You are on page 1of 10

Guangwu Tang

Center for Innovation Through Visualization

and Simulation (CIVS),
Purdue University Calumet,
Hammond, IN 46323

Armin K. Silaen
Center for Innovation Through Visualization
and Simulation (CIVS),
Purdue University Calumet,
Hammond, IN 46323

Bin Wu
Center for Innovation Through Visualization
and Simulation (CIVS),
Purdue University Calumet,
Hammond, IN 46323

Chenn Q. Zhou1
Center for Innovation Through Visualization
and Simulation (CIVS),
Purdue University Calumet,
Hammond, IN 46323

Dwight Agnello-Dean
BP Refining and Logistics Technology,
Naperville, IL 60563

Joseph Wilson
BP Refining and Logistics Technology,
Naperville, IL 60563

Numerical Simulation of
an Industrial Fluid Catalytic
Cracking Regenerator
Fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) is one of the most important conversion processes in
petroleum refineries, and the FCC regenerator is a key part of an FCC unit utilized in the
recovery of solid catalyst reactivity by burning off the deposited coke on the catalyst
surface. A three-dimensional multiphase, multispecies reacting flow computational fluid
dynamics (CFD) model was established to simulate the flow and reactions inside an FCC
regenerator. The EulerEuler approach, where the two phases (gas and solid) are considered to be continuous and fully interpenetrating, is employed. The model includes
gassolid momentum exchange, gassolid heat exchange, gassolid mass exchange, and
chemical reactions. Chemical reactions incorporated into the model simulate the
combustion of coke which is present on the catalyst surface. The simulation results were
validated by plant data. [DOI: 10.1115/1.4029209]
Keywords: regenerator, CFD, Eulerian, kinetic theory, drag model, hydrodynamics,

Qingjun Meng
BP Refining and Logistics Technology,
Naperville, IL 60563

Samir Khanna
BP Refining and Logistics Technology,
Naperville, IL 60563


Fluidization is one of the most important phenomena in gas

solid two-phase flow, which is widely used in some industries like
nuclear, chemical, gasification, and petroleum [1,2], mainly
because of its continuous powder handling ability, vigorous gas
solid contact, and fast heat and mass transfer [3]. FCC units play a
pivotal role in the petroleum refining industry, which converts
petroleum into lower molecular-weight hydrocarbon products
such as gasoline [4]. The gassolid two-phase flow in a regenerator directly influences the productivity and quality of light products. Although the air-catalysts two-phase flow in a regenerator is
well controlled and reached commercial status many years ago,
better understanding of the hydrodynamics can further improve
the efficiency [5]. With a good theoretical understanding of the
gassolid two phases flow hydrodynamics, numerical simulation
can be used as a tool for detailed study, design, and further optimization of regenerators [6]. Chen [7] proposed that engineering
innovations should be in response to shorter reaction time, heavier
feedstock, and high regenerator temperature. CFD techniques are
Corresponding author.
Contributed by the Heat Transfer Division of ASME for publication in the
March 9, 2014; final manuscript received November 3, 2014; published online
February 18, 2015. Assoc. Editor: Ranganathan Kumar.

derived from the partial differential equations based on the conservation of mass, momentum and energy. They offer a new
approach to study the hydrodynamics and transfer mechanisms in
gassolid two phases flow with relatively good efficiency and accuracy [3,6].
Fluidization of solid FCC catalyst bed by gas is the most important phenomena in the FCC process. The physical properties of
FCC catalyst particles will affect the fluidization. Geldart [8] classified particles into four groups: A, B, C, and D. Particles in group
A have a small mean size and a low particle density (less than
about 1.4 g/cm3), while particles in group B have a mean size that
ranges between 40 lm and 500 lm and density that ranges between
1.4 g/cm3 and 4 g/cm3. Powders which in any way are cohesive
belong to group C and are very difficult to fluidize. Group D particles are confined to large and very dense particles. FCC catalysts
belong to groups A and B, which can be easily fluidized.
There are two different approaches that can be used in CFD to
model the gassolid two-phase flows that involve particles of
groups A or B: the Lagrangian approach and the Eulerian
approach [5,9,10]. The Lagrangian approach solves the
Newtonian equations of motion for each particle, and takes into
consideration the effects of particle collisions and forces acting on
the particles by gas. Particle collision laws are applied for the
solidsolid collision based on the energy dissipation by means of
the restitution coefficient and friction [11,12]. However, the

Journal of Thermal Science and Engineering Applications

C 2015 by ASME
Copyright V

JUNE 2015, Vol. 7 / 021012-1

Downloaded From: on 01/10/2017 Terms of Use:

