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journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/seppur

columnA hybrid CFD and radiotracer RTD analysis approach

Ghiyas Ud Din a,c, , Imran Raq Chughtai b , Mansoor Hameed Inayat b ,

Iqbal Hussain Khan c , Nasrullah Khan Qazi d

a

Department of Nuclear Engineering, Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences [PIEAS], P.O. Nilore, Islamabad, Pakistan

b

Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences [PIEAS], P.O. Nilore, Islamabad, Pakistan

c

Isotope Application Division, Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology [PINSTECH], P.O. Nilore, Islamabad, Pakistan

d

Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology [PINSTECH], P.O. Nilore, Islamabad, Pakistan

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: A Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) based model of a two-phase countercurrent pulsed sieve plate

Received 19 February 2010 extraction column has been developed. EulerEuler multiphase ow model and standard k turbulence

Received in revised form 14 April 2010 model for multiphase ow were used. Sieve plates in the column were modeled using the porous media

Accepted 15 April 2010

formulation. The coefcients of porous media were evaluated using radiotracer RTD analysis data. A pulse

generation model was developed and incorporated to simulate the effect of pulses in the system. The

Keywords:

developed simulation approach has been proved successful and it provided the possibility of modeling

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)

the subject system with lesser computational resources. The models used for CFD simulation of the system

Radiotracer

Residence Time Distribution (RTD)

were suitable and simulation results were found 72.17% of the radiotracer experiment.

Liquidliquid extraction 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction involved. Pulsed sieve plate extraction column, which is the subject

of this paper, nds a great deal of applications in the eld of haz-

Liquidliquid extraction is a process of separation of con- ardous materials due to the absence of mechanical moving parts

stituents of a liquid phase by contacting it with another immiscible inside the column and facility of having the pulsing mechanism

liquid phase. Petroleum, nuclear, chemical, metallurgical, phar- away from the column. The pulsation of uids inside the sieve tray

maceutical, food processing and bio-processing industries are the column produces shearing and turbulence causing the breakage

major beneciaries of this technology. Two major categories of of droplets and as a consequence, the interfacial area required for

liquidliquid extraction equipments are single-stage and multi- mass transfer operation is increased. Also, phases in such columns

stage extractors [1]. Single-stage equipments provide one stage are subject to ow counter currently to achieve high concentration

contact in a single or a combination of devices. A mixer-settler is a gradients for efcient mass transfer.

typical example of these kinds of equipments. In multi-stage equip- The design of a pulsed sieve plate extraction column is generally

ments, many stages or their equivalents may be incorporated into based on HTUNTU concept in which ow models such as mixers in

a single device. Centrifugal extractors and column type contactors series with back mixing and axial dispersion model are employed.

are typical examples of multi-stage equipments. The column type But these models are too simple to describe the real hydrodynamics

contactors are commonly used in chemical industries. These can be of such systems, as they are not capable of visualizing the ow pat-

classied as static columns (e.g. sieve tray, randomly packed and tern inside the system. Detailed experimental investigations have

structure packed columns) and agitated columns (e.g. rotating disk been reported with reference to the hydrodynamic characteristics

contactor, Scheibel column, Kuhni column, Karr column and pulsed of a pulsed sieve plate extraction column as a function of operating

column). Van Dijck [2] introduced the concept of pulsed columns. parameters using radiotracer technology [35].

He classied them as reciprocating perforated plate column and In this modern era, industry is looking for more predictive tech-

liquid pulsed column depending upon the mechanism of pulsing niques and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is a relatively new

but more powerful approach that provides detailed spatial distri-

bution of ow elds. It can provide three-dimensional visualization

of a system by creating maps of velocity vectors, streamlines or iso-

Corresponding author at: Department of Nuclear Engineering, Pakistan Institute

value contours, etc. The exciting CFD results are being questioned

of Engineering and Applied Sciences [PIEAS], P.O. Nilore, Islamabad 45650, Pakistan.

