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Project Review

Optimization of Design of a Compact Cell


Settler

Report submitted on April 25, 2016


Under Guidance of Prof. Pushpavanam
Submitted by:
Rohit Singh
5th Year Dual Degree Student
Chemical Engineering

In this report we describe the work carried out in the period from
August 2015 to March 2016. The work has been carried out in a
systematic manner to help logically analyze the results. First we
discuss the sedimentation in a batch vessel which is vertical and
then is inclined. Then we extend this to a continuous system. The
analysis is done using Fluent as the platform for all simulations.
INTRODUCTION
Suspension mammalian cell culture processes for the production
of biologic therapeutics (antibodies) are operated in a variety of
modes such as: batch, fed-batch, chemostat, and perfusion.
In perfusion culture, a continuous supply of fresh media is fed
into the bioreactor while growth-inhibitory by-products are
constantly removed. The advantages of perfusion cell culture, in
particular, include high volumetric productivities via higher cell
densities than the other modes and better cell physiology
control. Perfusion is also advantageous when product stability is
a concern as the product can be harvested continuously as
opposed to waiting for the duration of a batch or fed-batch
process.
Hybridoma is a hybrid cell used as the basis for the production of
antibodies in large amounts for diagnostic or therapeutic use.
Early studies in batch hybridoma culturing showed that
monoclonal antibody production is proportional to the
number of viable cells in the culture [1,2] .Nonviable or
dead cells do not lose significant amounts of antibody and,
consequently, contribute negligibly to the productivity of a culture
[3]. Thus, high productivity of monoclonal antibody in suspension
culture can be attained not by maximal cell growth rate but by
maintaining high viable cell concentrations.
The accumulation of nonviable cells and the removal of viable
cells along with nonviable cells limit the culture productivity.
Limitations in culture productivity may be overcome by
continuously removing only nonviable cells from the reactor while
selectively retaining all viable cells in the reactor, provided that a
method may be developed for accomplishing a selective
separation of these subpopulations.
Cell retention devices are employed in perfusion processes to
separate the cells from the product-containing supernatant

(harvest) and to ideally retain the viable, product-producing cells


in the bioreactor. Such cell-separating devices include
centrifuges, hollow-fiber filters, hydrocyclones, gravity settlers,
spin filters and ultrasonic separators.
High viable cell concentrations in suspension bioreactors are
currently achieved by using various cell retention or recycle
devices. Filter devices can be detrimental to long-term culture
productivity because the cells are subjected to excessive shear
forces, resulting in higher cell death rates. Inclined plate settlers
have various advantages over traditional settling devices. It can
be operated continuously unlike the batch sedimentation devices.
Inclined settlers generally do not contain any internal moving
parts and accomplish the separation by utilizing the force of
gravity within an environment of minimal shear stress.
It is expected that the desired selective cell separation may be
accomplished by exploiting the different sedimentation
velocities of viable and nonviable cells by using inclined
sedimentation. Larger cells are removed from suspension by
settling onto the upward-facing surfaces of the settler, where
they form thin sediment layers that slide down to be collected at
the bottom of the vessel.
Batt et al [6] performed experiments and concluded that at high
dilution rates ,over 95% of the viable cells could be partitioned to
the bottom of the settler while over 50 % of the nonviable cells
are removed through the top of the settler. This successful
separation is due to the significantly larger size of the viable cells
than the nonviable ones.
THE BOYCOTT EFFECT & INCLINED PLATE SETTLERS
The benefit of inclined sedimentation is that cells need to settle
only a distance on the order of the narrow spacing between the
inclined walls of the settler in order to be removed from
suspension, rather than a distance on the order of the settler
height as in vertical sedimentation. In order to explain the
Boycott effect, Ponder (1925) and Nakamura and Kuroda (1937)
independently proposed an analytical model to predict the
sedimentation rate for a monodisperse suspension in a parallelplate container. This model is called the PNK theory. [4-5]

According to the PNK theory, the settling rate is


dh
dt

= -Vo(1 +

h
b sinA

A is the angle of inclination and V o is the suspension interface


velocity in a vertical container of the same dimensions. It is clear
that the settling rate is enhanced by a factor (h/b) sin A. That is,
the settling rate will be improved for a larger ratio of the
suspension length to the width, b, or by a larger inclination angle.
Kinosita (1949) experimentally observed convection currents in
an inclined tube, which generated a strong vortex. He found that
some particles trapped in the vortex move up to 100 times faster
than those sedimentation particles. Hill et al. (1977) proposed a
continuum model, and he was followed by Acrivos and
Herbolzheimer (1979), Borhan and Acrivos (1988), and Kapoor
and Acrivos (1995). In these studies, Acrivos and his coworkers
paid attention to the modeling of the sediment layer on the
upward-facing surface and the way it drains towards the bottom
of the container. Their results agree better with the experimental
data than the PNK theory does.