Lagrangian approach also requires more computational resources

when compared to the Eulerian approach and most of the applications are limited to large particles (d > 500 lm) [1316]. In the
Eulerian approach, all the phases are considered to be continuous
and fully interpenetrating, which is described by generalized
NavierStokes equations. The Eulerian approach requires additional closure laws to describe the particleparticle and particle
wall interactions. Recently, continuum models used kinetic theory
of granular flow which provided explicit closures that included
energy dissipation by means of restitution coefficient.
Nowadays, a great amount of attention has been paid to the
Eulerian approach by applying the kinetic theory of granular flow
for Geldart A and B particles, such as FCC catalysts. Gao et al.
[3,17] combined experimental and computational approaches to
study the hydrodynamics of the FCC particles in a turbulent fluidized bed based on the kinetic theory of granular flow within the
Eulerian model. A modified drag model was used and the results
agree with experimental data while showing that flow is more
sensitive to the restitution coefficient than to the flow model and
kinetic theory. Hosseini et al. [18] simulated the FCC particles
bubbling fluidized bed (BFB) using a state-of-the-art two-fluid
model integrating the kinetic theory of granular flow for particulate phase stresses. The study showed that the method was appropriate in simulating a gassolid fluidized bed of Geldart A
particles at high velocities (0.30.61 m/s). Hossieni et al. [19] also
applied a 2D Eulerian model including kinetic theory for the
particulate phase. Parameters such as the drag function, algebraic
and transport equations of granular temperature, frictional stress,
turbulence, and discretization scheme were studied. The results
showed that the drag model is an important hydrodynamic
parameter for gasfluidized beds and frictional stresses play an
important role for beds containing partial sparging (different distributors). Benyahia et al. [20] simulated the particles and gas
flow behavior in the riser section of a circulating fluidized bed
using kinetic theory approach. The flow profiles obtained showed
a good agreement with experimental data. Benyahia et al. stated
that the inlet and outlet designs have impacts on the overall flow
pattern while the initial condition did not have any significant
effects. Li et al. [21] used an EulerianEulerian (two-fluid) model
based on the kinetic theory of granular flow to simulate the gas
solid two-phase flow. Li et al. studied the influence of all the applicable drag laws and proposed their four-zone drag model. Their
model showed satisfactory agreement with experimental data. Li
et al concluded that the Eulerian model with kinetic theory of
granular flow based on proper drag model and particle collision
parameters can offer relatively good predictions of the gassolid
two-phase flow hydrodynamics.
The main tasks for a regenerator are to remove the carbon and
hydrogen from the catalyst surface and to heat the catalyst to a
high temperature (about 1003  C), both of which are achieved by
burning the carbon and the hydrogen. Therefore, including the
chemical reactions in the model would be beneficial. However,
most researchers either use the simplified one dimensional numerical model [22] or experimental method [2326] to analyze the
reactions inside the FCC regenerator. Only a few researchers
employed the Eulerian approach with the kinetic theory to model
flow inside industrial FCC regenerators [27,28]. However, there
are not many CFD models that include both the hydrodynamics
and the chemical reactions inside real complicated industrial
This paper employs CFD to simulate a commercial regenerator.
Based on the multiphase Eulerian model with kinetic theory of
granular flow, the air-catalyst two-phase flow hydrodynamics
inside the regenerator was firstly obtained, and a modified drag
model was used to calculate the gassolid interaction drag force.
The restitution coefficient was applied to define the solidsolid
collision forces. A reaction model which includes carbon and
hydrogen combustions to simulate the gas-phase reactions and
interphase reactions in the regenerator were added to the model.
The simulation results were validated by plant data.
021012-2 / Vol. 7, JUNE 2015

CFD Model and Methodology

The Eulerian model with kinetic theory of granular flow was

used in this simulation, with a Reynolds number of approximately
4  105. Gao et al. [3,17] reported that the laminar viscous model
was able to accurately describe flows in the same range of
Reynolds numbers. The laminar viscous model was applied in this
study. Almuttahar and Taghipour [29] also reported that even in
the case of high density circulating fluidized beds, a laminar
model can give better predictions of the hydrodynamics compared
to a default turbulence model. The species transport model was
used to calculate the species. A modified drag model, which will
be discussed later, was developed and used in this simulation to
calculate the gassolid interphase drag force. In the case of granular flows, the Gunn model [30] was applicable in a porosity range
of 0.351.0 and Reynolds number of up to 105. Therefore, the
Gunn model was used to calculate the heat transfer coefficient
between the gas and solid phase. The P1 radiation model was chosen to take into account the combustion thermal radiation. It is
easily implemented and computationally efficient while still offering relatively good accuracy. The heterogeneous reaction model
was used for gas-phase reactions and interphase reactions.
2.1 Conservation of Mass. Gas-phase continuity equation

@ag qg @ 

ag qg ugj 0
@ xj


Solid-phase continuity equation

@ap qp @ 

ap qp upj 0
@ xj


where the first term is the time rate of change of gas phase or solid
phase, and the second term is the advection of the gas phase or
solid phase. Each computational cell is shared by gas and solid
phase, and the total of solid and gas volume fraction is 1
ap ag 1


2.2 Conservation of Momentum. Gas-phase momentum


@p @sg;ij
ag qg ugi
ag qg ugi ugj ag


 b ugi  upi qg ag gi


Solid-phase momentum equation


@p @sp;ij
ap qp upi
ap qp upi upj ap


 b upi  ugi qp ap gi


where the terms on the left hand of the equation are the time rate
of change of gas or solid phase and advection term. On the right
hand of the equation, body force (gravity, pressure), shear force
term, and phase interaction terms are considered. b is the gas
solid interphase drag coefficient.
The fluctuations that occur in the solid phase are modeled from
the kinetic theory of gases modified to account for inelastic
collisions between particles [21].
Solid-phase turbulent fluctuating energy equation

3 @ap qp H @ap qp upk H


@upk @upi @upk
@upk  2

n p lp
c (6)
@xk @xi
Transactions of the ASME

Downloaded From: on 01/10/2017 Terms of Use:

In order to close the governing relations, constitutive equations

(7)(17) are used in this model.
Gas-phase stress tensor
@ugj @ugi

sg;ij lg
@ xj
Solid-phase stress tensor

sp;ij lp

@upj @upi

@ xj

dij  pp dij
np  lp



Radial distribution function

2.3 Conservation of Energy

ag qg hg r  ag qg hg ug ag g sg  rug  rqg

Qgp m_ gp hgp  m_ pg hpg
where hg is the specific enthalpy of the gas phase, qg is the heat
flux, Sg is a source term that includes sources of enthalpy (such as
radiation), Qgp is the intensity of heat exchange between gas and
solid phases and hgp is the interphase enthalpy
Qgp Cgp Tg  Tp


g0 1 


13 #1

u0p u0p

Solid-phase shear viscosity (Gidaspow kinetic theory [31])

10qp dp pH
1 1 eg0 ap
961 eg0
a2p qp dp g0 1 e


ap qp dp pH
1 1 e3e  1g0 ap
63 e
a2p qp dp g0 1 e



Nup 7  10af 5a2f 1 0:7Re0:2


Solid bulk viscosity

np a2p qp dp g0 1 e

6Kg ag ap Nup

Kg is the thermal conductivity of the gas phase.

For Gunn heat transfer model [30]

Solid-phase shear viscosity (SyamlalOBrien kinetic theory [32])



Cgp is the volumetric heat transfer coefficient between gas and

solid phase, which is related to the gas-phase Nusselt number,

Granular temperature



Solid-phase pressure

pp ap qp 1 21 eap g0 H

Collisional dissipation of energy fluctuation

" r
4 H @upk
c 31  e2 a2p qp g0 H

dp p



1:33  2:4af 1:2a2f Re0:7

p Pr


P1 Radiation Model. In the regenerator, another heat transfer

form is radiation due to combustion occurring at high temperatures near 1000 K. Therefore, thermal radiation should be considered. The radiative heat flux as a function of incident radiation
intensity in the P1 model is

3a rs  Crs


where a is the absorption coefficient, rs is the scattering coefficient, G is the incident radiation, and C is the linear-anisotropic
phase function coefficient
 rqr aG  4an2 rT 4


Diffusion coefficient (Gidaspow kinetic theory)

p "
150qp dp pH
1 1 eg0 ap
3841 eg0
2a2p qp dp g0 1 e

The expression for rqr can be directly substituted into the

energy equation to account for the heat sources due to the

Species Transport Equations. Species transport equations are

used to model the species which are involved in the chemical
reactions. For each phase k, the local mass fraction of each species, Yik , is predicted through the solution of a convectiondiffusion equation for i species. The species transport equation
can be expressed in the following form:
@ g g g
q a Yi r  qg ag Yig vg r  ag Jgi ag Sgi
ag Rgi Rnp1 m_ pi gi  m_ gi pi Rate


where Rgi is the net rate of production of homogeneous species i

by chemical reactions for the gas phase, m_ pi gi is the mass transfer

Diffusion coefficient (SyamlalOBrien kinetic theory [32])

15qp dp pH
1 1 e2 2e  1g0 ap
441  32 1 e

41  1 e1 eap g0


Journal of Thermal Science and Engineering Applications

JUNE 2015, Vol. 7 / 021012-3

Downloaded From: on 01/10/2017 Terms of Use:

source between species i and j from solid phase to gas phase, Rate
is the heterogeneous reaction rate, ag is the volume fraction for
gas phase, and Sgi is the rate of creation by addition from the dispersed phase plus any user-defined sources.
The heterogeneous phase interaction reaction rates used for the
reactions [33] are
YNR Yi qi VOFip
103 kmol
 1000  3
Rate k i1
m s



Geometry and Simulation Method

3.1 Simulation Domain. The computational geometry of the

regenerator being studied is shown in Fig. 1. The regenerator
cylindrical vessel includes nine two-stage cyclones, one upper air
ring, one lower air ring, two spent catalyst inlets, and two regenerated catalyst outlets. The spent catalyst from the riser with certain
amount of transport air is fed into the regenerator through the
spent catalyst inlets. Air needed to fluidize the catalyst bed and to
combust the coke on the catalyst surface is injected into the regenerator through the upper and lower air ring distributors located in
the bottom. The catalysts that are carried by the gas to the top are
separated from the gas in the two-stage cyclones, and are recycled
back into the catalyst bed. The cleaned/regenerated catalysts are
removed from the regenerator through the regenerated catalyst

Table 1 Boundary conditions

Velocity (m/s)
Temperature (K)
Gas volume fraction
Solid volume fraction

Spent catalyst

air ring

air ring

catalyst outlet






3.2 Simulation Code and Solution Method. This simulation

was carried out using the commercial CFD solver FLUENT 13.0.
FLUENT uses the finite volume method [34] to solve partial differential equations by discretizing the equations over finite volumes.
The Phase Coupled SIMPLE algorithm was used to adjust the pressure and velocities after each iteration when solving the gassolid
momentum equations. Each simulation for hydrodynamics flow
was performed over 60 s of flow time, to make sure the flow had
reached quasi-steady state. For cases which include chemical
reactions, quasi-steady state was reached after approximately
20 min of flow time. The calculations were run on a high performance computing cluster at Purdue University Calumet.