Tel.: +92 51 2207381; fax: +92 51 2208070. by industries about reliability due to the lack of experimental data

E-mail addresses: ghiyasuddin@hotmail.com, fac192@pieas.edu.pk (G.U. Din). for model verication and validation. This is the reason why CFD

1383-5866/$ see front matter 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

doi:10.1016/j.seppur.2010.04.017

G.U. Din et al. / Separation and Purication Technology 73 (2010) 302309 303

Specication of the pulsed sieve plate extraction column and geometric parameters

niques and the trend is to combine experimental techniques and

of the simplied model for CFD simulation.

CFD in order to obtain reliable quantitative results for complex

industrial processes. Internal diameter of the column (m) 5 102

Height of the column (m) 2

The history of interest in the CFD simulation of pulsed columns

Number of sieve plates 38

started somewhere in early 1990s. Hydrodynamic parameters of Plate spacing (m) 5 102

such columns have been investigated using the numerical approach Diameter of hole in sieve plate (m) 2 103

by various researchers. The ow patterns generated in a disc and Average number of holes in sieve plate 140

doughnut pulsed column for the steady and turbulent case were Average free area in a sieve plate (%) 25

Diameter of central rod (m) 0.8 102

simulated [6]. Some design parameter issues for single-phase ow

Number of separating chambers 2

in a disc and doughnut pulsed extraction column were reported Diameter of separating chamber (m) 9.4 102

and a correlation for the axial mixing as a function of geometrical Number of feed vessels 2

parameters and pulsation conditions was developed by numer- Number of collection vessels 2

Diameter of the piston of pulsing unit (m) 6.62 102

ical experiments [7,8]. Mathematical description and numerical

Height of the column for CFD simulation (m) 0.25

simulation for the ow structure, velocity elds and ow energy Number of sieve plates for CFD simulation 4

parameters of single-phase pulsed turbulent ow in a pulsed Height of separating chamber for CFD simulation (m) 0.286

extraction column with discs and doughnut were presented [9].

This study was extended to two-phase ow and Lagrangian simula-

tion strategy was evaluated to measure the RTD of droplets [10,11].

The simulation results were compared to the single drop video

ture in the upper separating chamber and overows into the light

experiments that were found around 20% in agreement. Simula-

phase collection vessel. Similarly, the heavy phase from another

tion of a disc and doughnut pulsed extraction column was carried

feed vessel is fed to the top of the column through a metering pump.

out by incorporating Eulerian approach and turbulence using the

The heavy phase ows downwards through the column and sep-

CFD software ASTRID and the continuous phase velocity, turbulent

arates out from the light phase in the lower separating chamber.

kinetic energy and holdups were compared with the experimen-

The heavy phase then rises through the balance leg (Fig. 1) and is

tal results [12]. The turbulent energy parameters for single-phase

collected in the heavy phase collection vessel. The column is t-

ow in a pulsed extraction column with discs and doughnuts were

ted with regularly spaced (5 102 m) sieve plates mounted on

studied [13].

a rod of diameter 0.8 102 m at the center of the column. The

A CFD model based on EulerEuler approach and standard k

sieve plates help to increase the interfacial area between the two

turbulence model was presented to understand the hydrodynam-

immiscible liquids by breaking the droplets of dispersed phase. A

ics of a pulsed extraction column with sieves and down comers

pulse unit located at the base of lower separating chamber provides

[14]. The holdups calculated by CFD simulation were compared

pulses to the process uids thus increasing the intimate contact.

with those of experimental.

Variations in frequency and amplitude of the pulse affect the inten-

CFD simulation of pulsed sieve plate extraction column with

sity of contact between the two immiscible phases. Table 1 gives a

specied geometry as given in Section 2.1 has not been worked out

complete specication of the pulsed sieve plate extraction column

previously. The hydrodynamics of such systems is different with

under investigation.

those of pulsed columns with discs and doughnuts and sieve plates

In present investigations, the column is operated with water as

with down comers. To handle a two-phase ow through the sieve

dispersed and kerosene as continuous phase [3,4]. This method of

plates, a porous media formulation approach has been adopted.

operation forms a liquidliquid interface in the lower separating

This approach has also not been explored by previous researchers

chamber at about 10 cm below the light phase inlet. The position of

for such type of ows.