Figure 1: Schematic of inclined plate cell settler


b: plate spacing;
n: number of plates;
w: plate width;
l: plate length;
: settler angle

A kinematic theory for inclined sedimentation was developed


more than a half-century ago. This theory states that the
volumetric production rate of clarified fluid from an inclined
channel due to particle sedimentation is equal to the vertical
settling velocity of the particles multiplied by the horizontal
projected area of the channel surface available for
sedimentation [4-5].
S(u)= uw (Lsin + b cos )

(1)

Where S(u) is the volumetric rate of production of fluid clarified


of particles with settling velocity u ,w is the width of the settler,
L is the length of the settler, b is the spacing.
The scale-up of an inclined sedimentation device can be
accomplished by either increasing the dimensions of a single
plate, which can result in long cell residence times and
cumbersome physical sizes, or by utilizing multiple plates.
These multiple plate designs, however, share two common
problems. First, a single pump removes the overflow for many
plates, causing inevitable flow distribution problems. For
example, it is impossible to maintain identical flow rates up each
of the channels. The second, more serious problem is that cells
which have settled and are sliding off the top channels will be reentrained in the up flow through lower channels. In this manner,
viable cells will not be swiftly returned to the bioreactor upon
settling, and the residence time of cells of the settler can be
increased dramatically.
Selective removal of nonviable cells can be achieved by
adjusting the settler overflow rate so that the residence time of
the suspension in the settler is in between the settling times of
two subpopulations of different sizes.
For a given cell culture growing at a particular rate, the degree of
cell separation was found to depend on the overflow rate through
the settler, which determines the residence time of suspended
cells in the sedimentation channel.
An efficient settler will rapidly return all cells to the

bioreactor, so that they can continue to produce product


uninhibited by the low settler temperatures and uncontrolled
nutrient conditions. The length of time that cells spend in the
settler is therefore critical to considerations of settler
dynamics.

Conical Spiral Settler device


This is a proprietary patent-pending design (shown in Figures 2 and 3) of Compact cell settler developed
by Sudhin Biopharma Co. It exploits the centrifugal forces on cells (in the cell culture medium from the
bioreactor) entering tangentially near the top of cylindrical portion of the cyclone assembly. Cells pushed
against the spiral cylindrical walls settle down vertically to reach the conical bottom of the cyclone
housing and its internal inclined surfaces, which enhances the cell settling as discovered by Boycott
(1920) with blood cells and confirmed by Batt et al., (1990) for hybridoma cells and Searles et al., (1994)
for CHO cells.
% of the cell concentration in the
bioreactor sample.
1. Cylindrical portion of cyclone holding vessel;
2. Conical bottom section of cyclone vessel;
3. Top headplate sealed with o-rings on cylcone;
4. Central top outlet port welded into headplate;
5. Screws attaching the lid to the cyclone
6. Tangential port near the top for inlet
of cell culture medium from
bioreactor;
7. Vertical spiral plate with constant
spacing between successive rings;
8. Conical spiral surface (a single continuous surface
or several angled plates) welded to the vertical
spiral plate; and,
9. Bottom outlet port for returning settled cells back
to the bioreactor.*
This prototype was constructed and housed inside a
cyclone of 12 inches outer diameter and 12 inches
total height as shown in Figure 2. It is a vertical
spiral plate turning 5 full circles, with several
angled plates welded at the bottom. In the initial
experiments with this device at a perfusion rate of
5 liters/day harvested from yeast Pichia cells
growing in 5-liter bioreactor contained only 5 10

Under the microscope and with a Coulter


counter, the yeast cells exiting in the
harvest were significantly smaller than
those in the bioreactor.

Figure 2. Sectional view of a Conical


Spiral Settler device

Figure 3. Top view of a Conical Spiral


Settler device

PROBLEM STATEMENT
To find the optimal parameters and design specifications for the
above described cell settler.
For the design optimization, some of the suggestions given to us
were to change the height of cylindrical portion keeping the
volume constant and seeing its effect.
Simulating the above problem and geometry was a challenging
task. For simulating the above geometry, we first needed to
understand the dynamics of the system. After understanding the
system and developing an appropriate model for a simpler system,
we can extrapolate it to the much complex system.

