Chapter 3
The mass transfer rate,
A
m , of species A across the interfacial area for mass transfer A
i
is
given by
A
m = (Area for mass transfer)(mass transfer coefficient)(driving force)
The driving force for mass transfer can be expressed in many different ways. It could be
based on the mole or mass fraction in the gas, or liquid phase, or both. The mass transfer rate
for mass transfer from the liquid to the gas phase can be written as
A
m = A
i
k
y
(y
Ai
y
A
) = A
i
k
x
(x
A
x
Ai
) (3.25)
In this expression, k
y
and k
x
are the individual mass transfer coefficients based on the gas and
the liquid phase, respectively. The mole fractions y
Ai
, y
A
, x
A
, and x
Ai
are defined in Figure
3.21. The mass transfer rate for mass transfer from the gas to the liquid phase can be written
as
A
m = A
i
k
y
(y
A
y
Ai
) = A
i
k
x
(x
Ai
x
A
) (3.26)
If we do not know the direction of mass transfer, we could use either equation (3.25) or
equation (3.26). If the mass transfer rate calculated to be positive, our assumption of the
mass transfer direction is correct. For example, if we use equation (3.25) and
A
m
is positive,
then species A is being transferred from the liquid to the gas phase.
Let a be the interfacial area per unit volume of packing (m
2
/m
3
). Multiplying both sides of
equation (3.25) by a, we obtain
A
m a = A
i
ak
y
(y
Ai
y
A
)
a A
m
i
A
/
= ak
y
(y
Ai
y
A
) (3.27)
A
i
/a = (Interfacial area)/(Interfacial area/volume of packing) = V
pack
= Volume of packing.
Equation (3.27) can be written as
A
pack
m
V
= ak
y
(y
Ai
y
A
) (3.28)
Since, the interfacial concentrations are difficult to measure, the mass transfer rate is usually
written in terms of the overall mass transfer coefficient that is based on the overall driving
force for mass transfer (y
A
y
A
*
) or (x
A
*
x
A
) as shown in Figure 3.22.
312
Equilibrium
data
x
y
y
A
y
Ai
y *
A
x
A
x
Ai
x *
A
m
2
m
1
Figure 3.22 Concentration driving forces in interphase mass transfer.
For mass transfer from the gas to the liquid phase (as shown in Figure 3.22)
A
pack
m
V
= aK
y
(y
A
y
A
*
) = aK
x
(x
A
*
x
A
) (3.29a)
For mass transfer from the liquid to the gas phase
A
pack
m
V
= aK
y
(y
A
*
y
A
) = aK
x
(x
A
x
A
*
) (3.29b)
The term
y
aK
1
is the total resistance to mass transfer based on the gas phase, and
x
aK
1
the
total resistance to mass transfer based on the liquid phase. We have neglected the resistance
to mass transfer at the interface. In Figure 3.22, m
1
is the average slope of the equilibrium
curve between two points (x
A
, y
A
*
) and (x
Ai
, y
Ai
), m
2
the average slope of the equilibrium
curve between two points (x
Ai
, y
Ai
) and (x
A
*
, y
A
). The relation between the overall and the
individual mass transfer coefficients can be derived as follows:
y
A
y
A
*
= (y
A
y
Ai
) + (y
Ai
y
A
*
)
Since y
A
*
= m x
A
and y
Ai
= m x
Ai
, we have
y
A
y
A
*
= (y
A
y
Ai
) + m(x
Ai
x
A
)
A
y
N
K
=
A
y
N
k
+ m
A
x
N
k
1
y
K
=
1
y
k
+
x
m
k
(3.210a)
Similar derivation gives
313
z
y
A,out
y
A,in
V
z+dz
V
z
L
z+dz
L
z
dz
1
x
K
=
1
y
mk
+
1
x
k
(3.210b)
We now want to determine the height of a packed bed
required to change the concentration of the inlet gas from
y
A,in
to y
A,out
in a distillation column.
We will assume constant molar overflow so that the vapor
molar flow rate, V, and the liquid molar flow rate, L, are
constant over the height of the packed column. Let A
c
be
the crosssectional area of the column, the material balance
over the differential volume A
c
dz gives
x
A
L
z+dz
+ y
A
V
z
= x
A
L
z
+ y
A
V
z+dz
Figure 3.23 Material balance over A
c
dz
Rearranging the liquid and vapor flow rates gives
x
A
L