this interface is shown in Fig. 1. This interface level is stabilized with

The specic objective of this paper is to model a pulsed sieve

the help of the balance leg before the start of an experiment. Fur-

plate extraction column using a hybrid CFD and RTD analysis

ther, depending upon the topology of the two phases, a pulsed sieve

approach with lesser computational resources. The simulation is

plate extraction column can be operated in mixer-settler, disper-

carried out using the commercial CFD software package FLUENT 6.3

sion or emulsion modes [16,17]. In present experiment, the column

[15]. Radiotracer RTD analysis experiment is carried out to evaluate

is operated in the emulsion regime, i.e. dispersed phase (water)

the holdup of dispersed phase in the system. The sieve plates in the

remained dispersed throughout the plate stack and no coalescence

column are modeled using the porous media formulation while the

into layers occurred at the plates.

coefcients of porous media are evaluated using radiotracer RTD

analysis experimental data.

2. Materials and methods

RTD analysis of dispersed phase was carried out using the radio-

2.1. Experimental setup and operation tracer technique. For this purpose, the column was set to operate

at a dispersed phase supercial velocity (Ud = 0.34 102 m/s), con-

The schematic diagram of pulsed sieve plate extraction column tinuous phase supercial velocity (Uc = 0.37 102 m/s), pulsation

under investigation is shown in Fig. 1. The internal diameter of the frequency (f = 1.4 s1 ) and pulsation amplitude (A = 1 102 m). To

column is 5 102 m and height is 2.0 m. Two separating chambers, label the dispersed phase, 99m Tc radiotracer (0.5 mCi) was injected

one at the top and the other at the bottom of the column are also in the form of an instantaneous pulse at location D1 (Fig. 1).

part of this apparatus. The mode of operation of the pulsed sieve The movement of dispersed phase was traced by monitoring the

plate extraction column is countercurrent in which the light phase radiotracer with the help of lead-collimated scintillation detectors

(from a feed vessel) is fed to the bottom of the column through a mounted at the inlet (D2 ) and outlet (D3 ) of the column as shown in

metering pump. It ows upwards through the sieve plate column Fig. 1. The experimental mean residence time (MRT) of the system

and encounters with the heavy phase here. After passing through was calculated by the difference of rst moments of outlet and inlet

the column, the light phase separates out from the two-phase mix- response curves. Mathematical expression for the rst moment in

304 G.U. Din et al. / Separation and Purication Technology 73 (2010) 302309

G.U. Din et al. / Separation and Purication Technology 73 (2010) 302309 305

of the sieve plate. The coefcients in the porous media model were

evaluated using experimental values of volume fraction obtained

by the radiotracer RTD analysis technique (Section 2.2) and operat-

ing velocities in the system. The complete modeling aspects of this

porous medium are described in Section 2.5. As it is the rst attempt

towards CFD modeling of pulsed sieve plate extraction column with

the above-mentioned geometry and models, the knowledge gained

through this modeling may help in understanding the hydrody-

namics of industrial scale equipment.

A 2D axisymmetric geometry of the pulsed sieve plate extraction

column was created as per dimensions given in Table 1 using the

processor GAMBIT. A ner mesh was created inside and in the vicin-

ity of porous media in order to achieve greater numerical accuracy

and better ow visualization in the regions of maximum velocity

Fig. 2. Typical normalized RTD function curves at the input (D2 ) and output (D3 )

gradients. The process of this mesh generation has resulted in a

with model output response of dispersed phase in response to an instantaneous 33,578 unstructured quadrilateral cells for the complete geometry

pulse injection at (D1 ). of the column along with separators. Fig. 3(a) shows the mesh gen-

erated into the geometry along with a magnied view of the mesh

discrete form can be written as: generated in the porous media and area between the media. While

carrying out the CFD simulation, the pulsed sieve plate extraction

ti Ci ti column was considered to operate as per specications given in

i Section 2.2.