Simulation of Batch sedimentation flows in vertical


and inclined channels
1. Vertical bimodal sedimentation
The geometry considered for the study was a vertical cuboidal
sedimentation column, 100 cm tall and has a square cross-section
with 5 cm side. Two types of particles were considered for the
simulations. Group 1: 137 microns, initial volume fraction 0.01,
density=2440 kg/m3 and Group 2: 198 microns, initial volume
fraction 0.04, density = 2990 kg/m3 .Both types of particles were
studied individually.
The suspending medium (fluid) consisted of a mixture of Union
Carbide UCON oils and Monsanto HB40 hydrogenated terphenyl oil
which had a Newtonian fluid with density = 992 kg/m 3 and viscosity
= 0.0677 kg / m-s. This viscosity is sixty seven times higher than
that of water. The maximum particle volume fraction (packing
fraction) is 0.53 [3] This choice of parameters is based on the
experimental study in the literature and is used to validate the
numerical code developed.
The geometry being simulated is shown in Fig.4. All the simulations
are performed in 2-D as we can find a plane of symmetry (XY

plane). The number of cells in the x and y directions are 16 and


160 respectively.

Geometry

Meshed Geometry

Number of x cells =16


Number of y cells = 160

Figure 4 : Geometry and meshing of the vertical sedimentation


column
Model and Solver Specifications
Euler Euler Granular Model is used for carrying out the
simulations. The key features of the model are now described.
To take into account the sliding of particles on the inclined surface,
a slip boundary condition is used for particle-wall interaction.
No slip condition is used for fluid-wall interaction.
The coefficient of restitution between particle-particle is set as
1 (collisions are elastic) since there exists a thin liquid film covering
the particle surface.
The coefficient of restitution between particle-wall is set as 0
(inelastic collision). This implies that the particles are assumed to
be deposited when they come in contact with the wall.

The drag model used is the classical Schiller Naumann model.


The particle viscosity and particle collision stress is modeled
by the kinetic theory of granular flows. Solids phase properties
become functions of the solids phase volume fraction and the
granular temperature which accounts for velocity fluctuations
owing to particle-to-particle collisions. [9,15]
A second order upwind scheme is used to solve the momentum
equations for the convective terms.
A transient coupled solver was used to solve the momentum,
continuity, granular temperature and energy equations. Time step
size for the simulation was determined on a case-by-case basis and
was chosen to be as large as possible such that the solution
converged. The time step size used varies from 5 x10-3 s to 2x10-2 s
for most simulations.
For convergence of the solution, the residuals were monitored .The
criterion used for convergence was residuals had to reach 10 -3 at
every time step. The time step was chosen such that for each time
step the numerical scheme converges in 5-10 iterations.
Results
The experimental data was obtained from Davis R.H et al (1982)
The sedimentation of polydispere suspensions in vessels
having inclined wall. Simulation of sedimentation in a vertical
column was done in Fluent 14.1.
Fig.5 shows the comparison between experimental data and
simulated data for the two particles. It can be seen that the
simulation is able to predict the experimental behavior for both
types of particles.

Sedimentation levels of bimodal suspension


100
95
Experimental group 2

90

Height (cm)

Experimental Group 1
Simulated Group 2

85

Simulated Group 1

80
75
0 50 100 150 200 250300 350400 450

Time (s)

Figure 5 : Comparision of experimental data with simulated


results

2.Simulation of vertical and inclined unimodal


sedimentation
For these simulations the vertical height was kept constant at 40
cm and the cross-section of the geometry was a square with side 5
cm. The particles were assumed to be monodisperse with a size of
137 microns and density of 2420 kg/m 3. Initial volume fraction of
particles was taken as 0.1 .The maximum particle volume fraction
(packing fraction) = 0.53
The fluid properties considered chosen were density = 992 kg/m 3
and viscosity = 0.0677 kg / m-s. This channel was analyzed for
three different inclinations; 350, 200 and 00.
Meshing
The solution obtained depends on the grid size chosen. The final
solution which has numerically converged should be independent
of the grid. The solution changed initially when we went from

coarse mesh to fine mesh. But after a critical mesh size, the
solution becomes independent of the grid size.
The final mesh size used has a maximum face size of 1 mm. This
gave a total of 19138 elements and 18590 nodes.
Another mesh of Maximum face size 1.5mm having 8292 elements
and 7948 nodes was also used. No significant difference (less than
5%) was observed in the results obtained by these two meshes.
Hence all simulations were carried out with the finer mesh.
Sedimentation rate was found to increase as we used a finer mesh.
This also gave a realistic solution (closer to experimental results)
while using a very fine mesh. In particular it was necessary for the
meshing near the boundary (walls) to be very fine (1 mm) as
sedimentation is a boundary phenomenon.
Models and solvers used here are same as that used for the
vertical bimodal sedimentation case. Meshing is different for the
inclined channels to take into account the formation of sediment
layer and its sliding on the boundary.