z+dz
x
A
L
z
= y
A
V
z+dz
y
A
V
z
Dividing the equation by dz and letting the control volume A
c
dz approach zero, we have
d(Lx
A
) = d(Vy
A
)
For constant L and V
Ld(x
A
) = Vd(y
A
)
The molar flux of A across the interface is
N
A
= K
y
(y
A
y
A
*
)
Multiplying the expression by aA
c
dz gives
N
A
aA
c
dz = K
y
(y
A
y
A
*
)aA
c
dz
Since N
A
A
i
adz =
) )( ( time area
transfer Mass
volume
area
volume = rate of A transfer from volume A
c
dz, we
have
K
y
(y
A
y
A
*
)aA
c
dz = Vd(y
A
)
Solving for dz gives
dz =
A
A A y
dy
y y a K
V
*) (
314
Integrating over the height of the packed bed we have
h =
h
dz
0
=
out A
in A
y
y
A
A A c y
dy
y y aA K
V
,
,
*) (
(3.211)
The height of an overall gas transfer unit, H
OG
, is defined as
H
OG
=
c y
aA K
V
If H
OG
is a constant, equation (3.211) becomes
h =
c y
aA K
V
out A
in A
y
y
A A
A
y y
dy
,
,
*) (
(3.212)
For distillation column where species A is transferred from the liquid to the gas phase, h is
given by
h =
c y
aA K
V
out A
in A
y
y
A A
A
y y
dy
,
,
) * (
= H
OG
n
OG
(3.213)
In this expression, n
OG
is the number of overall gas transfer unit. If the driving force is based
on the driving force in the liquid phase
N
A
aA
c
dz = K
x
(x
A
x
A
*
)aA
c
dz = Ld(x
A
) (3.214)
The height of the packed bed is then given by
h =
c x
aA K
L
out A
in A
x
x
A A
A
x x
dx
,
,
*) (
= H
OL
n
OL
(3.215)
H
OL
is the height of an overall liquid transfer unit and n
OL
the number of overall liquid
transfer unit. We now need to evaluate the integral
out A
in A
y
y
A A
A
y y
dy
,
,
) * (
or
out A
in A
x
x
A A
A
x x
dx
,
,
*) (
.
315
z
y
A,out
y
A,in
V L
y
A
x
A
x
A,in
x
A,out
x
A
y
A
y * y
A A
Equilibrium curve
Operating line
y
A,out
y
A,in
x
A
Figure 3.24 Material balance over the lower section of the tower.
Assuming L and V are constant and making an A balance over the lower section of the tower
as shown in Figure 3.24 we have
x
A,out
L + y
A
V = x
A
L + y
A,in
V
Solving for y
A
we obtain an equation called the operating line
y
A
=
V
L
x
A
+ y
A,in
V
L
x
A,out
(3.216)
At any location in the packed bed the bulk concentration in the vapor and liquid phase are y
A
and x
A
respectively. The point (x
A
, y
A
) is on the operating line shown in Figure 3.24. The
number of transfer unit n
OG
or the integral
out A
in A
y
y
A A
A
y y
dy
,
,
) * (
can be evaluated where (y
A
*
y
A
) is the difference between the concentration y
A
*
that is in equilibrium with the liquid at x
A
to the vapor concentration at the point (x
A
, y
A
). If the operating line and equilibrium curves
are straight, n
OG
can be evaluated analytically. This condition might occur in gas absorption
with dilute solution where the equilibrium curve is straight and L and G are constant. We will
drop the subscript A with the understanding that y and x are the mole fractions of the
diffusing species in the gas and liquid phase, respectively. For gas absorption, we use G for
the gas flow rate instead of V for the vapor flow used in distillation.
Making a material balance for the diffusing species over the top section of the column as
shown in Figure 3.25 we have
x
in
L + yG = xL + y
out
G
Solving for y
we obtain a straight operating line since L/G = constant
y =
G
L
x + y
out
G
L
x
in
(3.217)
316
z
y
out
y
in
G L
y x
x
in
x
out
x
y
y  y *
A A
Equilibrium curve
Operating line
y
out
y
in
x
Figure 3.25 Material balance over the upper section of the tower.
For straight equilibrium line
y* = mx
The number of overall gas transfer unit can be written as
n
OG
=
out
in
y
y
y y
dy
c
A
) * (
=
in
out
y
y
y y
dy
A
*) (
Combining the operating line and the equilibrium line, we have
y y
*
= y mx = y m