First moment = (1)

Ci ti EulerEuler multiphase ow model was chosen for CFD simu-

lation of the subject system. This model solves the conservation of

i

mass and momentum equation for each phase. The conservation

where C is the tracer concentration (counts/s in present case); t is equations for mass and momentum can be written as:

the time of measurement (s); t is the time interval between the

two measurements (s); i = 0, 1, 2, 3, . . . n

(q q ) + .(q q vq ) = (mpq mqp ) + Sq (3)

Overall holdup of the dispersed phase was calculated on the t

p=1

basis of above calculated MRT using the following relationship:

tQd

Hd = (2) (q q vq ) + .(q q vq vq )

VR t

where Hd is the dispersed phase holdup; t is the mean residence

n

time; Qd is the dispersed phase ow rate; VR is the effective reactor = q p + . q + q q g + (Rpq + mpq vpq mqp vqp )

volume. p=1

The hydrodynamics of the dispersed phase was simulated using

+ (Fq + Flift,q + Fvm,q ) (4)

the axial dispersion model (ADM). Fig. 2 shows typical normalized

RTD function curves obtained at the input (D2 ) and output (D3 ) with

model output response of dispersed phase in response to an instan- This equation includes the effects of drag, external body,

taneous pulse injection at (D1 ). The complete aspects of radiotracer lift and virtual mass forces. Expressions for these forces along

RTD analysis can be seen in Din et al. [4]. with the detail of terminologies involved in these equations are

given in FLUENT Documentation [15] and Ranade [18]. In the

2.3. CFD simulation strategy of pulsed sieve plate extraction present study, only the drag force is taken into account as other

column forces are very small in liquidliquid type of ows in column

type contactors. Schiller and Naumann model available in FLU-

The ow inside pulsed sieve plate extraction column is two- ENT 6.3 software was used for the evaluation of drag function.

phase, turbulent and inherently transient due to the presence of There are various turbulence models available in the FLUENT

pulses. Moreover, complex hydrodynamics in these columns need 6.3 software to describe the effects of turbulent uctuations in

reasonable resolution of grid points to visualize ow pattern inside the velocities of phases and other scalar quantities. Standard

the system and meet the convergence criteria. Therefore, a 3D k turbulence model for each phase was chosen to model the

simulation of the subject system on full scale is computationally turbulence in the system. A detail of the transport equations

expensive and very demanding with reference to computational involved in this turbulence model is available in the literature

machine time and requirement of adequate memory for data pro- [15,18].

cessing and storage. Keeping in view this, a hybrid approach based The light phase (kerosene) and the heavy phase (water) were

on the CFD modeling using FLUENT 6.3 software and radiotracer taken as continuous and dispersed phase, respectively. The diame-

RTD tracing has been developed. The strategy for this approach was ter of the droplet was assumed constant as 0.005 m. The operating

based on simulation on a 2D axisymmetric reduced domain con- pressure was set to 101,325 Pa (1 atm) at the bottom right corner

sisting of four sieve plates only. As the whole length of the column of the domain (Fig. 3(a)) and the gravity was set to 9.8 m/s2 in the

was equipped with similar sieve plates at equal distances, there- negative direction of x-axis in the operating condition panel. Spec-

fore, the ow was considered identical in the rest of the column. ied velocity boundary condition was used at the inlets and outlets

Since, it was not possible to model the sieve plates each consisting of dispersed and continuous phases with magnitude and appro-

of approximately 140 holes (Table 1) in 2D axisymmetric domain, priate direction of ow. Specied velocity boundary condition was

therefore, the sieve plate was modeled by assuming it as a thin also provided at the bottom of the column as shown in Fig. 3(a)

layer of porous medium. The porous media model representing the and a User Dened Function (UDF) was associated to the velocity

306 G.U. Din et al. / Separation and Purication Technology 73 (2010) 302309

Fig. 3. Computational grid and boundary conditions: (a) complete geometry of the column; (b) single-hole geometry for estimation of porous media coefcients.

of water to represent the generation of pulses inside the column. dissipation rate and turbulent viscosity were provided for the cal-

The pulse generation model that has been written in C++ and asso- culation. The solution was initialized by assuming a portion of the

ciated with this boundary condition is given in Section 2.4. Pressure lower separating chamber, at 10 cm below the light phase inlet, to

outlet boundary with zero Pascal gauge pressure was established be lled with dispersed phase (water). This methodology of ini-

at the top of the column as per schematic of the column. A no-slip tialization has been adopted to establish a liquidliquid interface

boundary condition was used for the walls of the column and inlets as described in Section 2.1. All the equations mentioned above

of both phases. The coefcients of porous medium were evaluated were solved simultaneous with size of the time step 0.01 s while

as described in Section 2.5 and assigned in the boundary condition 100 hydrodynamic iterations were performed in each of the time

panel. step.