Geometry
Case 1: Inclination 350
3: Inclination 00

Case 2: Inclination 200

Case

Figure 6 : Geometry of the inclined and vertical column


Fig.6 represents the three cases being modeled. The angle of
inclination is measured from the vertical.
Results
The experimental data for the inclined channels were obtained
from [9]. Simulations of inclined columns were done in Fluent 14.1.
Fig.7 shows the comparison between experimental data and
simulation predictions for the case of the vertical channel and two
different inclinations of 20 and 35 degrees. A good agreement
between the experimental and simulated data is observed. This
validates the model.
The location where the concentration was 50% of the initial
concentration was taken to be the interface height (i.e., cell
fraction =0.05).
It must be emphasized that while the experiments were carried out
by using polydisperse particles around a mean diameter, the
simulations are based on a monodisperse suspension being used.

For the broad size distribution, the concentration just above the top
of suspension is zero, whereas, for the narrower distributions, it is
not. The effect of the polydispersity is to spread out the particles in
the upper portion of the settling vessel. [11-12]
In sedimentation experiments for monodisperse particles, Laux H.
et al (1997) encountered a comparatively sharp interface below
which the particle volume fraction equals its initial value and above
which it is virtually zero. In the computed solution, however,
numerical diffusion tends to smear the interface such that it
does not appear sharp any longer [14]. It seemed natural to define
the interface position by the contour line for half of the initial
particle volume fraction [15].
The height settled in 600 seconds is 7.3 cm for the vertical
geometry as compared to 21.5 cm for 35 0 inclined geometry. The
350 inclined settler gave a much higher settling as compared to the
vertical channel. This shows that the CFD model used with the
different assumptions is able to capture the Boycott Effect and can
be applied to a continuous system.

Interface height vs Time


40
0 Experimental

35

0 Simulation

30

20 Experimental

Height (cm) 25

20 Simulation

20

35 Experimental

15

35 simulation

10
0

100

200

300

400

500

600

700

Time (s)

Figure 7 : Comparision of experimental data with simulated result

The velocity field in settling


The settling of the particles induces a velocity field in the liquid
phase. This is readily predicted by the CFD simulations. The
velocity flow field thus determined helps us in understanding the
cause behind increased settling in inclined channels. Kohara et al.
[10] previously used a fluid mechanical model to develop a better
understanding of the enhanced settling of mammalian cells within
open-ended inclined spaces. They found that the convective flow
within the plates was 20 times the Stokes velocity of the cells.
Figure 8 (a) depicts the velocity contours and 8 (b) the velocity
vectors in a channel inclined at 35 degrees to the vertical. Figure 9
is a zoomed version of the channel which shows the recirculation at
the top and bottom. This clearly confirms the circulation pattern in
the inclined channel.

Inclination of 350 (case 1 from Section 2)

Figure 8 (a) Velocity contour


(zoomed in)

(b) Velocity vectors

Figure 9 : Velocity vectors (zoomed in) reveal a circulating


pattern

For the particle size chosen (137 m), the Stokes settling velocity
of particle is = 0.0215 cm/s and is obtained from
g ( p f ) D
v s=
18

For hindered settling, this reduces by a factor of (1-volume


frac)4.6 This comes by following Richardson & Zakis method
where
Vhindered = Vterminal (1volume fraction)n , n=4.6 in this case .This corresponds to the
domain where particle Reynolds number Re p is less than 0.2 . Using
this, the hindered Settling velocity of particles is obtained as 0.013
cm/s
We now discuss the y velocity component in the system which
determines the settling velocity. This is depicted in Figures 10 and
11 for a vertical and inclined channel respectively.
It can be seen that for the vertical system the y-velocity of the
particles are comparable to the hindered sttling velocity predicted
by Richardson and Zaki correlation. However for an inclined
channel, the y-velocity of particles trapped in the vortex ranges
from -0.24 to -1.73 cm/s (at time = 100 s). This settling velocity
is 20-150 times that calculated by Richardson & Zakis method
see Fig.11.
For 350 inclined system,

Figure 10 (a) : Y-velocity profile at time = 100 s

Figure 10 (b) : Y-velocity profile at time = 300 s (Double arrow


indicates the height at which velocity profile is calculated)
The vortex comes down and becomes smaller when the particles
settle. Also, their respective velocities decrease with time.
Comparing the Y-velocity at 100 s and 300 s, we can see that the
maximum Y-velocity decreased from 1.6 cm/s to 1.2 cm/s. This was
expected as rate of sedimentation decreases with time.
The flow field in the particle-containing region was considerably
more complex and several interesting phenomena were observed.
At the start of the experiment, a rapid circulating motion developed
throughout most of the suspension. The observed circulation was
due to continuity which requires that there be no net flow across a
plane of constant x; hence the upward flow of the suspension
caused by the motion of the clear-fluid layer must be accompanied
by a corresponding downward flow elsewhere in the suspension.
The particles close to the clear-fluid interface were
observed to rise rapidly, come to an abrupt stop at the top of

the suspension, and then descend rapidly in a thin layer


immediately adjacent to that where the particles were rising. This
can be inferred from Figure 9.

