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When a packed bed of particles is subjected to a sufficient high upward flow of fluid (gas
or liquid) the weight of the particles is supported by the drag force exerted by the fluid on
the particles and the particles become freely suspended or fluidized. The behaviour of
fluidized suspension is similar in many aspects to that of a pure liquid. Mass transfer and
heat transfer rates between particles and submerged objects (e.g. heat exchanger tubes) is
greatly enhanced in fluidized beds. In addition, rapid particle mixing allows uniformity in
bed. As a result, fluidized bed are widely used for conducting gas solid reactions (coal
combustion), gas solid catalytic reactions (catalytic cracking of petroleum), etc. Several
applications also utilize liquid fluidized beds (bioreactors).
Some of the important design parameters for such systems are: the minimum fluidization
velocity, bed expansion of fluidization, and pressure variation in the bed.
a. To experimentally determine the minimum fluidization velocity for the
given bed of particle.
b. To find the bed expansion with increasing gas velocity.
c. To find the variation of gas pressure with axial distance in the bed.
d. To qualitatively observe the behaviour of a gas fluidized bed with
increasing gas velocity using a 2-D bed.
I. Determination of minimum fluidization velocity and bed expansion
1) Note the weight of glass beads, and their average diameter.
2) Supply gas with a low flow rate (the lowest measurable) to the bed and note the
flow rate using the rotameter and the gas pressure at the bottom of the bed. Also
note the bed height.
3) Increase the gas flow slightly and again note the flow rate, pressure and the bed
4) Repeat (3) until the maximum flow rate is reached. Observe the top surface and
sides of the bed and note the flow rate when the bed just becomes
fluidized.(Particles begin to vibrate)
5) Repeat (3) starting from a high flow rate and decrease the flow rate slightly in
steps. Note the flow rate when the bed is just defluidized.
II. Variation of gas pressure with axial distance.

1) Increase the gas flow rate until the bed is just fluidized. (The metal probe will
move with little resistance when the bed is fluidized.)
2) With the probe tip at the top surface of the bed, note the gas pressure using the
3) Lower the probe downwards by 1 cm using the reference marking and note the
4) Repeat until the bottom of the bed is reached.
5) Repeat steps (2) to (4) using the maximum flow rate available.
III. Behaviour of gas fluidized beds:
Increase the flow rate to the 2-D bed in small steps and note qualitatively the
phenomena you observe.
Theory and Analysis:
Minimum fluidization Velocity:
The basis of the theory for prediction of minimum fluidization velocity is that the
pressure drop across the bed must be equal to the effective weight per unit area of the
particles at the point of incipient fluidization. This is expressed in mathematical form as

P = ( p g )(1 M ) gL

.. ( 1 )

Where P is the pressure drop, p and g are the densities of the particle and gas
respectively. m is the porosity at minimum fluidization, and L is the height of the bed.
The Ergun equation can be used to calculate the pressure drop in packed beds.

P 150V0 (1 ) 2 1.75 g V0 (1 )


( 2 )

Where V0 is the superficial velocity (volume flow rate divided by cross-sectional area),
is the viscosity. D p is the particle diameter and is the porosity of packed bed.
Substituting (2) in (1), we obtain a quadratic equation for the minimum fluidization
velocity (VOM)
150 VOM (1 M ) 1.75 gV 2 OM 1
= g ( p g )
... ( 3 )
Plot your experimental data for P versus V0 and L versus V0 . Obtain the minimum
fluidization velocity from the graphs.( Ref. McCabe, Smith and Harriot, P. 148, Fig.7-8).
Calculate the minimum fluidization velocity using e.g. (3) and M = 0.5


In the case of gas fluidized beds, increasing the superficial velocity above the minimum
fluidization velocity results in the formation of bubbles which rise through the bed. The
bed expansion results mainly from the space occupied by the gas bubbles significantly
with superficial gas velocity.
If f b is the volume fraction occupied by the average velocity of the bubbles, volume
balance for the gas yields,

V0 = fbub + (1-fb)VOM
where the first term on RHS gives the volume flow rate per unit area of gas through the
bubble phase and the second term, the volume flow rate per unit area of the gas through
the fluidized phase.
A volume balance for the particle phase gives
LM = L (1- fb)
Where LM is the height of the bed at minimum fluidization and L is the height of the
expanded bed with a volume fraction of bubbles fb.
Combining the above equations we obtain
= b
u b VO

An empirical equation for the bubble rise velocity is

u b = 0.7 gDb
Where Db is the diameter of the bubble.
From your data of bed expansion calculate the mean bubble size for different V0.
Variation of Pressure with Height:

Due to the fluid like behaviour of the bed, a linear dependence of the gas pressure on bed
height is expected with

P = eff gh
where h is the height measured from the top surface of the bed and eff is the effective

Plot the gas pressure measured versus the height of the bed. Calculate the effective
density of the bed from your graphs.

Points for Discussion:

1) Give a qualitative description (with appropriate drawings) of the behaviour

observed during fluidization with increasing gas velocities.
2) Compare the minimum fluidization velocity obtained experimentally (by both
methods) to the calculated value.
3) Using the computed bubbles sizes, determine the superficial velocity for
slugging, (i.e. when the bubble diameter is equal to bed diameter)
4) Estimate the porosity at minimum fluidization ( M ) from eff at minimum
5) Based on your observations, discuss the liquid like behaviour of fluidized bed.

W.L. McCabe, J. C. Smith and P. Harriot (1985), Unit Operations of Chemical

Engineering, McGraw Hill, New York.