\

+
in out
x y
L
G
y
L
G
=

\

L
mG
1 y +
L
mG
y
out
mx
in
n
OG
=
+

\

in
out
y
y
in out
A
mx y
L
mG
y
L
mG
dy
1
Performing the integration gives
n
OG
=
L
mG
1
1
ln
(
(
(
(
+

\

+

\

in out out
in out in
mx y
L
mG
y
L
mG
mx y
L
mG
y
L
mG
1
1
n
OG
=
L
mG
1
1
ln
(
(
(
(
+

\

in out
in out in
mx y
mx y
L
mG
y
L
mG
1
(3.218)
317
Since y*
out
= mx
in
, we have

\

L
mG
1 y
in
+
L
mG
y
out
mx
in
=

\

L
mG
1 y
in
+
L
mG
y
out
y*
out

\

L
mG
1 y
in
+
L
mG
y
out
mx
in
=

\

L
mG
1 y
in
+
L
mG
y
out
y*
out
+
L
mG
y*
out
L
mG
y*
out

\

L
mG
1 y
in
+
L
mG
y
out
mx
in
=

\

L
mG
1 y
in

\

L
mG
1 y*
out
+
L
mG
(y
out
y*
out
)
Substituting the above expression into equation (3.218), the number of overall gas transfer
unit is finally
n
OG
=
L
mG
1
1
ln
(
\

L
mG
y y
y y
L
mG
out out
out in
*
*
1 (3.219)
We can follow a similar procedure to obtain the number of overall liquid transfer unit
n
OL
=
out
in
x
x
A
x x
dx
*) (
n
OL
=
mG
L
1
1
ln
(
\

mG
L
x x
x x
mG
L
out out
out in
*
*
1 (3.220)
In the above expression x*
out
= y
in
/m.
Example 3.21
10
.

Acetone in air is being absorbed by water in a packed tower having a crosssectional area of
0.186 m
2
at 293 K and 1 atm. At these conditions, the equilibrium relation is given by y
e
=
mx
e
. The inlet air contains 2.6 mole % acetone and the outlet 0.5 %. The air flow is 13.65
kmol/hr and the pure water inlet flow is 43.56 kmol/hr. Film coefficients for the given flow
in the tower are k
y
a = 3.810
2
kmol/sm
3
and k
x
a = 6.210
2
kmol/sm
3
. Determine the tower
height.
Solution 
The tower height can be obtained from the following relation
h =
y c
G
K aA
out A
in A
y
y
A A
A
y y
dy
,
,
) * (
= H
OG
n
OG
10
C. J. Geankoplis, Transport Processes and Separation Process Principle, Prentice Hall, 2003, pg. 672
318
For straight operating and equilibrium lines, the number of overall gas transfer unit is given
by
n
OG
=
out A
in A
y
y
A A
A
y y
dy
,
,
) * (
=
L
mG
1
1
ln
(
\

L
mG
y y
y y
L
mG
out out
out in
*
*
1
We have m = 1.186, G =13.65 kmol/hr, L = 43.56 kmol/hr, y
in
= 0.026, y
out
= 0.005, y*
out
=
mx
in
= 1.186(0) = 0.
mG
L
= 0.3569
n
OG
=
L
mG
1
1
ln 1
in
out
mG y mG
L y L
(
 
+
 (
\
=
1
1 0.3569
ln ( )
0.026
1 0.3569 0.3569
0.005
(
+
(
n
OG
= 2.0348
The overall mass transfer coefficient is determined from the film coefficients.
1
y
K a
=
1
y
k a
+
x
m
k a
=> K
y
a =
1
1
y x
m
k a k a
+
K
y
a =
1
1 1.186
0.038 .062
+
= 0.022 kmol/sm
3
Therefore
H
OG
=
y c
G
K aA
=
(13.65/ 3600)
(0.022)(0.186)
= 0.9264 m
The tower height is then
h = H
OG
n
OG
= (0.9264)(2.0348) = 1.89 m