For vertical system,

Time =
100 s

Time =
300 s

Figure 11 : Y-velocity profile at height = 25 cm at time = 100 s


and 300 s (Double arrow indicates the height at which velocity
profile is calculated)

Y-velocity ranges from -0.03 to -0.005 cm/s. Hindered Settling


velocity of particles as calculated by Richardson & Zakis method is
0.013 cm/s. The Hindered settling velocity of particles as
calculated by Richardson & Zakis method and the settling
velocities of particles obtained from simulations are in agreement.

Studying the impact of inclined surface on


settling
To study the effect of impact of inclined surface on settling we
study three different geometries each have a different ratio of the
vertical and inclined portions. These are depicted in Fig.9 .The
three cases are such that
Case 1: More straight (30 cm), less inclined (15 cm)
Case 2: Equal straight, Equal inclined
Case 3: Less straight (8.5 cm), more inclined (42 cm)
Angle of inclination is 450

Case 1

Case 2

Case 3

Figure 12 : Geometry of the three cases


All the three geometries have a constant volume and vertical
height of 40 cm.

At time = 600 s, Interface heights obtained by the simulations


were:
Case 1: 29.0 cm
Case 2: 25.4 cm
Case 3: 19.2 cm
The clear interface is marked at the position where the particle
volume fraction reduces to half of the initial concentration. The
interface heights are measured from the bottom.
Comparing above results with the ones stated earlier, Fig. 10
contains the simulation predictions of the interface height versus
time for the different geometries.

Figure 13 : Comparision of settling rate from the simulated results

It is clear from the above graph that the larger the fraction of the
inclined surface, the more is the settling. This was expected as
there is more area available for the particles to settle and slide.

Continuous Flow System


As the batch system simulation predictions were in line with the
experimental data, it is fair to assume that the models and the way
the simulation is set up are accurate. We now discuss the behavior
of the continuous flow sedimentation system.
For the validation of model for the continuous system, The
experimental data was obtained from Batt BC, Davis RH, Kompala
DS. Inclined sedimentation for selective retention of viable
hybridomas in a continuous suspension bioreactor.
Biotechnol Prog. 1990;6:458464.
The continuous separation of nonviable hybridoma cells (8 Microns)
from viable hybridoma cells (13 Microns) by using a narrow
rectangular channel that is inclined from the vertical was
investigated experimentally. It was found that at high dilution rates
through the chemostat, over 95% of the viable cells could be
partitioned to the bottom of the settler while over 50% of the
nonviable cells are removed through the top of the settler. This
successful separation is due to the significantly larger size of the
viable hybridomas than the nonviable ones.
The effectiveness of the settler in selectively retaining viable
hybridomas in the bioreactor while permitting the removal of
nonviable hybridomas was shown to depend on the flow rate
through the settler.
The cell density was not determined exactly, but a crude neutral
buoyancy measurement indicated that it is approximately 1.06
g/cm3.

Two inclined sedimentation channels were used in this study. Each


was made of glass and had the same rectangular dimensions of 5
cm in width and a 0.5 cm separation between the two inclined
surfaces. One sedimentation channel had a length of 37 cm, while
the other was 23 cm long.
Particles considered for the simulation are nonviable hybridoma
cells (8 Microns) and viable hybridoma cells (13 Microns) . The
fluid properties considered were density = 998 kg/m 3 and viscosity
= 0.001 kg / m-s. The maximum particle volume fraction (packing
fraction) = 0.53
The external inclined sedimentation channel was kept at a constant
angle of 30 from the vertical, in order to provide sufficient area for
sedimentation while allowing the sediment to easily slide down the
inclined wall. Flow through the inclined settler was generated by a
peristaltic pump at the settler outlet. Cells that settle completely
from suspension are returned to the bioreactor by gravity flow of
the sediment layer. Smaller cells that do not have sufficient time to
be removed from suspension are washed out in the settler overflow
stream.