3.3 Boundary and Initial Conditions. The air inlets and catalyst inlets are defined as mass flow inlets. In order to have a constant amount of the regenerated catalyst extracted from the
regenerator, the regenerated catalyst outlets were defined as mass
flow inlets, but with a directional vector pointed outward of the
outlet surface. The cyclone inlets were defined as pressure outlets
with an outside pressure of 1 atm. The walls were set as no-slip
wall boundary conditions for both the solid and gas phases. The
boundary conditions are shown in Table 1.
The catalyst particles were set as the solid phase. Air is used as
the gas phase to fluidize the catalyst particles. The gas superficial
velocities range from 0.6 m/s to 0.7 m/s. The detailed simulation
parameters used in FLUENT 13.0 are listed in Table 2. The phase
properties are shown in Table 3. A certain amount of catalyst
patched bed with solid and gas velocity zero was used as the initial condition. The catalyst bed at t 0 s is 0.3 of the total
Table 2 Detailed simulation parameters
Gassolid two-phase flow model
Flow type
Wall boundary condition
Time step used
Maximum number of iteration
per time step
Residual convergence criteria
Pressure velocity coupling scheme
Under-relaxation factors

Maximum solid packing

volume fraction
Discretization scheme
Air density
Superficial velocity
Air viscosity
Catalyst particle density
Catalyst particle mean diameter
Solid volume fraction in the bed
Gas and solid velocity
Fig. 1

Value and methods

EulerianEulerian model with
kinetic theory (granular)
Pressure based and transient
No slip
0.01 s
Phase coupled SIMPLE
Pressure 0.3, momentum 0.7,
fraction 0.5, granular
temperature 0.2.
First-order upwind
1.225 kg/m3
0.60.7 m/s
1.78  105 kg/(m s)
1440 kg/m3
75 lm

Computational domain

021012-4 / Vol. 7, JUNE 2015

Transactions of the ASME

Downloaded From: on 01/10/2017 Terms of Use:

Table 3 Phase properties




O2, N2

With reactions



O2, N2, CO, CO2, H2O

Catalyst coke hydrogen

Incompressible ideal gas law

Volume weighted mixing law

Mixing law

regenerator height with a volume fraction of 0.505. The initial

conditions are shown in Fig. 2.

the discontinuity in the drag coefficient can be avoided. The constants u1 , u2 , u3 are the switch factors when the void fractions
ai for the dividing criteria are 0.80, 0.933, and 0.990, respectively.

Results and Discussions

4.1 Grid Sensitivity Study. Since the governing equations

are discretized using the finite volume method, the quality and
quantity of the finite volume (cells) directly influence the results.
To reduce the error created by coarse grids, a grid sensitivity study
was conducted. Two grids with 2  106 cells and 4.5  106 cells
were compared. Figure 3 shows the comparison of the solid volume fraction profiles obtained using both grids at flow time of
30 s. The 4.5  106 cell mesh has a better mesh quality compared
to the 2  106 one, but the solid volume fraction profiles along the
regenerator height are almost the same, which means the 2  106
cell mesh can catch the flow hydrodynamics characteristics very
well. The computational run time needed for the 4.5  106 cell
mesh is almost twice that of the 2  106 cell. Thus, the 2  106
cell mesh was used for this study.
4.2 GasSolid Flow Hydrodynamics. Drag force between
gas phase and particle phase plays an important role in the gas
solid multiphase flow hydrodynamics [21], thus modeling the drag
force correctly in simulation to predict the flow pattern is also of
great significance. Many researchers developed their drag models
for the gassolid two-phase interaction, such as the SyamlalOBrien drag model [32], the Gidaspow [31] drag model, the Wen
and Yu [35] drag model, the McKeen drag model [36] and the
modified drag model by Gao et al. [3,17,21]. In the modified drag
model by Gao et al., the flow is divided into four zones based on
the void fraction (ag  0.8, 0.8 < ag < 0.933, 0.933 < ag < 0.990,
and 0.990 < ag < 1.00). Each zone has its own equation of drag
force coefficient. Therefore, the modified drag model is called the
four-zone drag model. The modified drag model considers the
effect of particle clustering in the dense and subdense zones by
assuming an effective particle cluster diameter of 300 lm. Using a
weighted average of four scales equation [3,4,21]


tan1 150  1:75ag  ai 



Table 4 shows the flow zone classification and accordingly drag

force coefficient. The drag model sensitivity study was carried out
by applying each existing drag model to the regenerator CFD
model, then comparing the results of phase density with plant data
to decide which one to use. The modified drag model is not readily available in FLUENT, so a customized script was written to
incorporate it into the model. According to Fig. 4, in terms of the
solid volume fraction at different heights in the FCC regenerator,
the modified drag model with a mean effective cluster diameter of
dp 300 lm [37] in the dense zone and an effective diameter of
dp0 150 lm in the dilute zone gives better predictions compared
to the other drag models for this gassolid two-phase flow. For
example, at the tangential line level, the solid volume fraction predicted by the modified drag model is around 0.26, which is close
to the real time operation plant data 0.3. The SyamlalOBrien
drag model, Gidaspow drag model, McKeen drag model overpredicted the value. Based on the total solid catalyst and gas mass
flow rates (which cannot be disclosed due to confidentiality) going
through the cyclones measured in the real regenerator, the solid
volume fraction in the dilute zone, the solid volume fraction is
approximately 0.01.
As shown in Fig. 5, the solid volume fraction distribution on
the vertical plane in the regenerator for the results from the modified drag model show four distinct zones: dense phase, subdense
phase, dilute phase, and subdiluter phase, which agree with the
research conducted by Gao et al. [3,17]. The bottom dense catalyst
bed has high solid volume fraction that is around 0.6, while the
top dilute zone has low volume fraction below 0.1. The fluidized
catalyst bed has an average solid volume fraction around 0.35.

b 1  u1 b1 u1 f1  u2 b2 u2 1  u3 b3 u3 b4 g

Fig. 2 Solid bed at t 5 0 s

Journal of Thermal Science and Engineering Applications

Fig. 3 Solid volume fraction profiles along the regenerator

height by using different mesh sizes

JUNE 2015, Vol. 7 / 021012-5

Downloaded From: on 01/10/2017 Terms of Use:

4.3 Gas-Catalysts Reacting Flow. As the main function of

the regenerator is to recover the reactivity of the catalysts by
removing the coke and hydrogen on the surface, the gassolid
hydrodynamics multiphase model was then modified to include
the reaction model to simulate the coke with hydrogen and air
combustion reactions. The global reactions considered in this
model are carbon oxidation, hydrogen combustion, and CO combustion. The global reaction mechanisms are listed below and the
kinetic constants are listed in Table 5 [4143]

Fig. 4 Solid volume fraction profiles along the regenerator

height by using different drag models

Figure 6 shows the average solid volume fractions on five different heights over time. It can be seen that the fluidized bed has
reached quasi-steady state after 40 s, which is a distinctive characteristic of the BFB and circulation fluidized bed [40]. According
to Fig. 7, the average solid volume fraction along the normalized
regenerator height presents a four-region regenerator, which has a
high solid volume fraction dense bed, subdense bed, low solid volume fraction subdense zone, and a dilute zone. The spike line at
the height around h/H 0.9 is due to the solid catalyst accumulation on the top of the cyclones. The low velocity in the dilute zone
allows the solid catalyst to settle and accumulate on the top of the
cyclones. The predicted solid volume fraction profile in the regenerator shows 0.3 at the tangential line level and 0.01 at the cyclone
inlet level, which matches with plant data. In the real operation,
there are two pressure taps used to measure the pressure located at
h/H 0.83 and h/H 0.13 normalized heights. In normal operation, the pressure drop measured between h/H 0.83 and
h/H 0.13 ranges from 65 to 80 in. water. The pressure drop predicted by the CFD model is approximately 71 in. water which is
within the range.

C 1=2 O2 ! CO


C O2 ! CO2


CO 1=2 O2 ! CO2


H 1=4 O2 ! 1=2 H2 O


The kinetic parameters for reactions (R1) and (R2) listed in Table
5 are obtained from the experimental work done by Kanervo et al.
[41], in which reaction rates of combustion of coke on FCC solid
catalyst particles to produce CO and CO2 in a reactor were measured. The kinetic parameters from the experimental work of
hydrogen combustion in carbonaceous deposits on zeolite-type
cracking catalysts reported by Wang et al. [42] was used for the
hydrogen combustion (R4). The kinetics for the CO combustion is
adopted from the work by Dryer and Glassman [43]. This kinetics
does not include the effects of CO combustion promoter which is
used in the actual regenerator operations.
According to the plant measurement, the catalyst used for this
simulation contains 1% coke on its surface, with carbon counting
for 92% and the remaining 8% is hydrogen. The reacting flow
model was developed by incorporating the reaction model with
the kinetic constants listed in Table 5 into the hydrodynamics
model. The results of the flow hydrodynamics, temperature fields
and species concentrations are presented in Figs. 810.
Figure 8 shows the gas temperature change with time from the
initial operation condition to the steady state. It indicates that the
temperature changes rapidly during the first 500 s, then increases
slowly and reaches a steady state after 1000 s. In addition, the
temperatures at different heights indicate that the temperature in
the dense bed is lower than temperature in the dilute phase with a
difference around 20 K. Catalyst temperature is very important to
the crude oil cracking process which occurs in the riser part of an
FCC process. Catalysts leaving the regenerator with low temperature could indicate low coke removal efficiency and may not be
able to crack crude oil in the riser part effectively. However,

Fig. 5 Contour of solid (catalyst) volume fraction over time

021012-6 / Vol. 7, JUNE 2015

Transactions of the ASME

Downloaded From: on 01/10/2017 Terms of Use:

Table 4 Modified drag model with zone classification

Void fraction

Drag force model

Drag force coefficient

qg ap up  ug
ag dp 2

ap ag qg up  ug
b2 CD 
dp 1  ag 0:293

Ergun [38]


b1 150



Wen and Yu [35]


Schiller and Naumann [39]

ap 1  ag lg



1 0:15Re0:867
Rep  1000
ap ag dp ug  up



: 0:44
Rep 1000

ap ag qg up  ug 2:65
b3 CD

ap qg up  ug
b 4 CD


1 0:15Re0:867
Rep  1000
ap ag dp0 ug  up


: 0:44
Rep 1000

catalysts leaving the regenerator with high temperature can potentially damage the catalysts reactivity and cyclones.
The gas temperature contours and average gas temperature
plots in Fig. 9 show the temperature above the dense catalyst bed
is higher than in the bed. The unburned CO produced in the fluidization bed enters into the dilute zone where it is burned. Unlike
in the dense bed, where most of the energy released from any
combustion is absorbed by the solid due to the high solid concentration, most of the heat released by any combustion in the dilute
zone goes to the gas. Temperature contour plots in Fig. 9(a) show
a temperature difference, higher on one side of the regenerator
and lower on the other side. This is due to the opening direction of
the catalyst and air inlets. Figure 9(b) shows the mass-weighted
average temperature at different levels along the regenerator
heights. At the fluidized bed, the average temperature is around
1010 K. The temperature drops are due to the input of low temperature air. Temperature increases from 1010 K to 1026 K gradually
above the fluidized bed. Between the level h/H 0.6 and
h/H 0.8, the gas temperature stabilizes. The sudden drop of temperature at the top of the regenerator is due to the cyclones into
which high temperature gas flows.