Discretization was carried out by using the second order upwind

scheme for momentum, turbulent kinetic energy and turbulent dis-

sipation rate while rst order upwind discretization scheme was 2.4. Pulse generation model

used for the calculation of volume fraction. Phase coupled SIMPLE

scheme was utilized for pressurevelocity coupling. Suitable val- Flow inside the pulsed sieve plate extraction column is oscil-

ues of under relaxation factors for pressure, momentum, density, lating due to the operation of pulsing unit at the bottom. The

body force, volume fraction, turbulent kinetic energy, turbulent timevelocity prole generated due to the presence of pulses can

G.U. Din et al. / Separation and Purication Technology 73 (2010) 302309 307

be written as:

Dp2

u(t) = Af cos(2ft) (5)

Ds2

f is the frequency of pulsation; Dp is the diameter of piston; Ds is

the diameter of separator.

This velocity prole in Eq. (5) is plotted in Fig. 4 and it is associ-

ated as a UDF written in C++ to describe the velocity of water at the

bottom of the system (Section 2.3).

Fig. 6. Contours of stream function of dispersed phase at (a) t = 36.3 s and (b)

t = 36.6 s.

media. The porous media is modeled by the addition of a momen-

tum sink term in the momentum balance equation for each phase

and coordinate direction [15]:

3

3

1

Si = Dij vj + Cij vmag vj (6)

2

j=1 j=1

and D, C are prescribed matrices. It represents the loss of pressure

per unit length, which is proportional to the velocity or square of

the velocity in the porous region. First term in Eq. (6) is a viscous

loss term (also known as the Darcy Law) while the second term is

the inertial loss term.

The porous media parameters (D and C) for the present system

are not available in the literature. Therefore, a separate simulation

strategy was adopted for the calculation of these parameters (Eq.

(6)) to model the actual sieve plate. A 2D axis symmetric geome-

try of 0.05 m length and consisting of a single hole of radius 1 mm

along with 25% open area at the center was constructed in GAMBIT

as shown in Fig. 3(b). The closed area around the hole was repre-

sented as wall while symmetry boundary condition was assigned

at the periphery of this geometry. A mixture consisting of 35% of

Fig. 5. Contours of volume fraction of dispersed phase (water). water as dispersed phase and 65% of kerosene as continuous phase

308 G.U. Din et al. / Separation and Purication Technology 73 (2010) 302309

Fig. 8. Volume fraction of dispersed phase in the pulsed sieve plate column calcu-

lated by CFD.

major role in the subject system while the effect of inertial loss

term can be neglected. The coefcient of v in the above equation is

basically D in Eq. (6). Therefore:

D = 1 1007

be calculated as:

Therefore,

D = 5.23 109

tively. The parameter D as evaluated above was incorporated in the

boundary condition panel for porous media in the axial direction

while it is assumed innity in the radial direction.

Fig. 7. Contours of stream function of continuous phase at (a) t = 36.25 s and (b)

t = 36.7 s. 3. Results and discussion

was forced to move from top to bottom of this geometry to simulate Fig. 5 shows the contours of volume fraction of dispersed phase

the ow through a single hole of the sieve plate. This information (water) inside the pulsed sieve plate extraction column at a par-

regarding the proportions of water and kerosene was gathered from ticular time (t = 36.7 s) when ow conditions are developed. It has

the radiotracer RTD analysis experimental data. Therefore, this been observed that a portion of the lower separating chamber at

methodology has been named as a hybrid approach based on CFD 10 cm below the continuous phase inlet is lled with dispersed

simulation and radiotracer RTD analysis. Specied velocity bound- phase and a liquidliquid interface has been established. This inter-

ary condition was used on the top and outow boundary condition face level was basically established while initializing the solution

was assigned on the bottom of this geometry. The mixture of water (Section 2.3) and it remained there throughout the simulation

and kerosene was made to ow through this single-hole geometry time. Therefore, this simulation strategy has been proved identi-

for a range of velocities dened by the pulse velocity (Fig. 4) and cal to the experimental methodology of creating and stabilizing a

ow rates of phases. All other models used for this simulation were liquidliquid interface during the experiment (Section 2.1).