Effect of settler overflow rate on the concentrations of viable and


nonviable cells in the overflow stream relative to those in the
reactor. An inclined settler 37 cm in length at an angle of
inclination 300 was used in the study

Instead of recycling the settler overflow stream, the overflow


stream became the reactor effluent. The feed rate was adjusted to
exceed the overflow rate slightly, with the effluent tube employed
in chemostat operation used as a level control to maintain constant
culture volume.

The final mesh size used has a Maximum face size of 0.5 mm.
Further, inflation boundary layer meshing is used wherever
required (Case 3 and 4).

Figure 14 : Continuous Inclined cell settler Setup

Figure 15 : Geometry and meshing (zoomed in) of the inclined


sedimentation channel

Figure 16 : Geometry and meshing (zoomed in) of the inclined


(with plates) sedimentation channel

Case 1
Case 4

Case 2

Vertical
Inclined
Inclined (7 Plates)

Case 3
Inclined (4 Plates)

Figure 17 : Geometry of the four cases which are being simulated

Outlet

Inlet
Recirculati
on
A line probe ( a yellow line) is inserted from the inlet to the outlet.
As it is a 2-dimensional simulation, the probe lies in the plane of

the inclined settler. Volume fraction of particles is plotted at this


line for different cases.

Grid independence Study


A grid independence study was conducted to ensure that the final
solution was independent of the mesh size. The final converged
solution of Case 4 (inclined settler with 7 plates) is used for the
same.

Grid independence Study


Volume fraction vs Length
0.11
0.10
0.09
0.08

Particle volume fraction

0.07

0.7 mm

0.06

0.5 mm
0.4 mm

0.05
0.04
0.03
0.02
0.01
0.00
0

10

15

20

25

Length (cm)

Figure 18 : Grid independence study


There is no significant difference (< 5% error) between the steady
state results obtained by using 0.5 mm and 0.4 mm mesh.
Solution Method
Pseudo transient approach is used to find a steady state solution
for continuous systems. Pseudo time step size used is 2 seconds.

For convergence of the solution, the residuals were monitored. All


scaled residuals were less than 10-4 for the converged steady state
solution. Alternatively, when the solution stops changing with time
and scaled residuals are below 10-3, the solution obtained is a
steady state solution.

Results

Volume fraction vs Length


0.11
0.1
0.09
0.08

Particle volume fraction

0.07

4 Plates

0.06

7 plates

0.05

Vertical
Inclined

0.04
0.03
0.02
0.01
0
0

10

15

20

25

Length (cm)

Figure 19 : Comparision of simulated results under varying


conditions.
The difference in curvature [between inclined(no plates) and 4-7
plates] can be attributed to the fact that it is easier to drain fluid
out as compared to the particles.This is because of the lower drag
offered to fluid as compared to particles. Particles are heavier so
they are subjected to a larger force in vertical direction. When the
particles are completely settled ( as in case of 4-7 plates), this
behaviour is not visible. But in the vertical case and the inclined

case, there is still a large proportion of particles near the outlet. So,
more fluid is being drained out of the system as compared to the
particles.
As the number of plates increases, settling increases as the
particles have a lot more area to settle. Also, the particles have to
travel a smaller vertical distance till it reaches a wall as compared
to the case without plates. So, we expect settling to increase as
more and more plates are introduced to the settler.

Case 1 (Vertical)

Case 2 (Inclined)

Case 3 (4 plates)
Case 4
(7 plates)
Figure 20: Particle Volume fraction contours at steady state under
varying --conditions
As can be seen from the contours in Fig 20, inclining the vertical
system gave a higher settling. Dark blue colored contour
represents the clear fluid. Comparing the contours for Cases 2, 3
and 4 suggests that increasing the number of inclined plate results
in increased settling of particles. Introducing plates in the inclined
system further enhanced the settling by decreasing the distance
particle has to settle before it could roll down the inclined plate and
reach the underflow (recirculation outlet).
The above inference is clearly visible from the volume fraction v/s
length plots as depicted in Fig. 19.

EFFECT OF MESH SIZE ON SEDIMENTATION CFD


ANALYSIS
When dealing with micron size particles, mesh sizing becomes an
important factor. As the particles are very small (micron size) , the
meshes near the boundary should also be fine enough to capture
the particle wall interaction.