Fig. 7 Average solid volume fraction and pressure drop profiles along regenerator height

Figure 10 shows the profiles of mass-weighted average species

concentrations along the whole regenerator height. From Fig. 10,
the major species is CO2, which increases above the dense bed.
Oxygen decreases greatly above the lower air ring, and decreases
further to a very small percentage above the upper air ring. The
rapid decrease of O2 indicates that reactions occurred in the bed.
According to Table 6, the air-catalyst two-phase flow hydrodynamics can be validated. The bed height and total catalyst mass
inside of the regenerator cannot be directly measured, but they
can be estimated by measuring the pressure drop inside the regenerator. Pressure drop between two locations at different heights
Table 5 Reaction heat and kinetics

Fig. 6

Heat of

factor, (A)

E (J/mol)


0.155  108 s1 atm1

0.376  108 s1 atm1
0.149  1012 kg1 m3 atm2
3.3  1007 kg1s1 atm1


Average solid volume fractions over time

Journal of Thermal Science and Engineering Applications

JUNE 2015, Vol. 7 / 021012-7

Downloaded From: on 01/10/2017 Terms of Use:

Fig. 8

Mass-weighted average temperature over time

Fig. 10 Profiles of solid temperature and species mass fractions at 1000 s

(one in the dense zone and the other in the dilute zone) inside the
regenerator is measured during the regenerator operation. The
error of the pressure drop calculated by the model relative to the
average of the pressure drop range of the actual regenerator is 4%.
The cyclone circulation is the total amount of catalysts that pass
through the cyclones, which shows a 2.74% error compared to the
plant data.
The temperatures calculated by the simulation agree with the
temperature measured at the plant. The relative errors of the temperatures in the dense zone and in the dilute zone are 0.50% and
0.29%, respectively. The volume fraction of CO2 in the gas at the
outlet (cyclone inlets) predicted by the model is very close to the
measured value at the plant (1.2% relative error). The relative
error of CO is high. However, it is important to note that the CO
concentration at the cyclone inlets is extremely low. This high relative error of CO concentration is due to the fact that the kinetics
for the CO combustion used in the model does not take into
account any CO combustion promoters. In the real operations, CO
combustion promoters are added into the catalyst bed to promote
CO combustion in the dense bed. It is desired to have as much CO
as possible burned inside the dense bed thus the amount of CO
that goes CO combustion in the dilute zone can be minimized. As
mentioned earlier, any heat released in the dilute zone can significantly increase the gas temperature which could potentially damage the cyclones. The C reduction rate is calculated as the ratio of
the mass fraction of C on the catalyst surface at the regenerated
catalyst outlets to the mass fraction of C at the catalyst inlets. The
relative error of the C reduction rate predicted by the model is
1.7%. Despite the large relative error of the predicted CO

Table 6 Relative errors of the simulation results when compared to plant data
Relative error (5)

Fig. 9 (a) Gas temperature contours and (b) average gas temperature at time 1000 s

021012-8 / Vol. 7, JUNE 2015

Catalyst circulation
Dense zone temperature
Dilute zone temperature
DP (inH2O)
C reduction rate (%)
Volume fraction at outlets
O2 (vol. %)


Transactions of the ASME

Downloaded From: on 01/10/2017 Terms of Use:

concentration at the cyclone inlets, the model is able to accurately

predict the C reduction rate and the flow distribution (based on the
comparison of the pressure drop inside the regenerator and the
catalyst mass flow rate which passes through the cyclones).


A detailed study of gassolid two-phase flow hydrodynamics

based on the Eulerian model with kinetic theory of granular flow
was conducted. A three-dimensional industrial regenerator simulation was carried out using the commercial software FLUENT. A
modified drag model with effective particle grouping size 300 lm
in the dense phase and 150 lm in the dilute phase was used to calculate the drag force between the gas and solid. The Eulerian multiphase model with two-phase hydrodynamics and heterogeneous
combustion was developed to simulate the chemical reactions
inside of the regenerator. The developed model can predict the
flow field with species and temperature details. The simulation
results were validated by plant data.


cross-sectional area, m2
correction coefficient
drag coefficient
friction coefficient
diameter of particle, m
average diameter of particle, m
particle effective mean diameter in dense bed, m
restitution coefficient
gravity acceleration, m/s2
mass, kg
radial distribution function
regenerator height
single particle mass of phase p, kg
single particle mass of phase s, kg
total mass, kg
phase number
molecular weight of species i
volumetric particle number
pressure, Pa
collision part of particle phase pressure, s
radial coordinate
bed radius, m
bed expansion number
Reynolds number
cluster Reynolds number
number of solid phase
stoichiometric coefficient of reactants
time, mean residence time of binary mixture, s
phase temperature
reference temperature (298 K)
velocity, m/s
superficial gas velocity, m/s
minimum fluidization velocity, m/s
volumetric fraction of phase ip
species i mass fraction
bulk density of phase ip

Greek Symbols

volume fraction
void fraction for the dividing criteria
interphase momentum exchange coefficient, kg/m3 s
dissipation of energy fluctuation, kg s3/m
dilute diffusion coefficient for energy fluctuation, kg s/m
diffusion coefficient for the energy fluctuation, kg s/m
mean void fraction of dense phase
bed voidage at minimum fluidization velocity

Journal of Thermal Science and Engineering Applications


segregation efficiency
granular temperature, m2/s2
average granular temperature, m2/s2
particle phase dilute viscosity, Pa s
particle phase shear viscosity, Pa s
solid bulk viscosity, Pa s
density, kg/m3
mean bed density of dense phase, kg/m3
stress tensor, Pa

i, j, k

gas phase
direction coordinate
phase m
total number of reactants
particle phase
solid phase
solid-phase number