similar to that of the complete simulation of the system, i.e. multi- Fig. 5 also shows the entrance of dispersed phase from the inlet

phase EulerEuler model and standard k turbulence model were and its downward movement through the continuous phase under

invoked. The pressure drop across the single hole was calculated gravity where it encounters four regularly spaced sieve plates. It

for each of the velocity as mentioned earlier by steady state solu- has been observed that the dispersed phase is accumulated inside

tion. This pressure gradient may be considered equivalent to the and in the vicinity of sieve plates. It is because of the reason that

pressure gradient across the sieve plate with 25% open area. As the each of the sieve plates behaves as a momentum sink and causes

pressure gradient was found to be a linear function of velocity with a pressure drop across the plate. It has been further observed that

the following equation: accumulation of dispersed phase volume on the two middle sieve

p plates is almost identical while it is different on the top and bottom

= 1 107 v 2190.5 (7) plates. This difference may be due to the reason that ow conditions

x

are different before the top and after the bottom sieve plates. The

similarity in the behavior of two middle plates has supported the

R2 = 0.9939

assumption of reducing the size of the computational domain, i.e.

G.U. Din et al. / Separation and Purication Technology 73 (2010) 302309 309

the ow can be considered identical on each of the sieve plates (Sec- Acknowledgements

tion 2.3). The droplets of the dispersed phase after passing through

the sieve plates enter into the lower separating chamber, join the The authors are grateful to the Higher Education Commis-

liquidliquid interface and nally travel out of the system through sion [HEC] for nancial support in accomplishment of this study.

the dispersed phase outlet. The authors are greatly indebted to the International Atomic

Fig. 6(a and b) shows the contours of stream functions of dis- Energy Agency (IAEA) for providing RTD analysis software pack-

persed phase inside the system at two particular instants when age. The cooperation extended by IAEA through its Regional Project

the ow conditions are developed. These contour plots show re- RAS/8111 entitled Diagnosing industrial multiphase systems by

circulations of the dispersed phase droplets inside the system. process visualization using radiotracers and sealed sources is appre-

These re-circulations are due to the presence of pulsation asso- ciated. The technical assistance extended by Pakistan Institute of

ciated at the bottom of the column. A different ow pattern has Nuclear Science and Technology [PINSTECH] and Pakistan Institute

been observed in the lower and upper part of the column at time of Engineering and Applied Sciences [PIEAS] is thankfully acknowl-

t = 36.3 s (Fig. 6a). This difference is due to the reason that this ow edged.

pattern has been observed at a particular time and the position of

re-circulations may be different at some other instant. The same References

phenomenon can be observed from Fig. 6(b). It is due to the pres-

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ing has been developed which proved successful to study the extraction columns, Chem. Eng. Res. Des. 87 (1) (2009) 2535.

hydrodynamic aspects of pulsed sieve plate extraction column. [15] Fluent 6.3 documentation, 2006. Fluent Inc.

The CFD modeling of the system was based on the EulerEuler [16] D. Venkatanarasaiah, Y.B.G. Varma, Dispersed phase holdup and mass transfer

in liquid pulsed column, Bioprocess Eng. 18 (2) (1998) 119126.

multiphase model, standard k turbulence model, porous media [17] R.L. Yadav, A.W. Patwardhan, Design aspects of pulsed sieve plate columns,

model and pulse generation model. These models were found Chem. Eng. J. 138 (13) (2008) 389415.

suitable in achieving the research objective and simulation [18] V.V. Ranade, Computational Flow Modeling for Chemical Reactor Engineering,

Academic Press, 2002.

results were found 72.17% of the experimental value.

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