Without the use of inflation meshing, we would have to mesh the


whole geometry with elements of sizes comparable to that of the
sediment. The use of inflation layer boundary mesh significantly
reduces the number of elements in the mesh as we selectively
mesh the region where the settling is predominant ,i.e., near the
wall boundary.
In particle solutions, the grid cell size should be large enough to
contain a number of particle parcels. The grid must also be fine
enough to resolve the physics of the problem. A check is made to
evaluate the infuence of the grid on the sedimentation
calculations.
4 different types of meshes were used in this analysis. The whole
idea behind this was to get a converged solution with least number
of nodes (for reducing the computational time).
Some terminologies used in Inflation meshing are defined below:
The growth rate (g) determines the relative thickness of the
adjacent inflation layer. As we move away from the face to which
the inflation control is applied, each successive layer is
approximately one growth rate thicker than the previous one. For
e.g., a growth rate of 1.2 implies that the successive layer will be
1.2 times or 20% thicker than the previous one.
The number of layers (n) control determines the actual number
of inflation boundary layers in the mesh.
First layer height (h1) determines the height of the first inflation
layer.
S. Mesh
No size
.

No. of
No. of
elements nodes

Boundar
y layer
inflation

1
2

13380
12672

Yes
Yes

1 mm
1 mm

26050
24304

No. of
Bounda
ry layer
(n)
4
4

Growt First
h rate layer
(g)
height
(h1)
1.2
0.01 mm
1.2
0.1 mm

3
4

0.7
mm
1.5
mm

25769

51950

Yes

1.2

0.02 mm

9484

18339

Yes

1.2

0.015
mm

Figure 21: (a) Mesh 1 ,Mesh size =1mm, n =4 , g =1.2 , h 1 =0.01


mm (b) Zoomed in inflation boundary layer meshing

Figure 22: Mesh 2


mm

Mesh size = 1 mm, n =4, g = 1.2 , h1 =0.1

Figure 23 (a) : Mesh 3 , Mesh size = 0.7 mm, n =6 , g =1.2 , h 1


=0.02 mm

Figure 23 (b) : Zoomed in inflation boundary layer meshing

Figure 24 (a): Mesh 4 Mesh size =1.5 mm , n =5 , g = 1.2 , h 1


=0.015 mm

Figure 24 (b): Zoomed in inflation boundary layer meshing

RESULTS

Mesh size vs Settling


0.12
0.1
0.08

Mesh 1
Mesh 2

0.06

Particle Volume fraction

Mesh 3
Mesh 4

0.04
0.02

-5

0
0

10

15

20

25

30

Length (cm)

Figure 25 : Comparision of simulated results under varying


meshes.

Comparing Mesh 2 with the other three meshes, we can clearly


see the impact that boundary layer meshing has on settling
behaviour.
The first layer height of Mesh 2 is 5-10 times that of the other
meshes. As settling is a boundary (wall) layer phenomena, the first
layer height has a very significant impact on the sedimentation of
particles.
Number of elements in Mesh 2 (12672) is more than that in Mesh
4 (9484). Inspite of that , Mesh 2 underestimates the
sedimentation of particles . This is because of the larger first layer
height is Mesh 2 (0.1 mm) as compared to Mesh 2 (0.015 mm). As

the particles are very small, the meshes near the boundary should
also be fine enough to capture the particle wall interaction.
The mesh size in regions apart from the boundary has a minimal
impact on the settling rate.This can be seen by comparing the
particle volume fraction profiles obtained from Meshes 1,3 and 4.
These three meshes differ significantly in the mesh size and
consequently the number of elements. The first layer thickness of
Mesh 1,3 and 4 are 0.01, 0.02 and 0.015 respectively. Inspite of
different mesh sizes, all the three meshes gave nearly the same
solution. This suggests that the mesh sizing does not have a
significant impact in regions apart from the boundary.
Particle deposition assumption can also be used to reduce the
computational time. According to this assumption, the particles are
supposed to be deposited as soon as they reach the wall. The
particles leave the system when they come in contact with the
wall.
The problem with the above assumption is that it is only valid at
small concentrations. As long as the deposited sediment does not
influence the fluid above it, this assumption holds true. But at
higher concentrations (say 30% v/v ), this assumption may not hold
true.

Experiment Studies and their CFD


Simulations
Experiments were conducted in cylindrical test tubes of diameter
4.5 cm. The fluid medium is water having density of 998 kg/m 3 and
viscosity of 0.001 kg / m-s. Calcium carbonate was used in this
sedimentation analysis. Mean diameter of calcium carbonate is 18
microns. Density of Calcium carbonate is 2800 kg/m 3.

Angle of inclination is 150. Concentration of calcium carbonate is


5% w/w. This is equal to 1.8% v/v.

Conc. = 5%
80
70
60

Inclinedl Settling - 15*

50
Height(cm)

Vertica Settling

40

Simulated inclined

30

Simulated vertical

20
10
0
0

1000

2000

3000

4000

5000

6000

Time (sec)

Figure 26 : Comparision of experimental data with simulated


results

Even though the particles used are not monodisperse and


standardized , CFD simulations are still in line with the expermental
data.

Comparision of Different Settler Designs for Settling


Efficiency
Description of the multiphase system :
For these simulations, the volume was kept constant at 1 cm 3. Also,
the flow rate was kept constant for system equivalence. The
particles were assumed to be monodisperse with a size of 8
microns and density of 1060 kg/m 3. Initial volume fraction of
particles was taken as 0.1 .The maximum particle volume fraction
(packing fraction) = 0.53
The fluid properties considered chosen were density = 1000 kg/m 3
and viscosity = 0.001 kg / m-s. These constant volume settlers are
then analyzed for their sedimentation efficiency.
For efficiency of a settler , we define E (Sedimentation Efficiency)
as the percentage of particles retained in the settler.
E=

concentrationof particlesthe feedoutlet


100
concentration of particlesthe feed

Meshing
The solution obtained depends on the grid size chosen. The final
solution which has numerically converged should be independent
of the grid. The solution changed initially when we went from
coarse mesh to fine mesh. But after a critical mesh size, the
solution becomes independent of the grid size.
The final mesh size used has a maximum face size of 0.5 mm.

Sedimentation rate was found to increase as we used a finer mesh.


This also gave a realistic solution (closer to experimental results)
while using a very fine mesh. In particular it was necessary for the
meshing near the boundary (walls) to be very fine (0.01 mm) as
sedimentation is a boundary phenomenon.
Models and solvers used here are same as that used for the
vertical bimodal sedimentation case.

The final mesh used for computational fluid dynamics study for
different geometries are summarized below:

S. No.

Mesh
size

No. of
No. of
elements nodes

Bounda
ry layer
inflatio
n
Yes

No. of
Bounda
ry layer
(n)
5

Growt
h rate
(g)

First layer
height
(h1)

Design
1
Design
2
Design
3
Design
4
Design
5
Design
6

0.5 mm

89127

1.2

0.01 mm

0.5 mm

Yes

1.2

0.01 mm

0.5 mm

Yes

1.2

0.01 mm

0.5 mm

Yes

1.2

0.01 mm

0.5 mm

Yes

1.2

0.01 mm

0.5 mm

Yes

1.2

0.01 mm

28749

Design 1 :

h
w

Figure 27

Dimensions of the rectangular inclined channel used are 20 cm x


0.5 cm x 0.1 cm .
Length (l) , height (h) and width (w) of the settler are indicated in
figure
Distance between the parallel plates is 0.5 cm
Settling Surface Area = 20 x 0.1 = 2 cm2.
Projected Area = 2 sin 30 = 1 cm2

Figure 28

Phase 2 is the particle phase.

E = [1- (4.445/5.3)] x 100


= 16.13 %

Figure 29
DESIGN 2 : Inclined Cylinder

Figure 30

Radius of the cylinder is 0.112 cm. The volume is kept constant at


1 cm3 . Length of the cylinder is 25.3 cm.
Total curved surface area of the cylinder is 17.858 cm 2
Only the bottom half of the cylinder effects the settling. So only the
horizontal projection of bottom half of the cylinder is considered.
Effective Area available for sedmentation 3.6 cm2

E = [1- (3.556/5.207)] x 100


= 31.5 %

DESIGN 3 :
CONE
Volume is 1 cm3 .
Curved Surface Area of the cone is 5.1425 cm2.
Top radius 0.59 cm Bottom Radius 0.05 cm
Height is 2.5 cm
Sin 15 ( 3.14 x 0.59 x 2.5 )
Horizontal projected Surface area is 1.19 cm2

DESIGN 4

Volume is 1 cm3 .
Surface Area is 7.878 cm2.
Top radius 0.405 cm Bottom Radius 0.02 cm
Height is 5.5 cm
Horizontal projected Surface area is 0.5136 cm 2

DESIGN 5
Volume is 1 cm3 .
Surface Area is 6.12 cm2.
Top radius 0.73 cm Bottom Radius 0.02 cm
Height is 1.75 cm
Sin 67.3 x 3.14 x 0.72 x 1.75
Horizontal projected Surface area is 1.67 cm2

DESIGN 6

Volume is 1 cm3 .
Surface Area is 7.07 cm2.
Top radius 0.95 cm Bottom Radius 0.02 cm
Height is 1.032 cm
Horizontal projected Surface area is 2.83 cm2

For a given volume V, maximizing the horizontally projected


surface area.
1 2
V= r h
3

Curved Surface Area of the cone CSA= rl


l= h2 +r 2

h=

3V
r2

DESIGN 6:

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