[1] Mathiesen, V., Solberg, T., and Hjertager, B. H., 2000, An Experimental and
Computational Study of Multiphase Flow Behavior in a Circulating Fluidized
Bed, Int. J. Multiphase Flow, 26(3), pp. 387419.
[2] Hernandez-Jimenez, F., Third, J. R., Scosta-Iborra, A., and Muller, C. R., 2011,
Comparison of Bubble Eruption Models With Two-Fluid Simulations in a 2D
GasFluidized Bed, Chem. Eng. J., 117(1), pp. 328339.
[3] Gao, J., Lan, X., Fan, Y., Chang, J., Wang, G., Lu, C., and Xu, C., 2009, CFD
Modeling and Validation of the Turbulent Fluidized Bed of FCC Particles,
Particle Technol. Fluidization, 55(7), pp. 16801694.
[4] Huilin, L., and Gidaspow, D., 2003, Hydrodynamics of Binary Fluidization in
a Riser: CFD Simulation Using Granular Temperatures, Chem. Eng. Sci.,
58(16), pp. 37773792.
[5] Wang, S., Lu, H., Li, X., Yu, L., Ding, J., and Zhao, Y., 2008, CFD Simulations of Bubbling Beds of Rough Spheres, Chem. Eng. Sci., 58(23),
pp. 56535662.
[6] Chiesa, M., Mathiesen, V., Melheim, J. A., and Halvorsen, B., 2005,
Numerical Simulation of Particulate Flow by the EulerianLagrangian and the
EulerianEulerian Approach With Opplication to a Fluidized Bed, Comput.
Chem. Eng., 29(2), pp. 291304.
[7] Chen, Y.-M., 2006, Recent Advances in FCC Technology, Powder Technol.,
163(12), pp. 28.
[8] Geldart, D., 1973, Types of Gas Fluidization, Powder Technol., 7(5),
pp. 285292.
[9] Goldschmidt, M. J. V., Kuipers, J. A. M., and van Swaaij, W. P. M., 2001,
Hydrodynamic Modeling of Dense GasFluidized Beds Using the Kinetic
Theory of Granular Flow: Effect of Coefficient of Restitution on Bed
Dynamics, Chem. Eng. Sci., 56(2), pp. 571578.
[10] Goldschmidt, M. J. V., Kuipers, J. A. M., and Beetstra, R., 2004,
Hydrodynamic Modeling of Dense GasFluidized Beds: Comparison and Validation of 3D Discrete Particle and Continuum Models, Powder Technol.,
142(1), pp. 2347.
[11] Hoomans, B. P., Kuipers, J. A. M., Briels, W. J., and van Swaaij, W. P. M.,
1996, Discrete Particle Simulation of Bubble and Slug Formation in a TwoDimensional GasFluidized Bed, Chem. Eng. Sci., 51(1), pp. 99108.
[12] Xu, B. H., and Yu, A. B., 1997, Numerical Simulation of the GasSolid Flow
in a Fluidized Bed by Combining Discrete Particle Method With Computational
Fluid Dynamics, Chem. Eng. Sci., 52(16), pp. 27852908.
[13] Tsuji, Y., Kawaguchi, T., and Tanaka, T., 1933, Discrete Particle Simulation
of Two-Dimensional Fluidized Bed, Powder Technol., 77(1), pp. 7987.
[14] Tsuji, Y., Tanaka, T., and Ishida, T., 1992, Lagrangian Numerical Simulation
of Plug Flow of Cohesionless Particles in a Horizontal Pipe, Powder Technol.,
71(3), pp. 239250.
[15] Hoomans, B. P. B., Kuipers, J. A. M., Briels, W. J., and Van Swaaij, W. P. M.,
1996, Discrete Particle Simulation of Bubble and Slug Formation in a TwoDimensional GasFluidised Bed: A Hard-Sphere Approach, Chem. Eng. Sci.,
51(1), pp. 99118.
[16] Xu, B. H., and Yu, A. B., 1997, Numerical Simulation of the GasSolid Flow
in a Fluidized Bed by Combining Discrete Particle Method With Computational
Fluid Dynamics, Chem. Eng. Sci., 52(16), pp. 27852809.
[17] Gao, J., Lan, X., Fan, Y., Chang, J., Wang, G., Lu, C., and Xu, C., 2009,
Hydrodynamics of GasSolid Fluidized Bed of Disparately Sized Binary Particles, Chem. Eng. Sci., 64(20), pp. 43024316.
[18] Hosseini, S. H., Rahimi, R., Zivdar, M., and Samimi, A., 2009, CFD Simulation of GasSolid Bubbling Fluidized Bed Containing FCC Particles, Korean
J. Chem. Eng., 26(5), pp. 14051413.
[19] Hosseini, S. H., Ahmadi, G., Rahimi, R., Zivdar, M., and Esfahany, M. N.,
2010, CFD Studies of Solids Hold-Up Distribution and Circulation Patterns in
GasSolid Fluidized Beds, Powder Technol., 200(3), pp. 202215.
[20] Benyahia, S., Arastoopour, H., Knowlton, T. M., and Massah, H., 2000,
Simulation of Particles and Gas Flow Behavior in the Riser Section of a Circulating Fluidized Bed Using the Kinetic Theory Approach for the Particulate
Phase, Powder Technol., 112(12), pp. 2433.

JUNE 2015, Vol. 7 / 021012-9

Downloaded From: on 01/10/2017 Terms of Use:

[21] Li, P., Lan, X., Xu, C., Wang, G., Lu, C., and Gao, J., 2009, Drag Models for
Simulating GasSolid Flow in the Turbulent Fluidization, Particuology, 7(4),
pp. 269277.
[22] Bai, D., Zhu, J.-X., Jin, Y., and Yu, Z., 1988, Simulation of FCC Catalyst
Regeneration in a Riser Regenerator, Chem. Eng. J., 71(2), pp. 97109.
[23] Dimitriadis, V. D., Lappas, A. A., and Vasalos, L. A., 1998, Kinetics of Combustion of Carbon in Carbonaceous Deposits on Zeolite Catalysts for Fluid Catalytic Cracking Units (FCCU). Comparison Between Pt and Non Pt-Containing
Catalysts, Fuel, 77(12), pp. 13771383.
[24] Faltsi-Saravelou, O., Vasalos, A., and Dimogiorgas, G., 1991, FbSim: A
Model for Fluidized Bed Simulation II. Simulation of an Industrial Fluidized
Catalytic Cracking Regenerator, Comput. Chem. Eng., 15(9), pp. 647656.
[25] Sotirchos, A. V., Mon, E., and Amundson, N. R., 1983, Combustion of Coke
Deposits in a Catalyst Pellet, Chem. Eng. Sci., 38(1), pp. 5568.
[26] Lee, L.-S., Yu, S.-W., and Cheng, C.-T., 1989, Fluidized-Bed Catalyst Cracking
Regenerator Modeling and Analysis, Chem. Eng. J., 40(2), pp. 7182.
[27] Cao, B., Zhang, P., Zheng, X., Xu, C., and Gao, J., 2008, Numerical Simulation of Hydrodynamics and Coke Combustions in FCC Regenerator, Pet. Sci.
Technol., 26(3), pp. 256269.
[28] Sapre, A. V., Leib, T. M., and Anderson, D. H., 1990, FCC Regenerator Flow
Model, Chem. Eng. Sci., 45(8), pp. 22032209.
[29] Almuttahar, A., and Taghipour, F., 2008, Computational Fluid Dynamics of
High Density Circulating Fluidized Bed Riser: Study of Modeling Parameters,
Powder Technol., 185(1), pp. 1123.
[30] Gunn, D. J., 1978, Transfer of Heat or Mass to Particles in Fixed and Fluidized
Bed, Int. J. Heat Mass Transfer, 21(4), pp. 467476.
[31] Tsuo, Y. P., and Gidaspow, D., 2004, Computation of Flow Patterns in Circulating Fluidized Beds, AIChE J., 36(6), pp. 885896.
[32] Syamlal, M., and OBrien, T. J., 1989, Computer Simulation of Bubbles in a
Fluidized Bed, AIChE Symp. Ser., 85(1), pp. 2231.

021012-10 / Vol. 7, JUNE 2015

[33] FLUENT 13.0, Users Guide, FLUENT, Inc.

[34] Versteeg, H. K., and Malalasekera, W., 1995, An Introduction to Computational
Fluid Dynamics, the Finite Volume Method, John Wiley & Sons, New York.
[35] Wen, C. Y., and Yu, Y. H., 1966, Mechanics of Fluidization, Chem. Eng.
Prog. Symp. Ser., 62, pp. 100111.
[36] McKeen, T., and Pugsley, T., 2003, Simulation and Experiment Validation of
a Freely Bubbling Bed of FCC Catalyst, Powder Technol., 129(13), pp.
[37] Lettieri, P., Newtone, D., and Yates, J. G., 2002, Homogeneous Bed Expansion of FCC Catalysts, Influence of Temperature on the Parameters of the
RichardsonZaki Equation, Powder Technol., 123(2-3), pp. 221231.
[38] Ergun, S., 1952, Fluid Flow Through Packed Columns, Chem. Eng. Prog.,
48(6), pp. 8994.
[39] Schiller, L., and Naumann, A., 1933, A Drag Coefficient Correlation, VDI
Zeits, 77, pp. 318320.
[40] de Souza Braun, M. P., Mineto, A. T., Navarro, H. A., Cabezas-Gomez, L., and
da Silva, R. C., 2010, The Effect of Numerical Diffusion and the Influence of
Computational Grid Over GasSolid Two-Phase Flow in a Bubbling Fluidized
Bed, Math. Comput. Modell., 52(910), pp. 13901942.
[41] Kanervo, J. M., Krause, A. O., Aittama, J. R., Hagelberg, P. H., Lipiainen, K. J.
T., Eilos, I. H., Hiltunen, J. S., and Niemei, V. M., 2001, Kinetics of Regeneration of a Cracking Catalyst Derived From TPO Measurements, Chem. Eng.
Sci., 56(4), pp. 12211227.
[42] Wang, G.-X., Lin, S.-X., Mo, W.-J., Peng, C.-L., and Yang, G.-H., 1986,
Kinetics of Combustion of Carbon and Hydrogen in Carbonaceous Deposits
on Zeolite-Type Cracking Catalyst, Ind. Eng. Chem. Process Des. Dev., 25(3),
pp. 626630.
[43] Dryer, F. L., and Glassman, I., 1973, High-Temperature Oxidation of CO and
CH4, 14th Symposium International on Combustion, Combustion Institute, p.

Transactions of the ASME

Downloaded From: on 01/10/2017 Terms of Use: