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Chemical Engineering Science 173 (2017) 303334

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Electrostatics in gas-solid fluidized beds: A review

Farzam Fotovat, Xiaotao T. Bi , John R. Grace
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of British Columbia, Vancouver V6T 1Z3, Canada

h i g h l i g h t s

 The characterization methods of electrostatics in fluidized beds are outlined.

 Charge generation and distribution phenomena in fluidized beds and the underlying mechanisms are discussed.
 The interplay between electrostatics and hydrodynamics in fluidized beds is reviewed.
 Practical applications of tribocharging fluidized beds are presented.
 The CFD simulations of fluidized bed systems including electrostatic charges are compared.

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

Article history: Gas-solid fluidized beds, by their nature, are associated with intense and frequent collisions of solid par-
Received 3 May 2017 ticles with each other and with the vessel wall, causing tribo-electrification. Accumulation of electrostatic
Received in revised form 29 June 2017 charges in fluidized bed reactors can result in severe problems such as agglomeration, wall fouling, nui-
Accepted 2 August 2017
sance and hazardous discharge, all reducing the process performance and raising significant safety con-
Available online 3 August 2017
cerns. Tribo-charging of particles in fluidized beds has also been exploited in a number of useful
applications. In this review, the characterization methods of electrostatics and the mechanisms of charge
generation and distribution in fluidized beds are presented, followed by an account of the interplay
between the hydrodynamics and electrostatic phenomena. Furthermore, techniques of electrostatic
Hydrodynamics charge control in fluidized beds are reviewed, and applications of tribo-electrostatic fluidization systems
Triboelectric charging are summarized. Finally, computational fluid dynamics simulations of the electrostatic effects on the
Application hydrodynamic characteristics of fluidized beds are outlined.
Simulation 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 304
2. Characterization of electrostatics in fluidized beds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 305
2.1. Direct methods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 305
2.1.1. Faraday cups . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 305
2.2. Indirect methods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 306
2.2.1. Electrostatic probes and sensors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 306
2.3. Particle trajectory tracking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 309
3. Charge generation and distribution in fluidized beds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 309
3.1. Charge generation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 309
3.2. Bipolar charging . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 310
3.3. Charge distribution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 311
4. Relationship between electrostatic phenomenon and hydrodynamics in fluidized beds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 313
4.1. Electrostatic force vs. other forces acting on fluidized particles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 313
4.2. Influence of fluidized bed hydrodynamics on electrostatics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 314
4.3. Influence of electrostatics on hydrodynamics of fluidized beds. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 316
5. Electrostatic charge control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 319

Corresponding authors.
E-mail addresses: (F. Fotovat), (X.T. Bi), (J.R. Grace).
0009-2509/ 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
304 F. Fotovat et al. / Chemical Engineering Science 173 (2017) 303334

6. Applications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 320
6.1. Powder coating . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 320
6.2. Solids separation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 320
6.2.1. Coal and fly ash beneficiation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 320
6.2.2. Separation of granular plastic waste . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 321
6.2.3. Protein enrichment in a tribo-electrification bio-separation process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 322
6.3. Modifying hydrodynamics of fluidized beds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 322
6.4. Enhancing fluidization of nanoparticles. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 322
6.5. Measuring fluidized bed hydrodynamics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 324
6.5.1. Measurement of particle mean velocity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 324
6.5.2. Measurement of bed level . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 325
7. Simulation including electrostatic charges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 325
8. Summary and recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 330
Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 330
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 330


Symbols z distance between tips of a dual-tip probe, m

Ap probe tip surface area, m2
d particle diameter, m Greek letters
D fluidized bed diameter, m ai fitted parameter in Eq. (5), kg/m
Db bubble size/diameter, m bi fitted parameter in Eq. (5), C s2/kg m2
dp particle diameter, m ci fitted parameter in Eq. (5), C/kg
Ed breakdown potential in air (3  106 V/m) Dt time lag between peaks from two tips, s
Fd drag force, kg m/s2 Ds time difference between maximum and minimum
Fe electrostatic force, kg m/s2 peaks from one tip, s
Fg gravity force, kg m/s2 e voidage, dimensionless
I total current, A e0 vacuum permittivity (8.854  1012 F/m)
q particle electrostatic charge, C qb fluidized bed density, kg/m3
qm charge density or specific charge on particles, C/kg qp particle density, kg/m3
t time, s
Ub bubble velocity, m/s
Ug superficial gas velocity, m/s 1 upper probe tip
Ujet jet velocity, m/s 2 lower probe tip
Umf minimum fluidization velocity, m/s
max maximum
Ut terminal settling velocity of particles, m/s min minimum
Ws entrainment flux of solid particles, kg/m2 s mf minimum fluidization
xi weight fraction of fine particles having di as average
diameter, dimensionless

1. Introduction (Lewis et al., 1949). Problems associated with fluidized bed electri-
fication include particle-wall adhesion, inter-particle cohesion and
Fluidization is associated with solid particles being transformed electrostatic discharges. The charged particles can coat vessel
into a fluid-like state by a flowing fluid. It arrived on the industrial walls, requiring frequent cleaning. The electrostatic charges on
scene in a major way in the early 1940s with Fluid Catalytic Crack- particles and vessel walls, as well as the high-voltage electrical
ing (FCC) (Jahnig et al., 1980) and has since been implemented in fields arising from them, can affect hydrodynamics and cause the
many other industrial applications, including solid-catalyzed gas- formation of undesired byproducts (Cheng et al., 2012a). They
phase reactions, non-catalytic reactions and physical processes. can also interfere with sensors and bed internals, leading to mal-
Advantageous features of gas-solid fluidized beds such as excellent function of measurement instruments and operation (Zhang
gas-solid contacting, efficient and uniform heat transfer, tempera- et al., 2013). For instance, when electrical capacitance tomography
ture uniformity, and suitability for processing a wide range of feed- (ECT) is applied in a particulate process, electrification can result in
stocks, have led to widespread industrial applications including measurement errors and even malfunction of some ECT systems
coal/biomass combustion/gasification/pyrolysis, drying, coating, (Gao et al., 2012; Zhang et al., 2014). Electrostatic charges are also
ore roasting, catalytic processes such as acrylonitrile, aniline and responsible for potentially severe problems in commercial gas-
Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, and gas-phase polyolefin production solid fluidized bed facilities due to agglomeration (Ciborowski
(Grace et al., 2006; Kunii and Levenspiel, 1991). and Wlodarski, 1962), sheeting (Hendrickson, 2006), shank (fusion
Electrostatic charging of particles in gas-solid fluidized beds of solid particles into solid shapes resulting from overheating par-
was first reported about 60 years ago in connection with anoma- ticles residing on the reactor wall in a reactive environment)
lous behavior encountered in experiments on subjects as diverse (Moughrabiah, 2009), nuisance discharges and product handling
as heat transfer (Miller and Logwinuk, 1951), elutriation (Osberg (Chen et al., 2003a, 2003b). All of the obstacles owing to electro-
and Charlesworth, 1951), and characteristics of fluidized particles statics, especially sheeting in fluidized bed polymerization reac-
F. Fotovat et al. / Chemical Engineering Science 173 (2017) 303334 305

tors, may cause serious operational problems and production particles and bubbles, an approach that has been extensively
losses (Hendrickson, 2006). Unintentional charge accumulation adopted in pneumatic transport pipelines to measure the velocity,
and resultant hazardous discharges can cause sparks, fires, and concentration and mass flow rate of solids (Gajewski, 2006; Ma
even explosions, affecting process performance and endangering and Yan, 2000; Masuda et al., 1994; Matsusaka and Masuda,
the operators (Jones et al., 1991; Nifuku and Katoh, 2003; 2006; Qian et al., 2012, 2014; Xu et al., 2010a; Yan, 1996; Yan
Ohsawa, 2003). On the other hand, since electrostatic forces can et al., 1995, 2006).
affect the motion of charged particles, the exploitation of electro- Particle charge-to-mass ratio, current or the electric potential
statics in fluidized beds can be beneficial in some industrial pro- induced by charged particles are commonly measured to quantify
cesses such as powder coating (Yang et al., 2016a), coal electrification phenomena in fluidized beds. The instruments
beneficiation (Zhao et al., 2014) and separation of solid wastes employed to measure these parameters are (1) Faraday cup, the
(Wu et al., 2013). In addition, useful information on the dynamic most common method to measure particle charge density (Bi,
characteristics of bubble and particles can be obtained by process- 2011); and (2) electrostatic sensors, including both contacting (or
ing electrostatic signals acquired from different locations in flu- collision) probes and induction sensors. Contacting probes, in the
idized beds (He et al., 2016a). form of a ball, hemisphere or rod, are inserted into the bed to mea-
In granular flow systems including fluidized beds, tribo- sure charge, current or voltage signals arising from a combination
electrification is inevitable due to the motion of particles which of charges transferred between particles and the probe and those
results in continuous particle-particle, particle-wall, and particle- induced by particles. In spite of the intrusiveness of these probes,
fluid interactions, friction and rolling (Alsmari, 2014; Mehrani they have been applied more commonly than induction sensors
et al., 2007a). The net change in particle charge level in a gas- in gas-solid fluidized beds (Sun and Yan, 2016). The wide applica-
solids fluidized bed or transport line results from the balance of tion of the contacting probes reflects their usefulness in determin-
charge generation and dissipation occurring simultaneously (Bi, ing local charges and their spatial distributions (Chen et al., 2003a,
2005). Electrostatics in gas fluidized beds is complex across multi- 2003b; Chen et al., 2006b), particle charge density (Chen et al.,
ple scales, affected by many factors influencing electrostatic charge 2003a, 2003b; He et al., 2015a), and even bubble characteristics
generation, accumulation, transfer and dissipation, e.g. roughness (He et al., 2014, 2015a, 2015b).
and condition of surfaces, particle properties, relative velocity of
particles, fluid physical properties and operating variables such 2.1. Direct methods
as pressure and temperature (Moughrabiah, 2009). Electrostatic
phenomena in gas-solids fluidized beds are further complicated 2.1.1. Faraday cups
by the heterogeneous flow structure due to the presence of gas The sign and density of charges on particles provide crucial
bubbles and particle clusters, so that charged particle beds cannot information on the degree of particle charging and the magnitude
be treated as homogeneous media (Jalalinejad, 2013). Accordingly, of electrostatic forces acting on individual particles. Charged parti-
the heterogeneous flow structure at the bubble scale must be con- cles in fluidized beds can be removed by a sampling tube or a scoo-
sidered in order to understand the electrostatic forces and fields per, then poured into a Faraday cage, as illustrated in Fig. 1. Such
associated with charged particles. Moreover, the charge on parti- simple sampling methods have been applied to directly measure
cles may be non-uniformly distributed, making the estimation of the particle charge density in the dense bed (Ali et al., 1999;
the electrostatic charges and process control more difficult Fujino et al., 1985; Tardos and Pfeffer, 1980; Zhao et al., 2003)
(Matsusaka et al., 2010). As a result of the incentive to mitigate and freeboard (Alsmari, 2014; Alsmari et al., 2015a, 2015b; Fasso
the negative impacts of electrostatic in fluidized bed reactors and et al., 1982; Fotovat et al., 2016a, 2016c, 2016d) regions of bub-
to exploit it effectively in developing useful physical processes, bling/slugging fluidized beds and circulating fluidized bed (CFB)
there has been a reawakening of interest in this topic in recent risers (Jiang et al., 1997; Tucholski and Colver, 1998). These meth-
years (Fotovat et al., submitted for publication). ods can be localized by sampling from different locations of the flu-
In 2006, Hendrickson (2006) reviewed electrostatics phenom- idized bed (Ali et al., 1999; Salama et al., 2013; Song et al., 2016;
ena in gas phase polymerization fluidized bed reactors with a focus Song and Mehrani, 2017; Sowinski et al., 2012, 2011, 2010;
on commercial issues and mitigation techniques. Powder charging Zhang et al., 2016).
mechanisms were reviewed by Matsusaka et al. (2010) in 2010. Since wide particle size distributions are commonly encoun-
Mehrani et al. (2017) have recently reviewed advances in under- tered in fluidized beds, it is important to be able to distinguish dif-
standing charge buildup in gas-solid fluidized beds. To capture ferential charging of particles of different sizes. To determine the
the significant progress in understanding the electrostatic phe- charge density on particles of different sizes sampled from flu-
nomena in fluidized beds, this paper reviews recent advances in idized beds, multi-compartment Faraday cup systems may be used
measurement techniques of electrostatics in fluidized beds. The which separate particles of different charge densities into several
interplay between electrostatics and hydrodynamics in fluidized Faraday cups, arranged horizontally (Sharmene Ali et al., 1998) or
beds is then outlined by focusing on the underlying mechanisms vertically (Zhao et al., 2003), as shown in Fig. 2, based on the prin-
and associated phenomena. Applications, mitigation techniques ciple that charged particles of the same polarity repulse each other
and computational simulations of electrostatics in fluidized beds while falling.
are summarized next. Finally, we provide a brief outlook on future Faraday cups have mostly been used offline, measuring the
challenges and required research in this area. charge density of particles withdrawn from different locations of
the fluidized bed. The charge density of particles is then obtained
by dividing the charge by the mass of particles which have entered
2. Characterization of electrostatics in fluidized beds the Faraday cup. Despite the simplicity of Faraday cups, charge
generation or dissipation during particle sampling may reduce
In view of the serious technical issues caused by electrostatic the measurement accuracy. To avoid this drawback, Faraday cups
charges in industrial fluidized beds, quantification of electrostatic equipped with a filter can be used to capture airborne particles
charges is essential for monitoring and control. Moreover, based and measure their charge densities in the freeboard of a fluidized
on the interplay between the hydrodynamic and electrostatic phe- bed or in gas-solid pipe flows (Alsmari, 2014; Fotovat et al.,
nomena in fluidized beds, measurements and analysis of electro- 2016c). Also, to minimize the additional electric charging of bed
static charges are helpful when characterizing the motion of components, entrained and bed material particles can be dis-
306 F. Fotovat et al. / Chemical Engineering Science 173 (2017) 303334

Powder in

Fluidized Bed
Grounded Cup
Faraday Cup


++ + + +
+ ++ + +

Insulation Electrometer
Faraday Cup

Fig. 1. Schematic showing Faraday cup charge density measurement system.

b) Fluidized bed

Metal sampling tube


Vertical array of
Faraday cup sensors 5


Fig. 2. (a) Horizontal and (b) vertical multi-compartment Faraday cups (Sharmene Ali et al., 1998; Zhao et al., 2003).

charged into two separate Faraday cups, one at the top and the electromagnetic noise. However, this approach is unable to provide
other at the bottom of the bed (Salama et al., 2013; Song and information on the charge distribution of bed particles, since it
Mehrani, 2017; Sowinski et al., 2012). Also, to minimize the addi- only measures total net charges in the bed.
tional electric charging of bed components, entrained particles can
be directly collected into Faraday cups at the top of the bed to mea- 2.2. Indirect methods
sure the charge density, while the charge density of the bed mate-
rial is determined by dropping the bed particles into a Faraday cup 2.2.1. Electrostatic probes and sensors
located underneath the gas distributor, immediately after the flow Electrostatic charge buildup inside fluidized beds has been
of fluidizing gas is terminated (Fig. 3a) (Sowinski et al., 2009, 2010, measured by electrostatic probes of three major types: capacitance
2012). By placing a charge separator and a horizontal array Faraday probes, induction probes and collision probes. Unlike the Faraday
cup system below the fluidized bed, the charge distribution of cup, which is a static measurement tool, probe signals contain
dropped particles can also be determined (Salama et al., 2013; dynamic information on particle charging and hydrodynamics
Song and Mehrani, 2017) (Fig. 3b). inside the bed. The output of an electrostatic probe is in the form
A novel in-situ Faraday cup fluidized bed method was developed of an induced charge signal (Chen et al., 2007, 2006b), current sig-
by Mehrani (2005) and Mehrani et al. (2005, 2007b) to measure the nal (Dong et al., 2015b) or voltage signal (Coombes and Yan, 2015;
charge density of entrained fine powders from an electrically iso- Zhang et al., 2015), from which the charge level and charge distri-
lated copper fluidization column, which serves as a Faraday cup. bution in a gassolid fluidized bed are obtained.
As shown in Fig. 4, when charged fine particles are elutriated from When particles in the fluidized bed are charged, whether or not
the fluidized bed, an equal but opposite charge is registered by the the reactor wall is grounded, an electrical field is created. By plac-
electrometer connected to the isolated copper fluidization column. ing a metal probe connected to an electrometer inside the fluidized
To monitor the change of charge density of entrained fine powders bed, a potential relative to a grounded reference surface (reactor
with time, the entrained particles are captured by a bag filter and wall, metal distributor or another metal probe) will be registered
weighed by a sensitive balance so that the transient charge density by the electrometer. The magnitude of the potential relative to a
of the entrained fines can be obtained (Omar et al., 2010). Unlike grounded metal wall or distributor generally increases with time,
conventional Faraday cups, this fluidized bed Faraday cup is not finally reaching a steady state value. The final potential is then
susceptible to strong interferences of the flow field, generation of believed to reflect the degree of electrification of fluidized particles
extra charges or discharging while handling particles, or variations at steady state when equilibrium between charging and discharg-
in environmental factors, such as atmospheric air humidity and ing is reached. In this technique, the metal probe and the grounded
F. Fotovat et al. / Chemical Engineering Science 173 (2017) 303334 307

a) Top Faraday cup

Top Faraday cup

Charge separator

Bottom Faraday cup

Fig. 3. Schematic of (a) a fluidization column equipped with bottom and top Faraday cups; (b) electrostatic charge separator placed below the fluidized bed (()). adapted from
Salama et al., 2013

Fig. 4. Schematic of an in-situ Faraday cup fluidized bed (Mehrani et al., 2005).
308 F. Fotovat et al. / Chemical Engineering Science 173 (2017) 303334

reference probe are considered to act like plates of a capacitor, 2002) that the probability density distributions of local pressure
while the section of the bed located between the probes acts as a drop and electrostatic voltage are similar, and that the amplitudes
capacitor dielectric medium over which the average charges are of voltage signals from a ball probe are mainly induced by passing
obtained (Bi, 2011). bubbles. Moreover, the power spectra of the pressure drop and the
The other type of electrostatic probe, most commonly used to cumulative electrostatic charge signals show a characteristic fre-
measure electrostatics in industry, is the collision type current quency of about 1 Hz at relatively high superficial gas velocities,
probe, or so-called ball probe. The collision probe is installed in indicating that the periodicity of both signals is dominated by large
the fluidized bed and connected to a resistor, with the current bubbles near the bed surface (Liu et al., 2010). For a single bubble
measured by an electrometer (Fig. 5). These probes receive both passing a current probe in a two-dimensional fluidized bed, Park
charges transferred from particles colliding with the probe surface et al. (2002b) and Chen et al. (2003a, 2003b) developed a combined
and charges induced when particles pass the probe (Tardos and charge transfer and induction model to interpret transient current
Pfeffer, 1980). Park et al. (2002b) and Chen et al. (2003a, 2003b) signals. The change in net current is related to the charge transfer
mounted collision ball probes to measure charges induced and from particle-probe collisions, while the fluctuations are induced
transferred by particles surrounding rising bubbles in a two- by passing bubbles. Chen et al. (2007) further demonstrated that
dimensional fluidized bed. Moughrabiah (2009) and Liu et al. the charge density of the particles in the dense phase surrounding
(2010) also measured the axial distribution of electrostatic current the bubble could be obtained by fitting a single bubble model to
from a number of ball probes located both at the axis and near the the measured current signals for given particle electrical properties
wall of a fluidized bed containing polyethylene powders. based on the assumption of a uniformly charged dense phase.
To eliminate probe interference with the motion of particles These findings suggest that it may be possible to estimate local
and gas in the bed and charge transfer due to collisions between particle charge-to-mass ratios from electrical current and local voi-
particles and the probe, shielded induction probes have also been dage and/or pressure signals. By developing a novel dual-tip elec-
deployed to characterize the electrification of fluidized beds trostatic probe, He (2015) exploited this potential to
(Demirbas et al., 2008). Induction sensors with disc-, ring-, arc- simultaneously measure the in-situ charge density of particles
or stud-shape electrodes are also used to measure electrostatics and the size and rise velocity of bubbles in a bubbling fluidized
in multiphase systems (Sun and Yan, 2016). Non-contacting induc- bed. As shown in Fig. 6a and b, this novel dual-tip probe consists
tion sensors are independent of net charge accumulation, such as of two tips separated vertically by a known distance, Dz. The work-
with contacting probes, and have the advantage of not disturbing ing principle of this probe is that when a bubble passes the probe,
the flow since they are not directly exposed to the fluidized mate- each tip registers a current signal, with maximum and minimum
rial. Furthermore, compared to contacting probes, it is easier to peaks corresponding to arrival of the bubble nose and wake,
reconstruct the charge distribution from the signals generated by respectively. The time lag between the peaks from the two tips,
non-contacting sensors, since the influence of contact charging Dt, can then be used to estimate the bubble rise velocity, Ub. The
can be reasonably ignored (Sun and Yan, 2016). However, they bubble size, Db, represented by the vertical pierced length, can be
are unsuitable for obtaining local information on non- obtained from the time difference Ds between the times corre-
homogenous flow systems since particle-wall interactions, rather sponding to arrival of the bubble nose and wake from the signals
than particle-particle interactions, dominate the signal output. of either tip.
In the case of contacting probes, the properties of the particles
and probe tip, e.g., work function, dielectric constant, electrical Ub 1
conductivity, particle density and size distribution, probe tip size
and shape, affect current signals (He et al., 2016b). For a given com- Db U b Ds 2
bination of a probe and a bed material, the average magnitude of
electrical current from collision probes depends not only on the The time lag, Dt, can be obtained either from the cross-
charge density of particles colliding with the probe, but also on correlation of the current signals registered by each tip, or from
the particle velocity and collision frequency, because charge trans- the time difference between maximum and minimum peak corre-
fer from charged particles to the probe is a function of the relative sponding times (tmax,1, tmin,1, tmax,2, tmin,2) from the upper and lower
velocity or contact time of the contacting surfaces (Matsusaka tips as demonstrated in Fig. 6c.
et al., 2010). Since bubbles are known to be mainly responsible tmax;1  tmax;2 tmin;1  t min;2
for particle motion and therefore collision with the ball probe in Dt 3
bubbling fluidized beds (Tiyapiboonchaiya et al., 2012), some
attempts have been made to decouple hydrodynamic contributions t min;1  tmax;1 tmin;2  tmax;2
from the probe current so as to extract the particle charge density Ds 4
from ball probe current signals. It has been observed (Yao et al.,
The total current measured by the probe arises from a combina-
tion of current transferred from charged particles to the probe tip
and the current induced by charged particles. The transferred cur-
Brass tube rent can be related to charge density and particle velocity (He et al.,
Alumel wire lead
2014), while the induced current is correlated with the bubble rise
Stainless steel ball 6.7 mm O.D. to electrometer
velocity and particle charge density (Chen et al., 2003a, 2003b).
3.2 mm dia.
Accordingly, He et al. (2015a) proposed an equation of the form

Ipeak;i ai qm U b qp 1  emf U b Ap bi U 2b ci 5

to represent the current peaks from either of the probe tips, where
qm, emf and Ap are the particle charge density, voidage at minimum
Glass sleeve fluidization and probe tip surface area, respectively. ai, bi and ci are
5.8 mm O.D. fitted constants obtained by calibrating the probe, related to the
properties of the probe materials and particles, such as the dielec-
Fig. 5. Collision ball probe (()). adapted from Park et al., 2002b tric constant of particles, work function difference between the
F. Fotovat et al. / Chemical Engineering Science 173 (2017) 303334 309

Fig. 6. (a) Schematic of dual-tip electrostatic probe developed by He et al. (2015a, 2015b). (b) Configuration of probe tips inserted into a fluidization column. (c) Principle of
probe to determine bubble rise velocity and size (He et al., 2015a).

probe tip material and the bed particles, probe tip size and particle affected by the interference of the electric field imposed by the
size and shape (He et al., 2016b). Calibration was achieved by charged column walls and the bed particles, unless the space
injecting bubbles into a two-dimensional fluidized bed. Synchro- between the parallel plates is well isolated (Bi, 2011).
nization experiments were performed with different particle charge
densities and bubble rise velocities. The charge density (qm) was 3. Charge generation and distribution in fluidized beds
varied by changing the superficial gas velocity (Ug), and measured
by discharging particles into a Faraday cup. Single bubbles passing 3.1. Charge generation
a dual-material probe in vertical alignment were selected from
recorded videos to obtain the bubble rise velocity (Ub), and corre- By its very nature, fluidization is associated with continuous
sponding current peaks (Ipeak) were selected from the synchronized solid-solid contact and separation, as well as friction, as particles
probe signals. Eq. (5) was then fitted to measured data for bubbles rub against each other and against the wall. These circumstances
passing the probe from both single bubble injection and freely bub- lead to electrostatics through triboelectric charging, or tribo-
bling experiments. This method seems practical for calibration of electrification, which is the process of charge transfer between
the novel probe for use in commercial-scale fluidized beds. two materials that are brought into contact and then separated.
Eq. (5), representing the total current when the bubble nose or Triboelectric charging is a non-equilibrium process. However,
wake reaches the probe, relates the current peak values (Ipeak) to when charged surfaces are close to one other, a charged state
in-bed particle charge density and bubble rise velocity. Once the may represent a quasi-equilibrium, as the Columbic attraction
bubble rise velocity has been determined from Eq. (1), the particle between the oppositely charged surfaces stabilizes the charged
charge density can be estimated by inserting the bubble rise veloc- system (Lacks and Sankaran, 2016).
ity into Eq. (5). As shown in Fig. 7, the charge density obtained indi- Triboelectric charging can be caused by electron transfer, ion
rectly from this novel dual probe gave reasonable agreement with transfer, and material transfer (Lacks and Sankaran, 2011;
those measured directly by a Faraday cup (He et al., 2015b). Matsusaka et al., 2010). Once electrons are responsible for charge
transfer, tribo-electrification between dissimilar materials is char-
2.3. Particle trajectory tracking acterized by the surface work function, defined as the work/energy
needed to pull an electron away from the surface of a material. In
The particle trajectory method is a non-contact measurement general, metals have lower work functions than non-metals, so it is
method by which two parallel metal plates are installed in the easier for them to lose electrons when in contact with other mate-
freeboard region of a transparent fluidized bed (Wolny and rials. The work function is also closely correlated with the dielec-
Kazmierczak, 1989). When single particles are ejected into the tric constant of the material, being higher for materials with
space between the parallel plates by a single gas nozzle located higher dielectric constants. When two dissimilar materials are in
inside the dense bed immediately underneath the parallel plates, contact, electrons flow from the surface of lower work function
the trajectory of the single particles can be captured by a high- to that of a higher work function. Thus, in contact with a neutral
speed video camera, enabling the charge density of individual par- metal surface, a neutral dielectric particle will extract electrons
ticles to be determined by analyzing the trajectory of the particles from the metal surface. Upon separation, the dielectric particle
subject to the electrical field. The accuracy of this method is then becomes negatively charged. When a charged particle con-
310 F. Fotovat et al. / Chemical Engineering Science 173 (2017) 303334

Fig. 7. Decoupled charge densities from dual-tip probe and Faraday cup in 0.3 m diameter fluidized bed column with polyethylene particles. (a) Steady state operation; (b)
time-on-stream monitoring with stepwise velocity changes (He et al., 2015b).

tacts a metal surface, however, the net charge exchange depends large and small particles, is known as bipolar charging. Three
on the pre-charge level (Matsuyama et al., 2003; Watanabe et al., mechanisms have been proposed to explain triboelectric charging
2006), collision speed (Watanabe et al., 2006), collision angle of systems composed of particles of identical material. The first is
(Ema et al., 2003), distribution of charge on the particle surface the particle-size dependence of the work function, which can
(Matsuyama et al., 2003), and time interval between impacts result in transfer of charge species (electrons and ions) from larger
(Matsusaka et al., 2000). Matsusaka et al. (2010) thoroughly particles (with smaller work function) to smaller particles (with
reviewed the extensive work carried out on the effect of particle larger work function) (Gallo and Lama, 1976). However, the influ-
pre-charge level, surface pre-charge level, collision angle and colli- ence of particle size on the work function is negligible for particles
sion speed on the degree of charge transfer and separation. As larger than 1 mm. (The size correction to the work function for a
depicted in Fig. 8, charge transfer occurs when two surfaces that 1 mm sphere would be 5  104 eV, compared with the typical
come into contact with each other acquire charges of similar polar- magnitude of the work function (5 eV) (Lacks and Sankaran,
ity after contact. In charge transfer contact between a charged par- 2011)). A second mechanism proposed to explain particle tri-
ticle and a neutral surface, or vice versa, results in charge being bocharging of identical materials is that the material surfaces of
transferred to the neutral body (Ireland, 2010). Charge separation particles of a single material are not truly identical since there is
occurs when the charge polarities of contacting surfaces differ after a statistical distribution of the properties of materials around the
contact (Fig. 9). In charge separation contact between a neutral mean values. These statistical variations can significantly affect
particle and a neutral surface results in each acquiring an equal charge transfer since only a very small number of charged species
charge, but with opposite polarities. Charge separation can explain are required to bring about an electrostatically charged surface, e.g.
the opposite polarity of fine and coarse particles of the same mate- a very highly charged surface has only approximately one excess
rial when they come into contact, known as bipolar charging species per 105 surface atoms (Lacks and Sankaran, 2016)). The
(Mehrani et al., 2007a). This phenomenon is discussed further in number of charge donor states on two surfaces of identical materi-
Section 3.2. als may differ due to statistical variations, with a width of variation
The dynamics of electrostatic charges in fluidized beds are com- proportional to square root of the surface area (Apodaca et al.,
plex and depend on several parameters, including the particle 2010). This difference can lead to net transfer of charged species
material and size distribution, column wall material and diameter, from the surface with a larger number of donor states to that with
fluidization time, fluidizing gas velocity, relative humidity, pres- a smaller number of donor states.
sure and temperature, among others (Salama et al., 2013). In the presence of an external electric field surfaces of identical
materials can be polarized leading to the breakage of the symmetry
3.2. Bipolar charging between the surfaces and consequently to bipolar charging of sur-
faces contact with each other. As discussed in Section 4.2, the inter-
As noted above, contact charging between particles of the same play between hydrodynamics and electrostatics in gas-solid
material, but different sizes, leading to opposite charge polarity of fluidized beds results in an electrical potential distribution along

a) b) c)
Surface Surface Surface
P (neutral particle) + P (neutral particle)
- P (neutral particle)
+ -
+ -
P - (Charge Transfer)
P (Charge Transfer)
P + (Charge Transfer) -
Fig. 8. Charging transfer between particles and a surface with (a) zero initial charge, (b) positive initial charge, (c) negative initial charge.
F. Fotovat et al. / Chemical Engineering Science 173 (2017) 303334 311

a) b) c)
Surface Surface Surface
P (neutral particle) + P (neutral particle) - P (neutral particle)
+ -
+ -
P + (Charge Separation) P - (Charge Separation) P +(Charge Separation)
+ -
P - (Charge Separation)

Fig. 9. Charge separation between particles and a surface with (a) zero initial charge, (b) positive initial charge, (c) negative initial charge.

the bed, which results in tribocharging of particles of identical level and polarity on the relative humidity of the fluidizing gas.
materials in fluidized beds. Fine Larostat 519 powder (an antistatic compound) was negatively
Asymmetric contact is another mechanism proposed by Lowell charged in dry nitrogen, but positively at 60% relative humidity.
and Truscott (1986a) to explain triboelectric charging between sur- Sign reversal was also observed for fine catalyst powder and
faces of identical materials. This theory is based on the existence of silver-coated glass beads.
charge transfer species on the contacting surfaces that are out-of- Bipolar charging is responsible for most electrostatic-related
equilibrium, i.e., trapped in high-energy states. Assuming an equal phenomena in fluidized beds such as particle agglomeration
density of species trapped in high-energy states for contacting sur- (Taillet, 1993) and wall fouling (Salama et al., 2013). Trapping cat-
faces, contact between two surfaces leads to equilibration, with alyst particles in electrostatic-induced agglomerates can be benefi-
species in high-energy states on one surface relaxing to low- cial. However, the lower heat transfer rate from agglomerates can
energy states on the other surface. According to Lowell and be detrimental since the particle temperature may exceed the sin-
Truscott (1986a, 1986b), in the case of contact between two sur- tering temperature of the bed materials, resulting in defluidization
faces with unequal surface areas, the surface contacted over a lar- (Hendrickson, 2006; Wei and Gu, 2015). The identification and
ger area will lose charge species, while that contacted over a confirmation of bipolar charging changed the perception of a uni-
smaller area gains species. Lacks and Levandovsky (2007) extended formly charged fluidized bed of particles of singular polarity, thus
the Lowell and Truscott theory to polydisperse granular systems by opening the door to examine charge distributions in fluidized beds.
attributing bipolar charging of identical material particles to
particle-size differences. Their model shows that the collision of 3.3. Charge distribution
particles of different sizes leads to the accumulation of charged
species on the smaller particles in the system and a depletion of Fluidized beds are non-uniform in terms of the electrostatic
charged species on the larger particles (Lacks et al., 2008). field strength and polarity of particles. The highest electrical poten-
Bipolar charging is often used in a general sense once particles tial may occur at the bottom (grid zone) (Buzanov et al., 1978) or at
with opposite polarities exist in a system, whether or not the sys- the top (near the bed surface) (Servais and Bernot, 2000), depend-
tem contains chemically identical particles. It has been found that ing the charge density distribution of the fluidized particles. The
roughness or asperities in the range of 0.011cmm (Baytekin et al., polarity of the electrostatic voltage may also change from the bot-
2011) on the surface of particles give rise to uneven surface ener- tom to the top of the bed (Fujino et al., 1985; Goode et al., 2000), if
gies at different locations on the surface of a single particle that can there is axial segregation of positively and negatively charged par-
result in different polarities upon contact (Cross, 1987). ticles. The grid zone and upper part of the fluidized bed are likely
Most studies on electrostatic charging of fluidized beds before the regions of maximum charge generation (associated with
the 1990s assumed a single polarity of bed materials, although high-speed gas jets and rubbing of particles on the distributor
bipolar charging had been identified as early as 1950 (Kunkel, plate) and dissipation (associated with eruption of large bubbles
1950; Turner and Balasubramanian, 1976). The first direct evi- at the bed surface), respectively (Buzanov et al., 1978;
dence of bipolar charging in fluidized beds was provided by Ciborowski and Wlodarski, 1962; Gajewski, 1985). The variation
Wolny and Kazmierczak (1989) who measured the charge density of the polarity of the charged particles has been supported by the
of individual particles using a particle trajectory tracking technique measured opposite polarities of the particles in the dense bed
installed in the freeboard of the fluidized bed. They reported a and the entrained fine particles (Ali et al., 1999) and varying polar-
probability distribution of charge density, revealing both nega- ity of wall deposits in the dense bed region and above the bed sur-
tively and positively charged particles. Bipolar charging of the fine face (Salama et al., 2013; Sowinski et al., 2009, 2010). In the radial
and coarse fluidized particles in binary systems has been identified direction, the electrical field is strongest near the wall and zero at
in a number of studies. However, there is no consensus on the rela- the axis of the vessel (Fang et al., 2008; Fujino et al., 1985; Fulks
tionship between polarity and the size of particles. While some et al., 1985), which is expected even if the particles in the bed
researchers have identified negatively charged fines and positively are uniformly charged and distributed, not necessarily caused by
charged coarse particles (Forward et al., 2009; Mehrani et al., the radial non-uniform distributions of local void fraction or parti-
2007b; Omar et al., 2010; Sharmene Ali et al., 1998; Zhao et al., cle charge density, as speculated by Fang et al. (2008).
2003), others have observed the opposite (Alsmari, 2014; Alsmari Gajewski (1985) measured the axial profiles of the average elec-
et al., 2015b; Fotovat et al., 2017b, 2016c). A plausible reason for trostatic current from multiple isolated copper rings embedded
this discrepancy could be the contribution of particle-wall contacts inside a glass fluidized bed with polypropylene powders as the
to the reported charge and polarity of the particles tested in flu- bed material. Tiyapiboonchaiya et al. (2012) found positive current
idization vessels of different construction materials and dimen- in the bottom dense bed region, and negative current in the upper
sions. In addition to type and size distribution of fluidized bed and freeboard region, i.e. reversal of current flow in the sys-
particles, relative humidity has also been shown to influence the tem. Moughrabiah et al. (2009) and Liu et al. (2010) measured
polarity of particles. In the experiments conducted by Mehrani the axial distribution of electrostatic current from eight ball probes
et al. (2007b), addition of different proportions of fines to the poly- located at both the axis and near the wall of a fluidized bed of poly-
ethylene powder bed showed a strong dependence of the charge ethylene powders. The average currents from those probes were
312 F. Fotovat et al. / Chemical Engineering Science 173 (2017) 303334

always negative in the lower dense bed region, and positive in the powders deposited on the column wall so that the charge density
upper and the freeboard region, confirming the polarity reversal and particle size distribution could be determined. Sowinski et al.
with increasing height in the bed. (2010) observed bipolar charging with entrained fines being
Rojo et al. (1986), Servais and Bernot (2000), and Fang et al. mainly positively charged, whereas the bed particles and those
(2008) measured the axial distribution of electrical potential based attached to the column wall carried net negative charges. In their
on potential probes immersed in the fluidized bed. Fang et al. experiments the smallest particles were positively charged and
(2008) showed that regardless of the static bed height and particle entrained from the column. A small fraction of these particles
size distribution, negative potentials were present in the lower adhered to the column wall above the dense bed. Thus, the polarity
dense bed region, and positive potentials in the upper bed and of the wall deposit above the dense bed was positive. In the dense
freeboard region. According to Fang et al. (2008) the polarities at bed, the smaller bed particles adhered to the wall followed by the
the top and bottom of the bed are largely determined by the net larger bed particles. Moreover, overlap of the particle size distribu-
charges on small and large particles, respectively. As illustrated tion of the wall particles and fines with positive charge implied
in Fig. 10, in a bed of linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) par- that there was, to an extent, some fines trapped within the wall
ticles fluidized at 0.6 m/s, the polarities in the dense and dilute particles. Overall, the polarity of wall particles in the dense bed
phases are opposite, and, as expected, the magnitude of the elec- was negative. Despite an overlap, the size distributions of wall par-
trostatic potential at the same height increases with increasing ticles differed below and above the bed surface, likely explaining
radial distance from the center of the bed (Fang et al., 2008). their different polarities. Again there was a clean wall region
Ali et al. (1999) studied the charge distribution in fluidized beds between the dense bed and freeboard regions. These results are
of polymer powders, with samples removed from different loca- in general consistent with those of Ali et al. (1999), although the
tions of the fluidized bed by a scooper and poured into a Faraday deposits in different regions were not examined in the latter case.
cup. Their results showed that the charge density inside the bed As indicated by Sowinski et al. (2010), the polarity of fine parti-
was quite uniform, except in the near-wall region where some fine cles in their work differed from those fluidized by Ali et al. (1999).
powders deposited onto the walls. The mean size and the charge The polarity of charged particles in fluidized beds depends not only
density of the wall deposit were also analyzed. It was found that on particle size, but also on the particle and column wall materials,
wall deposits were positively charged in the dense bed region, with as well as the operating conditions such as relative humidity. Ali
the charge density increasing with increasing height above the dis- et al. (1999) fluidized polyamide particles smaller than 150 mm in
tributor. Above the bed surface, however, the deposit polarity was a steel vessel with a rectangular cross section. Sowinski et al.
negative. In the region where the charge density passed through (2010) fluidized polyethylene particles with a particle size distri-
zero, there was no deposit on the wall. The maximum charge den- bution ranging from 20 to 1500 mm in a 0.10 m diameter carbon
sity of the deposit corresponded to the maximum field potential for steel column. While the former group used air with 610% RH (rel-
a uniformly charged bed. Ali et al. (1999) noted that wall deposit ative humidity), the latter used dry air. These differences are likely
particles below and above the dense bed differed in mean volume responsible for different polarities of wall deposit particles
size and charge polarity. They supposed that the wall deposit par- observed in these two studies, and further investigation is still
ticles above the dense bed were originally positively charged, but warranted.
became negatively charged due to the electric field induced by flu- Salama et al. (2013) utilized an electrostatic charge separator
idized charged particles. However, they indicated that this was not below the fluidized bed to measure the charge distribution of
the case for wall-deposit particles in the dense bed since these par- bed material (dropped through the distributor) and wall particles.
ticles were continually bombarded or replaced by other particles in The dominance of negative charge in the wall region was shown to
the positively charged dense bed, leading to the maintenance of result from a small number of highly negatively charged particles,
their positive net charge. tribo-charged by contact with the carbon steel column wall. Giffin
Sowinski et al. (2009, 2010, 2012) carried out similar tests on and Mehrani (2010) showed that the charge density (charge-to-
polyethylene particles with a wide particle size range in a fluidized mass ratio) of wall particles was two orders of magnitude larger
bed equipped with two separate Faraday cups described in Sec- than that of dropped particles. As shown in Fig. 11, these highly
tion 2.1.1 (Fig. 3a). They visually inspected and sampled the fine charged particles adhered strongly to the positively charged wall

Fig. 10. Distribution of (a) electrostatic potential and (b) equipotential lines in a bed of LLDPE particles fluidized at 0.6 m/s (Fang et al., 2008).
F. Fotovat et al. / Chemical Engineering Science 173 (2017) 303334 313

Image force Electrostatic force

Fig. 11. Schematic of wall coating formation mechanism in a fluidized bed of polyethylene particles (Song and Mehrani, 2017).

due to the image force and attracted positively charged polyethy- case of fluidization with negligible entrainment in a grounded con-
lene particles due to the electrostatic force. Layerwise formation ductive column, the net specific charge generated within the bed
of wall fouling with positive net specific charge was observed by has been attributed to contacts between fluidizing particles and
Song et al. (2016) and Song and Mehrani (2017), who fluidized the column wall because the net charge from bipolar charging
polyethylene particles at various operating pressures, ranging from due to particle-particle contacts would be zero (Song and
atmospheric to 2600 kPa, with the latter being similar to the oper- Mehrani, 2017).
ating pressure of a commercial gas-phase polyethylene process.
Generation of electrostatic charges in the bottom of the bed 4.1. Electrostatic force vs. other forces acting on fluidized particles
where high-velocity gas jets impinge into the dense bed before
bubbles form and charge dissipation at the bed surface where bub- The motion of particles in fluidized beds results from a balance
bles burst and eject particles into the freeboard at high speed, bipo- between gravitational force, drag and inter-particle forces such as
lar charging of segregating coarse and fine particles, and the electrostatic and van der Waals forces exerted on the particles.
possibility of charge transfer to or from the vessel wall are among Assessment of the relative magnitude of the electrostatic forces
the factors which contribute to the axial and radial charge distribu- with respect to other forces is therefore crucial to determine the
tion in fluidized beds (Fang et al., 2008; Hendrickson, 2006; contribution of electrostatics to the motion of particles in fluidized
Tiyapiboonchaiya et al., 2012). The size distribution of fluidized beds. Hendrickson (2006) provided a detailed comparison of the
particles and the fraction of a certain particle size can also affect electrostatic forces with drag force and van der Waals force in flu-
the electrostatic charging behavior of the system (Tian and idized beds containing polymer particles. Due to highly non-
Mehrani, 2015). There is some evidence (Krauss et al., 2003; uniform distributions of particle charges and resulting electric field
Zheng et al., 2003) that polydispersity of particle sizes enhances in fluidized beds, it is difficult, if not impossible, to reliably esti-
charge transfer and electric field intensities of charged particles, mate the electrostatic forces exerted on a particle in a fluidized
presumably due to greater degree of particle charging (Lacks and bed. Instead, the maximum electrostatic force, linked to the maxi-
Sankaran, 2011). Addition of antistatic agents has been shown to mum particle charge that can accumulate before ionization (break-
be able to completely change the axial and radial charge distribu- down) of the surrounding fluid, is generally calculated and used as
tion profiles in fluidized beds (Goode et al., 2000; Servais and a reference point to compare the electrostatic forces with the other
Bernot, 2000). forces. However, in practice, charge densities of particles are signif-
icantly less than the maximum theoretical values (Chen et al.,
2003a; Hendrickson, 2006) due to the influence of experimental
4. Relationship between electrostatic phenomenon and
conditions, e.g., relative humidity, or the measurement techniques
hydrodynamics in fluidized beds
(Hendrickson, 2006). Among the three methods developed to esti-
mate the theoretical maximum particle charge based on Gauss
Continual collision of particles with each other or with the ves-
law, Hendrickson (2006) showed that the method developed by
sel wall is known to be the main mechanism of tribo-electrification
Revel et al. (2003) gives a more reasonable result. Revel et al.
in fluidized beds. At the same time, electrostatic forces generated
(2003) applied the Gauss law to a cylindrical-shaped fluidized
by charged particles can influence the hydrodynamic behavior of
bed to obtain the maximum theoretical particle charge, |q|max, at
fluidized beds and other granular systems. Understanding the
the condition of incipient breakdown in air:
interplay between electrostatics and hydrodynamics is vitally
important to optimize the operation and performance of fluidized 2pe0 dp Ed
3 3
beds experiencing tribo-electrification. jqjmax 5:56  105 6
3 1  eD 1  eD
In bubbling fluidized beds, particle-gas contacting has negligi-
ble effect on tribo-charging of particles (Mehrani et al., 2005). By where e0, dp, Ed, e, and D are permittivity of free space
exploring the charge distribution around a single bubble rising in (8.854  1012 F/m), particle diameter, breakdown potential in air
a two-dimensional fluidized bed based on a number of induction (3  106 V/m), fluidized bed void fraction, and fluidized bed diame-
probes, Chen et al. (2006a, 2006b) showed that the wakes of bub- ter, respectively. Since the electrostatic force acting on a particle of
bles could be more negatively charged than the remainder of the charge q in an electric field E is F = Eq, the maximum electrostatic
dense phase, and that the charge density inside the bubbles was force, |Fe|max, is the product of |q|max and the electric breakdown
nearly zero because of the extremely low solids concentration potential of air. Thus
inside the bubble.
2pe0 qp dp Ed
2 3
Accumulation of electrostatic charges in fluidized beds can be
jF e jmax 167 7
attributed to entrainment of charged fines, leaving net positive or 3 qb D 1  eD
negative charges behind in the bed (Mehrani et al., 2005). In the
314 F. Fotovat et al. / Chemical Engineering Science 173 (2017) 303334

Dong et al. (2015b) compared the electrostatic force and the the findings of Maurer et al. (2016), who noted that the maximum
drag force exerted on polypropylene (PP) particles (d p = 1.85 mm, electrostatic forces can be relevant for particle adhesion and hence
qp = 900 kg/m ) for various gas velocities. As seen in Fig. 12, the
3 for the particle elutriation and attrition in fluidized beds. Because
maximum electrostatic force and drag were of the similar order the electrostatic forces are inter-particle forces, they primarily
of magnitude in their experiments. The drag force increased signif- affect entrainment by influencing whether particles travel individ-
icantly with increasing superficial gas velocity so that when super- ually or as aggregates/clusters. As shown by Maurer et al. (2016),
ficial gas velocity increased from 0.7 to 0.9 m/s, the drag became electrostatic forces may be complemented by van der Waals forces
the dominant force, considering that the charge density of PP par- in this role.
ticles never exceeded 50% (q/m)max in the system studied. Fig. 12 According to Feng and Hays (2003), both van der Waals forces
shows that when the PP particles were charged to 50% of (q/ and the image electrostatic force exerted on a particle with net
m)max, the electrostatic force was of the same order of magnitude charge of about 15 fC in the vicinity of a material surface can be
as the fluid drag at a low gas velocity (Ug = 0.7 m/s). For lower par- manipulated at least in a range over one order of magnitude with-
ticle charge densities, e.g. 25% of (q/m)max, the electrostatic force out encountering any physical limitations. It is generally believed
decreased correspondingly and the drag was dominant, except at that the electrostatic forces can be more important than van der
superficial gas velocities <0.5 m/s. While the drag force primarily Waals forces for large particles (Feng and Hays, 2003;
acts on the particles in the gas flow direction, the electrostatic force Hendrickson, 2006; Walton, 2008). However, the relative impor-
is exerted on the particle in both axial and radial directions, so that tance of electrostatic and van der Waals forces depends highly
the radial force component can be larger than the axial force com- on the surface characteristics of fines, such as roughness, and the
ponent (Jalalinejad et al., 2015a). Accordingly, Dong et al. (2015b) distance between adjacent particles. Irregular particles or particles
concluded that the electric force enhanced the radial motions of with a dusting of nano-scale fines may have very low effective van
charged particles when the magnitudes of the electric and drag der Waals adhesion forces. As a very rough estimate for such cases,
forces were similar. This resulted in an increase in the impact angle the electrostatic and image forces can exceed surface energy forces
between charged particles and the column wall (Dong et al., for particles considerably larger than 10 mm (Walton, 2008).
Fotovat et al. (2016a, 2016b) examined the relative significance 4.2. Influence of fluidized bed hydrodynamics on electrostatics
of electrostatic forces in the freeboard of a gas-solid fluidized bed
for various fines, where the electrostatic force was the result for The generation, dissipation and accumulation of electrostatic
the electrostatic interaction between a pair of touching fine parti- charges are closely related to the hydrodynamic behavior of flu-
cles of equal size and spherical shape, with the charge densities idized beds (Wei and Gu, 2015). The maximum level of charge
being experimentally measured values from the freeboard. To accumulation in fluidized beds is determined by the bed size and
demonstrate the range of variation in electrostatic force (Fe) nor- fluidization parameters, such as particle size, bubble size, as well
malized by the gravitational force (Fg), the normalized minimum as superficial gas velocity (Chen et al., 2003a, 2003b).
(Fe,min/Fg) and maximum (Fe,max/Fg) electrostatic forces are plotted In general, the degree of electrification (charge per particle or
vs. the particle size in Fig. 13 based on the lowest and highest per unit mass of particles) increases with increasing superficial
charge densities measured in the Fotovat et al. (2016a, 2016b) gas velocity in bubbling fluidized beds (Alsmari et al., 2015a;
experiments. Fig. 13 also depicts variation of the drag force (Fd) Guardiola et al., 1996; He et al., 2015a; Liu et al., 2010;
with particle size for the tested fines. It is seen that most of the Moughrabiah et al., 2009; Park et al., 2002a). This is attributed to
(Fd/Fg) curves lie within the shaded regions demarcated between enhanced particle movement by large bubbles and increased con-
the (Fe,min/Fg) and (Fe,max/Fg) curves. Moreover, most of the Fd/Fg tact frequency between particle and wall surfaces
band, for fine particles, >1, indicating that the electrostatic forces (Tiyapiboonchaiya et al., 2012). Under bubbling conditions, the flu-
on these particles often exceed the gravity force, which must be idized bed usually contains two circulation zones core and annu-
overcome for entrainment to occur. Therefore, when analyzing lus. Positive and negative electrical currents can be traced in
the elutriation of fine particles, it is crucial to consider the effect different locations of the bed, with opposite polarities associated
of the electrostatic forces on entrainment. This is in accord with with different circulation zones, demonstrating the interplay
between hydrodynamic and electrification phenomena. The elec-
trical potential distribution can be manipulated by altering the
gas-inlet configuration (Tiyapiboonchaiya et al., 2012; Zhou et al.,
2013). For instance, by strengthening a core-annulus structure,
Zhou et al. (2013) enlarged the upper circulation zone by increas-
ing the inlet gas velocity in the core zone. Conversely, the bottom
circulation zone was expanded by increasing the gas velocity in the
annulus zone. These alterations led to expansion of the electropos-
itive and electronegative zones, respectively. Fig. 14 compares the
electrostatic potential distributions in a fluidized bed of LLDPE par-
ticles with three different gas-entering modes. One should note
that the local electrical potential may not directly reflect the local
charge density because charged particles in the whole fluidized
bed determine the distribution of electrical potential fields.
Cheng et al. (2012b) studied electrostatics in the fully devel-
oped regions of the riser and downer of a large-scale circulating
fluidized bed. They found that at relatively low superficial gas
velocities the typical core-annulus flow pattern in the riser main-
tained a balance between negative and positive induced currents
generated due to the motion of charged particles. When the flow
Fig. 12. Comparison of electrostatic force and drag force at different gas velocities pattern approached dilute phase transport or the dense suspension
p = 1.85 mm, q = 900 kg/m3) (Dong et al., 2015b).
for PP particles (d up-flow regime at high superficial velocities in the riser, positive
F. Fotovat et al. / Chemical Engineering Science 173 (2017) 303334 315

p = 38 mm, q = 2700 kg/m3), (b)

Fig. 13. Comparison of drag-to-gravity force ratio at (Ug-Ut = 0.3 m/s) with electrostatic-to-gravity force ratio for (a) fine glass beads (d p
alumina (dp = 35 mm, q = 3200 kg/m3), (c) polyethylene furanoate (PEF) (d
p = 41 mm, q = 940 kg/m3), (d) cork (dp = 171 mm, q = 664 kg/m3) and (e) porcelain (d
p = 138 mm,
p p p
qp = 2403 kg/m ) (Fotovat et al., 2016b).

induced current became dominant, likely associated with reduced and Geldart (1972) and Guardiola et al. (1996) found that the
back-mixing or down-flow of sand particles near the wall. charge density increased with increasing particle size, likely
The electrostatic characteristics also differed in the fully devel- because of augmented inter-particle contacts. Addition of large
oped regions of a riser and a downer. While increasing the air polymer granules to a fluidized bed containing particles of the
superficial velocity resulted in an increase in the average induced same chemical composition, but different sizes, had no discernable
current in the riser, it led to a decrease in the induced current in effect on the electrostatic level, other than a little fluctuation of the
the downer at a given solids circulation rate (Cheng et al., electrostatic potentials (Yu et al., 2010). However, injection of
2012b). Both the experimental observation of Cheng et al. small granules could increase or decrease the electrostatic poten-
(2012a) and the results of numerical simulations showed that tial of the bed, depending on the amount added (Moughrabiah
the average induced currents increased with increasing solids mass et al., 2012; Yu et al., 2010). This was attributed to the role of small
flux in a downer at a given gas velocity, because of the increased particles in altering the contact mode between particles and in
number of particles colliding with the probe. affecting the generation, transfer and neutralization of electrostatic
Particle size has a significant effect on the accumulation of elec- charges. For instance, as illustrated in Fig. 15, in the presence of
trostatic charges in bulk powder flows (Wu and Bi, 2011). Boland fine particles which tend to adhere to surfaces of opposite polarity,
316 F. Fotovat et al. / Chemical Engineering Science 173 (2017) 303334

Fig. 14. Electrostatic potential distribution in a fluidized bed of LLDPE particles with three different gas-entering configurations (Ug = 0.3 m/s): (a) normal uniform gas-inlet
mode, (b) gas entering core zone exclusively, and (c) gas entering annulus zone exclusively (Zhou et al., 2013).

Fig. 15. Transition of the structure of a bed of coarse LLDPE particles by adding fine particles (Yu et al., 2010).

the contact surfaces between coarse particles themselves and due to increased charge dissipation at higher temperatures. Fig. 17
between coarse particles and the column wall are reduced. As shows the effect of temperature on cumulative transferred charge
the fines concentration increases, the contact between fine parti- to the ball probe as a function of time in a bed of LLDPE particles.
cles and between fineparticles and the wall increases to a certain Increasing the initial bed height resulted in an increase in the
extent and then levels off. In general, the finer the granules, the degree of electrification of fluidized polypropylene (PP) particles
stronger the influence on fluidized bed behavior (Yu et al., 2010). because of increased bubble size enhancing solids circulation and
Moughrabiah (2009) and Moughrabiah et al. (2009) explored frequency of particle collisions (Tiyapiboonchaiya et al., 2012).
the influence of operating pressure on the degree of electrification
in bubbling fluidized beds of glass beads and high-density poly-
ethylene resin (HDPE) particles (see Fig. 16). As the pressure 4.3. Influence of electrostatics on hydrodynamics of fluidized beds
increased, the degree of electrification, as reflected by the average
current from ball probes and particle charge density from a Fara- Electrostatic charges can change the forces on particles (Dong
day cup, increased, probably due to an increase in bubble rise et al., 2015a; Jiang et al., 1994; Revel et al., 2003), thereby inducing
velocity, frequency, and volume fraction. This is consistent with a particle-wall adhesion, inter-particle cohesion, and agglomeration
higher degree of fluidized bed wall coating observed in the exper- (Hendrickson, 2006; Wang et al., 2009; Wolny and Kazmierczak,
iments of Song et al. (2016) as a consequence of elevating the sys- 1993), which can further affect electrostatic phenomena in the
tem pressure from atmospheric to 2600 kPa. Moughrabiah et al. bed. For instance, in fluidized beds of polyethylene (PE), small
(2009), Alsmari (2014), and Alsmari et al. (2015a) reported a agglomerates and falling sheets significantly affect the electrostatic
decrease in electrostatic current, associated with charge polarity behavior of the bed by changing the particle concentration, as well
reversal, as the bed temperature increased from 20 to 75 C, likely as the surface charge and polarity of particles (Yang et al., 2016b).
F. Fotovat et al. / Chemical Engineering Science 173 (2017) 303334 317

Fig. 16. (a) Effect of pressure on cumulative transferred charge to ball probes as a function of time measured by a collision probe located at the center of a fluidized bed of
glass beads  0.3 m above distributor, dp = 321 mm, T = 19 C, RH = 912%, and U -U = 0.05 m/s. Numbers on the curves denote absolute pressures (in kPa). (b) Charge
g mf
density of HDPE particles measured by Faraday cup, d p = 450 lm, T = 22 C, RH = 913%, and U  U = 0.05 m/s, particles sampled 0.15 m above distributor (Moughrabiah
et al., 2009).

bubble rise velocity from less fluctuating dynamic height of a

bed of charged coarse polypropylene particles, fluidized in a cylin-
drical column. The discrepancy in the impact of electrostatics on
the bubble rise velocity in studies of Jalalinejad et al. (2015a,
2015b) and Dong et al. (2015a) may be due to different wall effects
on bubble properties in 2D and 3D columns. Moreover, Jalalinejad
et al. (2016) showed that the distribution of charge density along
the bed affects the bubble shape and stability, thereby influencing
the bubble rise velocity. Accordingly, the different charge density
distributions of particles in these studies may explain the different
conclusions drawn about the effect of electrostatic charges on bub-
ble rise velocity in fluidized beds.
When particles are mainly charged with one polarity, repulsion
forces dominate (Dong et al., 2015a). Then the void fraction in the
emulsion phase increases, explaining shrinkage of bubbles (Dong
et al., 2015a; Hassani et al., 2013). As a consequence of a reduction
Fig. 17. Effect of temperature on cumulative charge, measured by a collision probe
in the bubble size and velocity and also because of the charged par-
located at the center of a fluidized bed of LLDPE beads about 0.3 m above ticles which adhere to the wall and form immobile close-packing
distributor, as a function of time. dp = 600 mm, P = 379 kPa, and Ug-Umf = 0.05 m/s aggregates, the bed height slightly decreases and bed level fluctu-
(Moughrabiah et al., 2009). ations are damped (Dong et al., 2015a; Lim, 2013). Increasing the
degree of electrification of particles can also delay fluidization by
increasing the minimum fluidization velocity (Dong et al.,
Experimental and numerical studies have reported that the fre- 2015a). Electrostatics accumulation in fluidized beds also restrains
quency and size of bubbles decrease due to particle charging in flu- particle motion and reduces particle impact velocities, which may
idized beds (Dong et al., 2015a; Hassani et al., 2013; Jalalinejad augment wall sheeting and particle agglomeration. However, at
et al., 2015a, 2012). Moreover, the bubble rising zone in the bed high gas velocities, where the effect of the drag force on particles
shrinks as a consequence of electrostatic accumulation (Dong is dominant, the impact of electrostatic force on the particle impact
et al., 2015b). Bubble elongation and the tendency of bubbles to velocity was found to be insignificant (Dong et al., 2015b).
rise more towards the axis of the column in the presence of Computational simulations of fluidized beds with electrostatic
charged particles have also been predicted by computational sim- effects have indicated that charged particles are subject to axial
ulations (Jalalinejad, 2013; Jalalinejad et al., 2015a, 2012) (see and lateral segregation because of the non-uniform potential dis-
Fig. 18a and b). Bubble shape and stability have been shown to tribution and particle charging in the bed (Bi, 2005). Due to the
be influenced by the particle charge density distribution in the presence of adhesive forces between particles and the walls arising
bed (Jalalinejad et al., 2016). Coalescence of a pair of bubbles in a from electrostatic forces, particle motion is significantly hindered.
bed of charged particles was predicted to be asymmetric (see Consequently, fluidization is less vigorous in beds with strong elec-
Fig. 18c and d), with the leading bubble wobbling, and particles trostatic effects, and the mixing efficiencies of such systems are
raining from the roof of the trailing bubble. less than those with weak electrostatic effects (Lim, 2013).
Numerical simulations of Jalalinejad et al. (2015a, 2015b) also Fig. 19 compares the time evolution of Lacey mixing indices of
predicted higher rise velocity of elongated bubbles in the lower three systems differing in the charge densities of particles and
part of a 2D column containing charged glass beads, compared to the column wall. Electrostatic forces between particles and walls
a corresponding uncharged system. This was in line with experi- during the fluidization process were observed to be stronger on
mental work of Grace and Harrison (1967), who found that elon- average than both fluid drag forces and particle-particle collision
gated bubbles rise at higher velocity. However, with respect to forces when strong electrostatic effects were present (Lim, 2013).
uncharged conditions, Dong et al. (2015a) inferred the reduced Particle segregation due to different charges is more pronounced
318 F. Fotovat et al. / Chemical Engineering Science 173 (2017) 303334

Fig. 18. Effect of charge density distribution on single simulated bubbles for (a) uncharged particles and (b) uniformly charged particles with charge density of 1 lC/kg
(dp = 520 mm, qp = 2500 kg/m3, Ujet = 0.64 m/s) (Jalalinejad et al., 2016). Coalescence of two simulated bubbles in horizontal alignment in (c) uncharged (d) charged particles
with charge density of  0.33 lC/kg (dp = 300 mm, qp = 2450 kg/m3, Ug = 0.084 m/s) (Jalalinejad et al., 2015b).

Fig. 19. Time evolution of Lacey mixing indices for simulated fluidized bed systems at various fluidizing velocities with particle charge density and wall charge density of (a)
1 mC/kg and 1 mC/m (b) 1 mC/kg and 10 mC/m, and (c) 10 mC/kg and 10 mC/m (Lim, 2013).

for the particle fraction that is at lower concentration, because of 2017b). Fig. 20 portrays the normalized entrainment flux of fines
the higher frequency of collisions with particles of a different size vs. electrostatic-to-gravity-force (Fe/Fg) ratio for a variety of binary
(Bilici et al., 2014). Monopolar charged particles are subject to lat- mixtures composed of fine and coarse particles. Fig. 20 suggests
eral segregation which is increased by particle charges that, regardless of the ratio between superficial gas velocity and
(Kolehmainen et al., 2016a). Size segregation in fluidized beds terminal settling velocity of fine particles (Ug/Ut), the entrainment
can be suppressed in the presence of bipolar electrostatic charges, flux decreases with increasing electrostatic force. Such a trend can-
since small and large particles having opposite polarities are likely not be predicted by any of the many empirical correlations pro-
to attach to each other and form agglomerates (Yang et al., 2017b). posed to estimate particle entrainment from fluidized beds,
There is a lack of experimental studies on the mutual effects of exclusively based on hydrodynamic mechanisms, which have been
mixing or segregation of particles and their electrostatic character- shown to be prone to extremely wide discrepancies in predictions,
istics in fluidized beds. up to 20 orders of magnitude (Chew et al., 2015), in part due to
There is extensive evidence that the entrainment of charged ignoring electrostatic effects. By incorporating the effect of electro-
fines is reduced relative to uncharged particles due to particle- static forces on the entrainment process and developing a new cor-
particle and particle-wall attractive interactions hindering free relation, Fotovat et al. (2016b) showed that the predictability of the
and independent particle motion (Alsmari et al., 2015b; Baron correlations for estimating entrainment rates can be greatly
et al., 1987; Briens et al., 1992; Fotovat et al., 2016b, 2016c; improved. Fotovat et al. (2016c, 2016d, 2017b) also demonstrated
Tardos et al., 1983; Wolny and Kazmierczak, 1989; Yang et al., that both the particle conductivity and the column wall material
F. Fotovat et al. / Chemical Engineering Science 173 (2017) 303334 319

of the reactor product discharge system or loss of fluidization as

a consequence of significant wall sheeting (Hendrickson, 2006).
The methods adopted to control electrostatic charges in fluidized
beds are categorized as charge generation rate reduction, charge
dissipation rate enhancement and charge neutralization
(Hendrickson, 2006). Table 1 provides some methods pertaining
to each mechanism found to be effective in mitigating electrifica-
tion in fluidized beds.
Grounding the column wall is commonly ineffective in reducing
electrostatic charges in fluidized beds (Park et al., 2002a; Sowinski
et al., 2011), possibly because of limited charge transfer from
poorly conductive dielectric particles to the reactor wall. However,
coating the inner column wall with an appropriate antistatic or
charge-neutralizing agent is a proven method to mitigate electro-
static charges (Mihan et al., 2002; Muhle et al., 2005). In Plexiglas
laboratory-scale columns operating at ambient temperature, coat-
ing the inner surface with a layer of cellotape or Scotch tape has
Fig. 20. Normalized entrainment flux vs. electrostatic-to-gravity-force ratio of
entrained fine particles, with electrostatic forces varied by varying the relative
been widely used to prevent particles from adhering to the wall
humidity (from 5% to 35%). Coarse particles, 9095% of bed inventory, were coarse (Grace and Baeyens, 1986; Park et al., 2002a).
glass beads of average size 528 lm in all cases (Fotovat et al., 2016b). xi denotes the There is extensive evidence that increasing the relative humid-
weight fraction of the ith cut of particle size distribution, with di as average ity of the fluidizing gas decreases the level of electrostatic charging
in fluidized beds (Fujino et al., 1985; Jiang et al., 1997; Tardos et al.,
1983; Tardos and Pfeffer, 1980; Wolny and Kazmierczak, 1989).
properties have major impacts on the entrainment of fines because The increase in humidity of the fluidizing gas may lower the resis-
of their effects on the electrostatic force exerted on particles in the tivity and the break-down potential of the gases, helping to dissi-
freeboard zone. pate particle surface charges (Bi, 2011). At relatively high relative
humidities, the reduction in bed charge level is attributed to the
5. Electrostatic charge control increased surface conductivity of moisture-coated particles
(Boland et al., 1969). Adsorption hysteresis of the powder has a
As discussed above, electrostatic charges in gassolid fluidized large effect on the charging characteristics (Nomura et al., 2003).
beds can lead to problems such as agglomeration, wall sheeting, Thus the impact of relative humidity on tribo-electrification of par-
reduction of product quality, and unscheduled shutdowns (Dong ticles in fluidized beds also depends on particle surface properties.
et al., 2014; Wang et al., 2009). Therefore, there is great incentive This is supported by observations of Giffin and Mehrani (2013) and
to control electrostatic charge generation and accumulation in flu- Alsmari (2014), who found that relative humidity has no effect on
idized beds. Most relevant studies have been carried out on flu- the charge density of hydrophobic fine particles, which are unlikely
idized bed polymerization reactors, which are prone to plugging to be coated with moisture. Fotovat et al. (2016d) observed that the

Table 1
Summary of methods adopted for electrostatic charge mitigation in fluidized beds.

Mechanism Approach Example

Reducing the charge Reducing contact surface area Adding 0.1 vol% fines (dp < 10 mm) to a fluidized bed of 1 mm polystyrene beads (Wolny and Opalinski,
generation rate 1983)
Changing the operating Increasing bed operating temperature from 20 to 75 C in a bed of fluidized glass beads, alumina or
conditions polymer particles (Alsmari et al., 2015a; Moughrabiah et al., 2009)
Enhancing the charge Increasing the relative Increasing relative humidity to 4080% in a bed of fluidized glass beads and polyethylene particles (Park
dissipation rate humidity et al., 2002b)
Adding antistatic agents Adding 0.14 wt% graphite and other conductive fines to a bed of fluidized glass beads (Bafrnec and Bena,
Adding Larostat 519 (<1.5 wt%) to a bed of fluidizing glass beads or polyethylene particles (He et al.,
2015b; Mehrani et al., 2007b; Moughrabiah et al., 2012)
Using antistatic agents on supported catalysts in polymerization reactors (McKay et al., 2009;
Neal-Hawkins et al., 2005)
Coating the reactor inner walls with an antistatic agent mixed with polyalpha olefin (Mihan et al., 2002)
Neutralizing Adding charge inducing agents (All examples are connected to fluidized bed polymerization reactors)
electrostatic charges Injecting very small amount of water (0.13 ppmv) (Ali and Hagerty, 1997; Chirillo et al., 1989; Goode
et al., 1989)
Adding 0.12 wt% inorganic positive or negative charge generating compounds (Song et al., 1995)
Adding solid metal oxide (0.25 wt%), water, ethanol and Triethylaluminum co-catalyst (Wang et al., 2009)
Adding a mixture of aluminum or chromium salts of an alkylsalicylic acid and alkali metal alkyl
sulfosuccinate (Brown and OShaughnessy, 1976; Willcox, 1980)
Adding hydroxyethyl alkylamine or its derivatives (Poliafico et al., 2005)
Using a static modifier catalyst such as a titanium-based catalyst (Brant et al., 2005; Eisinger et al., 1991;
Fulks et al., 1985)
Coating the reactor inner walls with a titanium-based compound of 100 lm thickness (Muhle et al., 2005)
Generating or injecting charge- Injecting ions through a supersonic nozzle into bulk material fluidized with humid air (Taillet, 1993)
neutralizing ions Installing electrodes of an in situ corona charge eliminator on the wall of a bed of fluidized LLDPE particles
(Dong et al., 2014)
320 F. Fotovat et al. / Chemical Engineering Science 173 (2017) 303334

charge density of conductive fine particles was increased by layers (Barletta and Tagliaferri, 2006a). In this technique the
increasing the relative humidity, presumably because the electrical work-piece is completely immersed in the dense bed of a fluidized
conductivity of moisture coating was lower than that of the con- bed of charged particles, or held in the freeboard zone, some dis-
ductive particles, hindering charge dissipation. Fig. 21 illustrates tance above the dense bed. The latter approach is superior in
the opposite trends of change in particle charge density with achieving high coating performance of parts with complex shapes
increasing relative humidity for dielectric uncoated and conductive because of the easy access of fine powders to the coating surface
silver-coated fine glass beads of the same size, density and shape, without altering the hydrodynamics of dense bed. Electrification
fluidized in stainless steel and acrylic columns. of particles is achieved through corona charging in which elec-
In general, injection of antistatic or charge inducing agents is trodes are located in the bottom of the bed to charge the particles
the most successful technique to eliminate electrostatic charges (Barletta and Tagliaferri, 2006a). Alternatively, particle-particle
in commercial fluidized bed polymerization reactors (Wang et al., and particle-wall contacts are exploited for particle tribo-
2009). Selection of an appropriate electrostatic charge inducing charging, alleviating the need of a high-voltage electrode system
agent in these reactors depends on the polarity of the electrostatic for corona charging and providing greater safety (Ali and Inculet,
charge induced and the effects on the catalyst activity 2000). The coating is based on adherence of charged particles to
(Hendrickson, 2006). When solid metal oxides are used as the the grounded work-piece. Fig. 22 demonstrates an electrostatic flu-
charge inducing agent, their chemical composition, especially the idized bed coating setup. The airflow, applied voltage and exposure
electronegativity of the metal ions, can greatly influence the final time are among the most important parameters affecting the coat-
electrostatic potential distribution (Wang et al., 2009). ing thickness. A voltage of about 70 kV has been determined for
In addition to the approaches listed in Table 1, a few other tech- optimal coating. Higher voltages reportedly result in decreased
niques have been proposed to control tribo-charging in particulate coating thickness and related deterioration of surface aesthetics,
systems, though their effectiveness in fluidized beds needs to be whereas lower voltage levels can cause weak powder adhesion or
explored experimentally. Physisorption and chemisorption of elec- poor coverage on substrate, leading to deterioration of surface fin-
tronegative species, such as oxide layers, and environmental con- ish (Barletta and Tagliaferri, 2006b).
tamination on the surface of particles have been shown to
decrease the chargeability of particles upon tribo-electrification 6.2. Solids separation
by changing their surface work functions, resulting in a reduced
charge generation rate (Trigwell et al., 2003). Surface modification Bipolar charging of the components of a solid particulate mix-
by oxygen plasma treatment is another method suggested for tai- ture provides favorable conditions for solids separation when the
loring the work function of polymeric powders to provide selective freely flowing tribo-charged particles are exposed to an external
unipolar charging (Trigwell et al., 2003). Plasma treatment has also electrical field, deflecting particles with a given polarity towards
been exploited to increase the charge decay rate of acrylic and an electrode of opposite polarity. Fluidized beds are usually uti-
epoxy polymer powders by increasing the hydrophilicity and lized as chargers in tribo-electrostatic separators, especially at
decreasing the electrical resistivity of the particle surface industrial scales. Depending on the characteristics of the particles,
(Sharma et al., 2003, 2002). fluidization may offer additional advantages, enhancing the sepa-
ration efficiency. The main applications of fluidized bed tribo-
6. Applications electrostatic separators are covered in the next paragraphs.

6.1. Powder coating 6.2.1. Coal and fly ash beneficiation

Beneficiation of coal is often imperative to improve the effi-
Due to relatively low initial equipment and maintenance costs, ciency of coal utilization and reduce pollution. Electrostatic bene-
electrostatic fluidized beds can be used for powder coating, ficiation is an advanced dry fine coal cleaning technology to
especially when coating uniform layers thicker than 250 mm. Elec- process coal particles finer than 300 mm (Dwari and Rao, 2007;
trostatic fluidized bed coating produces thick, uniformly coated Zhao et al., 2014). This technology has a comparatively small

Fig. 21. Comparison of charge density for (a) fine glass beads (b) silver-coated fine glass beads in acrylic column (circular symbols) and stainless steel column (square
symbols) at different relative humidities, with Ug = 0.56 m/s (Fotovat et al., 2017b).
F. Fotovat et al. / Chemical Engineering Science 173 (2017) 303334 321

Fig. 22. Schematic of (a) electrostatic fluidized bed coating setup and (b) fluidization column used by Barletta and Tagliaferri (2006b).

handling capacity and is used to produce value-added clean coal. tacting surfaces for enhanced tribo-electrification and separation
Prior to the separation stage, coal particles have to be electrostat- (Dwari and Rao, 2009; Higashiyama and Asano, 1998).
ically charged by contact or friction with other particles or with the Reducing the carbonaceous matter content of fly ash from coal-
walls of a container or a pipe in which they are conveyed by air. In fired power plants makes fly ash suitable for use in concrete.
the tribo-electrification process, due to different work functions Zhang et al. (2012a, 2012b) used a vibrating fluidized bed as a
and electrical properties, coal is positively charged, while accom- tribo-charger of impure fly ash containing unburned carbon.
panying impurities such as quartz, kaolin, pyrite, and calcite gain Charged particles were then discharged into a static electrical field
negative charges (Dwari and Rao, 2006; Xin-xi et al., 2009). During between two parallel copper plates, where they were separated.
free-fall through an electrical field generated between vertical Zhang et al. (2012a) found that the best separation could be
electrode plates, charged particles are separated according to the achieved with powders discharged from the dilute freeboard region
magnitude and polarity of their charges by being deflected toward of the tribo-charger fluidized bed, where fine particles tended to
the positive or negative electrode (Dwari and Rao, 2007). carry net positive charges.
Dwari and Rao (2008, 2009) developed a novel laboratory
fluidized bed coal tribo-charger equipped with internal copper baf- 6.2.2. Separation of granular plastic waste
fles (Fig. 23) to reach a greater particle charge build-up than in Fluidized beds can also be used to tribo-charge mixed plastic
other tribo-charging systems. The results showed that the ash con- waste granules (such as PET, PVC, PMMA, PS and PE), which are
tent could be reduced to 18% and 33% from 43% in feed coal, with then directed to an electrical field where free-fall of charged gran-
yields of about 30% and 67%, respectively. A fluidized bed could ules results in their deflection toward an electrode plate of oppo-
enable recycling of non-separated materials, improving the separa- site polarity. Depending on the relative position of plastics in the
tion efficiency. Moreover, a fluidized bed could provide an environ- tribo-electric series, granules gain charges of different magnitudes
ment for treating fine coal with vapors of acidic and/or basic and polarities, leading to their separation in the electrostatic field.
organic solvents to alter the surface energetic structure of particles, Various layouts have been devised for tribo-charger fluidized beds
thereby enlarging the work function difference between the con- to enable plastic granules to gain sufficient charge for deflection in
322 F. Fotovat et al. / Chemical Engineering Science 173 (2017) 303334

laboratory-scale tribo-electrostatic separator. The feedstock (flour)

was initially charged in a fluidized bed reservoir connected to a
Copper baffles tribo-charger tube. As depicted in Fig. 25, highly positively charged
protein particles were collected in the bin beneath the negatively
charged copper electrode plate, while the rest of particles, mostly
Fluidized bed carbohydrates, were collected in three other bins distal to the
charged plate. Under optimal operating conditions, protein-rich
fractions with a protein content of 38.1%, accounting for 50.4% of
the total protein, were produced (Tabtabaei et al., 2016b). Employ-
Cyclone Voltage ing a two-stage tribo-electrostatic separation process operated in
source laminar air flow with plate voltages of 5 kV followed by 1 kV
resulted in the production of a protein-rich fraction with 38%
N2 protein and a protein separation efficiency of 60% (Tabtabaei

Electrode plate + - et al., 2017).

6.3. Modifying hydrodynamics of fluidized beds

Electrification of particles by means of an external electric field

Collecting bins can be exploited to control bubble characteristics and improve the
quality of fluidization. For example, it has been demonstrated that
electric fields of the order of 1 kV/cm are effective in changing the
fluidization behavior of semi-insulating Geldart B and A powders
(Johnson and Melcher, 1975; van Willigen et al., 2005). Colver
separator (1977) deployed an electric field to dissipate bubbles near the
incipient bubbling velocity in a laboratory-scale fluidized bed.
The charge relaxation time of semi-insulating granules, i.e. static
Fig. 23. Scheme of coal electrostatic separator developed by Dwari and Rao (2008,
dielectric constant divided by the electrical conductivity of the
2009); (adapted from (Dwari and Rao, 2009)).
material, is comparable to the typical time interval between parti-
cle collisions. This allows for charge exchange during collisions,
the electrical field (Inculet et al., 1998; Iuga et al., 2005; Lee and preventing the particles from accumulating charges which can dis-
Shin, 2002). turb the particle polarization required for this technique (Lepek
One of the technical issues of the tribo-electrostatic separators et al., 2010). Polarized particles can be arranged in chains along
is setting an optimal voltage so that particles can be attracted to the external electric field direction, leading to bubble deformation.
the right collectors beneath the electrode plates, but not rebound This, however, can decrease the particle mixing rate (Sun et al.,
into the wrong collector due to overly forceful impacts (Wu 2015). Controlling the bubble size and spatial distribution can
et al., 2013). A solution is integration of fluidized bed tribo- facilitate reactor scale-up and increase conversion and selectivity.
charger and the electrical field, where charging and deflection Colver (2000) developed a force model for alternating and direct
occur at the same time (Dascalescu et al., 2011; Dragan et al., (AC-DC) current flow in particulate systems involving semi-
2011). In such a system, shown in Fig. 24, particles that do not insulating powders and compared the model to experimental data.
accumulate enough charges fall back from the electrodes to the flu- He also proposed an empirical force equation involving the electric
idized bed until they gain enough charge to adhere to the elec- field strength and frequency to estimate the demarcation between
trodes. Particles adhering to the electrodes can be either a fluidized bed and a bed in which the AC (alternating current) field
aspirated or removed by a belt conveyor. Despite the superiority forces lock up (freeze) particles (Colver, 2000).
of this system for separating plastic granules, a disadvantage is The optimal electric field to modify the hydrodynamic behavior
variation of the mixture composition with time because of uneven of a fluidized bed mainly depends on the characteristics of the par-
charging and collection rates of mixture constituents (Wu et al., ticles, such as conductivity and diameter (van Willigen et al.,
2013). This drawback may constrain the integration of bipolar sep- 2005). According to van Willigen et al. (2003, 2005), for 77 mm Gel-
aration systems in continuous industrial processes (Dragan et al., dart A glass beads, a co-flow (field lines parallel to the gas flow) AC
2011). electric field with a frequency of 520 Hz and intensity of 400
1600 V/cm can reduce the bubble diameter by up to 25%. The
reduction in bubble diameter for larger (700 mm) Geldart B parti-
6.2.3. Protein enrichment in a tribo-electrification bio-separation cles can be up to 85% at an optimal frequency of 2070 Hz.
Ionizable functional groups on the surface of particles promote 6.4. Enhancing fluidization of nanoparticles
their chargeability (Kamiyama et al., 1994; Mayr and Barringer,
2006; Nmeth et al., 2003). Proteins have many ionizable side Fluidization of nanoparticles is a promising technique for the
chains, in addition to their amino- and carboxy-terminal groups, chemical, pharmaceutical and other industries which use ultrafine
enabling them to be charged upon physical contact with the particles due to its potential for powder dispersion, coating, gran-
tribo-charging media due to the transfer of electrons or ions ulation, mixing and improving gassolid reaction efficiency
between the surface of the tribo-charger and the ionizable groups (Quintanilla et al., 2008). Unfortunately, most nanopowders cannot
exposed at the surface of the protein particles. Unlike proteins, car- be uniformly fluidized, impeding processes that rely on the poten-
bohydrates are weakly charged through tribo-electrification, due tially high gas-solids contact surface provided by nanoparticles
to their low proton affinity and ionizability (Ahn and Yoo, 2001). (Quintanilla et al., 2012). Due to the exceedingly large ratio of
Tabtabaei et al. (2016a, 2016b, 2017) took advantage of the differ- interparticle attractive force to particle weight, fluidized nanopar-
ence in tribo-charging affinity of protein and carbohydrates to pro- ticles tend to form hierarchical fractal structured, highly porous
duce high-quality protein powders from navy bean flour using a agglomerates of the order of hundreds of microns in diameter
F. Fotovat et al. / Chemical Engineering Science 173 (2017) 303334 323

Fig. 24. Fluidized bed-type tribo-electrostatic separator (Wu et al., 2013).

Fig. 25. Schematic of tribo-electrostatic separator used to enrich protein from navy bean flour (Tabtabaei et al., 2016a).

(Valverde and Castellanos, 2007). Dielectric dry nanoagglomerates between agglomerates are much weaker than the attractive van
accumulate significant charge during fluidization, of the order of der Waals force, the charge of nanoparticles in the fluidized bed
1014 C, comparable to the typical charge measured in pneumatic has negligible influence on the agglomeration dynamics.
conveying of micron-sized and larger particles (Valverde et al., Since porous light agglomerates suppress gas bubbles in flu-
2008). The high charge level acquired in fluidization is attributable idized beds of nanoparticles, even at superficial gas velocities well
to the large specific surface area of nanopowders and to the high above the minimum fluidization velocity, mobilizing or disrupting
charge transfer between nanoparticles and vessel walls these agglomerates is vital to boost fluidization of nanoparticles in
(Quintanilla et al., 2012). However, since the electrostatic forces the absence of bubbles. One of the techniques used for this purpose
324 F. Fotovat et al. / Chemical Engineering Science 173 (2017) 303334

is to apply an electric field to enhance mobilization of dispersed enhances the gas distribution and improves fluidization. Further-
agglomerates relative to the gas, analogous to electrophoresis of more, the variable field has almost no effect on lightweight
particles suspended in fluids (Quintanilla et al., 2012). The opti- agglomerates at the top of the bed, thus avoiding excessive elutri-
mum frequency for enhancing bed expansion enables agglomer- ation (Quintanilla et al., 2012).
ates to be displaced over distances a few times larger than their
sizes. It has been found that bed expansion is enhanced for field 6.5. Measuring fluidized bed hydrodynamics
oscillation frequencies of tens to hundreds of Hertz. For oscillation
frequencies of the order of Hertz, or smaller, bed expansion is hin- The relationship between electrification and solids motion in
dered due to electrophoretic deposition of the agglomerates onto gas-solid flows has been well scrutinized to characterize the veloc-
the vessel walls, which leads to channeling and depletion of the ity, concentration and mass flow rate of solids in pneumatic trans-
bed (Kashyap et al., 2008; Quintanilla et al., 2008). For oscillation port (Gajewski, 2006; Ma and Yan, 2000; Qian et al., 2014, 2012;
frequencies of the order of kiloHertz, or larger, the agglomerates Yan et al., 2006). However, there are few studies on the use of elec-
cannot follow the rapid oscillations of the field, and hence bed trostatic signals to explore the hydrodynamics of fluidized beds
expansion is unaffected (see Fig. 26). The field strength needed to (Zhang et al., 2015, 2013), primarily because of poor understanding
enhance bed expansion must produce an electric force on the of the relationship between tribo-electrification and hydrodynamic
agglomerates slightly larger than their weight, while the oscillation phenomena in these systems.
velocity of the agglomerates must be similar to the gas velocity
(Quintanilla et al., 2012). 6.5.1. Measurement of particle mean velocity
Espin et al. (2009) demonstrated that expansion of a non- One technique to measure particle velocity is to utilize arrays of
bubbling fluidized bed of insulating silica nanoparticles was ring- or arc-shape induction sensors installed on the outer wall of a
enhanced by imposing an alternating electric cross-flow field with fluidized bed at different levels above the distributor. Single or
oscillation frequencies between tens and hundreds of Hertz and double ring induction sensors have commonly been used to mea-
field strengths of about 1 kV/cm. Under these conditions, naturally sure particle velocities in pneumatic conveying lines based on
charged nano-agglomerates experienced forced oscillations that probe calibration and cross-correlation of signals from two rings,
caused an increase in the shear on their surfaces, leading to a separated by a given distance, by assuming uniform particle flow
decrease in the size of agglomerates. in the pneumatic conveying lines (Ma and Yan, 2000; Yan et al.,
Stratification, i.e. migration of large and small agglomerates to 1995). This technique can be associated with a greater error in a
the bottom and top of the bed, respectively, is a common issue in dense phase system than in a dilute pipe (Xu et al., 2010b, 2008)
nanoparticle fluidization caused by the wide size distribution of because the particle concentration profile is prone to continuous
the nano-agglomerates, especially in the case of unsieved samples fluctuations due to the instability of dense phase gas-solid flows
ranging from tens of microns to millimeters in diameter. According (Liang et al., 2007).
to Lepek et al. (2010), the most effective technique to assist flu- Since velocity and the relative concentration of particles in
idization of such particles is to apply a non-uniform alternating upward and downward flows in the detection zone of the sensors
electric field, weak in the vicinity of the free surface, but strong contribute to the induced electrostatic signals, this approach is
close to the bottom of the bed. The variable field agitates the heavy suitable to obtain the mean velocity of particles lying in the com-
agglomerates at the bottom of the bed, destabilizing the develop- mon detection zone of the upper and lower sensors by dividing the
ment of gas channels close to the distributor, which in turn distance between the centers of the sensors by the transit time

Fig. 26. Relative variation of the particle volume fraction vs. alternating electric field frequency for different gas velocities. Root-mean-square of the field strength is 1.25 kV/
cm. Photos in the inset illustrate electrophoretic deposition (left, Ug = 2.7 cm/s, f = 1 Hz), enhanced expansion (center, Ug = 2.7 cm/s, f = 20 Hz), and minor field effect (right,
Ug = 2.7 cm/s, f = 1 kHz) (Quintanilla et al., 2012).
F. Fotovat et al. / Chemical Engineering Science 173 (2017) 303334 325

between the upstream and downstream electrostatic signals. The umn. Satisfactory agreement was observed between the visual
dominant peak in the cross-correlation function of the pair of sig- measurements and calculated values of the bed level, with a max-
nals is used to identify the time lag. The ability of cross-correlation imum relative error of about 4% and a mean relative error of 2%.
techniques to correctly determine the particle mean velocity lar-
gely depends on the selection of appropriate sampling frequency
(order of kHz) and integral time, i.e. number of data points used
7. Simulation including electrostatic charges
in the cross-correlation calculation (Yang et al., 2017a). Note that
the velocity obtained from this technique is the average of upward
Compared with experimental studies, computational analysis of
and downward velocities of particles in the core and the wall
electrostatics in fluidized beds has received little attention until
region of the bed. Induction sensors have been shown to be more
recent years. A difficulty to incorporate the electrostatic effects in
sensitive to charged particles near the electrodes (Zhang et al.,
fluidized beds is the lack of a precise model to predict dynamic par-
2013), affecting the measurement accuracy, particularly when
ticle charging as a function of the hydrodynamics, operating condi-
there is strong back-mixing of particles in the bed (Sun and Yan,
tions, properties of the materials involved in the fluidization
2016). However, it has been reported that a change in electrostatic
process and location. As a simplistic approach to overcome this
charge level has nearly no effect on the correlation between the
hurdle, the charge density has usually been assumed to be uniform
upstream and downstream signals (Shi et al., 2017).
and constant for the fluidized particles. This approach has been
Recent findings of Yang et al. (2017a) demonstrate that the
widely adopted in Eulerian-Eulerian and Eulerian-Lagrange models
results obtained from this technique in a Plexiglas column with
used for computational fluid dynamics (CFD) estimation of electro-
an inner diameter of 140 mm satisfactorily represented the mean
static forces in fluidized beds. The Eulerian-Eulerian models treat
particle velocity of the entire cross-section of the dense bed at dif-
the gas and solid phases as interpenetrating continua, with each
ferent levels. Fig. 27 shows the layout of the arc-shape electrodes
set of particles with unique size and charge density represented
used by Yang et al. (2017a). Since this technique lumps together
by a different solid phase, rendering this approach computationally
the effects of particle velocity, particle charging, and concentration
costly. However, changes in sub-macroscale structures may not be
distribution, further research is required to illuminate the impact
captured by Eulerian-Eulerian simulations (Kolehmainen et al.,
of each parameter and provide more localized results.
2016a). Therefore, it is unclear if changes in the microstructure
due to electrostatics require refinement of the constitutive gas-
6.5.2. Measurement of bed level particle drag and particle stress models proposed for uncharged
Consistent with the experimental findings of Gajewski (1985), particles.
Fang et al. (2008) observed that if there was a distinct interface The EulerianLagrangian approach adopted for studying the
between the dilute and dense phases, the voltage polarity reversed electrostatic phenomena in fluidized beds mostly combines com-
near the bed surface, regardless of the gas velocity, static bed putational fluid dynamics (CFD) and the discrete element method
height and particle size. This observation, attributed to the bipolar (DEM). CFD-DEM considers the gas phase as a continuum, with
charging of particles of different sizes, was exploited in their study the momentum and continuity equations solved for each solid
to determine the bed level by measuring the axial distribution of phase at the particle level. The trajectory and motion of each par-
electrostatic potential along a fluidized bed of linear low-density ticle is calculated at each time step and thus becomes very compu-
polyethylene (LLDPE) particles in a Plexiglas column (150 mm in tationally demanding with increasing numbers of particles. Hence,
inner diameter and 1000 mm high) equipped with eight electro- there is a limitation on the number of particles which can be
static copper bar probes located at various heights along the col- included in simulations.


Fig. 27. Installation layout of arc-shape electrodes in Yang et al. (Yang et al., 2017a).
326 F. Fotovat et al. / Chemical Engineering Science 173 (2017) 303334

Table 2
Summary of computational studies on electrostatics in fluidized beds.

Reference Numerical approach Specifications of the system modeled Method of particle charge
Rokkam (2012) and Rokkam et al. E-E (Coupled MFM and electrostatic 2D and 3D Prefixed, size-dependent (different
(2010a, 2010b) model) Fluidized-bed zone (D = 0.40.6 m, H = 48 D) polarities of small, medium, and large
Disengagement zone (Dd = 24 D, Hd = 46 D) particles)
Rokkam et al. (2013) E-E (model of Rokkam et al. (2010a)) 2D (W  H = 0.086  1.27 m2) Prefixed, experimentally measured
charge densities of fine, dropped, and
wall particles
Jalalinejad (2013) and Jalalinejad E-E (TFM coupled with the 2D (W = 0.280.54 m, H = 0.581.22 m) Prefixed (monopolar particles with
et al. (2012, 2015a, 2015b, 2016) electrostatic force density proposed Monodisperse particles same magnitude of charge
by Melchers (1981)) (Jalalinejad et al., 2015a, 2015b,
2012), three horizontal layers of par-
ticles with different charge densities
(Jalalinejad et al., 2016))
Jiang et al. (2014) E-E (model of Rokkam et al. (2010a)) 2D (W  H = 0.186  14.0 m2) Prefixed, size-dependent (similar
polarities of coarse and fine particles)
Sun et al. (2015) E-E (TFM and MFM coupled with the 2D (W  H = 0.57  1.0 m2) Prefixed (monopolar particles with
electrostatic force density proposed Monodisperse particles the same charge density, two solid
by Melchers (1981)) phases with different charge
magnitudes and polarities)
Cheng et al. (2012a) E-L (CFD-DEM, electrostatic force 3D (Ddowner = 0.04 m, Hdowner = 2.0 m) Dynamic charging (neglecting charge
model incorporated into EDEM) Monodisperse particles transfer between particles, charge
exchange mostly due to particle-wall
collisions, neglecting charge
Hassani et al. (2013) E-L (CFD-DEM) 3D (W  HD = 0.15  1.00  0.01 m3) Prefixed (monopolar and bipolar
Np = 75,000 (monodisperse) particles)
Lim (2013) E-L (CFD-DEM) 3D (W  HD = 0.064  0.80  0.008 m3) Prefixed (experimentally measured
Np = 25,000 (monodisperse) particle charge density and linear
wall charge density by Yao et al.
Pei et al. (2013, 2016) E-L (CFD-DEM coupled with a 2D (W  H = 0.01  0.02 m2 and Dynamic charging
condenser model for modelling 0.005  0.035 m2)
contact electrification) Np = 2500 (monodisperse)
Kolehmainen et al. (2016a) E-L (CFD-DEM coupled with a hybrid 3D (D = 0.003 m, H = 0.096 m) Prefixed (monopolar particles with
approach) Np = 38,410 (monodisperse) the same amount of charge density,
two solid phases with different
charge magnitudes and polarities)
Kolehmainen et al. (2016b) E-L (CFD-DEM coupled with a hybrid 3D (D = 0.003 m, H = 0.096 m) Dynamic charging (triboelectric
approach) Np = 38,410 (monodisperse) charging through the model
developed by Laurentie et al. (2013))
Yang et al. (2017b) E-L (CFD-DEM) 2D (W  HD = 0.07  1.20  0.006 m3) Prefixed, size-dependent (opposite
Np = 31,620 large particles and 13,315 small polarities of coarse and fine particles)

2D: 2-dimensional.
3D: 3-dimensional.
D: Depth or diameter.
E-E: Eulerian-Eulerian.
E-L: Eulerian-Lagrangian.
H: Height.
MFM: Multi-fluid model.
Np: Number of particles.
TFM: Two-fluid model.
W: Width.

Electrostatic interactions among particles can be determined large cutoff distance is required to obtain reasonable estimates of
explicitly or implicitly. The explicit method generally determines the electrostatic force on a particle. Long-range contributions are
the electrostatic force directly, based on the charge on the particles more dominant than short-range contributions when monodis-
and the distance between them (Coulombs law), while the implicit perse particles have similar charge, while the opposite is true for
method first calculates the electric potential for the given charge oppositely charged mixtures (Kolehmainen et al., 2016a). Hybrid
density distribution in fluidized beds by solving Poissons equation. particle-mesh or particle-cell integrated methods have been pro-
The electric potential distribution is then differentiated to obtain posed to take into account the short-range contributions within
the electric field strength. The electrostatic forces on particles are the cutoff distance, as well as long-range contributions from parti-
obtained from the product of the electrostatic charge and the elec- cles beyond the cutoff distance (Hockney and Eastwood, 1988;
tric field strength (Pei et al., 2015). Kolehmainen et al., 2016a; Luty and van Gunsteren, 1996; Pei
Incorporating the explicit method into CFD-DEM models et al., 2015). This is first achieved by discretizing the electric field
requires summation of the forces exerted on each particle due to into a mesh, with the charge on the particles mapped onto the
all the other particles in the flow domain and the presence of nodes of the mesh. The potential function is then solved for the
bounding surfaces. Since this approach is highly demanding com- mesh using a continuum model, e.g. the Poisson equation
putationally, long-range contributions are ignored, limiting the (Hockney and Eastwood, 1988), or, alternatively, the pairwise
electrostatic forces to those exerted by the particles within a sum of the mapped charges is calculated from the mesh locations
user-specified distance from the particle of interest. However, a (Pei et al., 2015). According to Kolehmainen et al. (2016a),
F. Fotovat et al. / Chemical Engineering Science 173 (2017) 303334 327

Fig. 28. Simulated fluidization of bipolarly charged particles at Ug = 0.05 m/s in a 2D column (Pei et al., 2016).

EulerianEulerian simulations using the Poissons equation to is significantly hindered by electrostatically-induced adhesive
model the electrostatic effects can capture the electrostatic field forces between particles and the walls (Lim, 2013). This results
quite accurately for large systems consisting of similarly charged in less vigorous fluidization in the presence of strong electrostatic
particles, whereas EulerianLagrangian techniques are more effects, which can even give rise to defluidization (Rokkam, 2012;
appropriate for simulating systems of all sizes with oppositely Rokkam et al., 2010a, 2010b).
charged particles. Table 2 summarizes studies on the computa- Fig. 28 presents the predicted influence of electrostatic charges
tional modeling of electrostatic phenomena in fluidized beds. on fluidization of 2500 monodisperse Geldart B particles based on
The most important phenomena predicted by the simulation a CFD-DEM simulation model of a 2D fluidized bed (Pei et al.,
results are reviewed below. According to the numerical simula- 2016). At the early stage of fluidization (Fig. 28a and b), the flu-
tions, triboelectric charging causes fluidization to become more idized bed shows similar fluidization phenomena to that of
homogeneous and the bed height and particle velocities to uncharged particles. However, with accumulation of net charge
decrease (Kolehmainen et al., 2016b). Moreover, particles of differ- on bipolarly charged particles, crystalline agglomerates of particles
ent material properties, e.g. work function, are charged with oppo- form and the gas bubbles become smaller (Fig. 28c). In the pres-
site polarities and form agglomerates which inhibit fluidization at ence of strong electrostatic interactions, the gas cannot easily dis-
low gas velocities (Pei et al., 2016). Consequently, charged particles rupt the agglomerates of particles (Fig. 28d, positive in
in fluidized beds are subject to solids segregation (Rokkam, 2012; yellow1/light color and negative in blue/dark color). Consequently,
Rokkam et al., 2013, 2010a, 2010b), since the mixing efficiencies
of fluidized beds with stronger electrostatic effects are lower than 1
For interpretation of color in Fig. 28, the reader is referred to the web version of
those with weaker electrostatic effects and the motion of particles this article.
328 F. Fotovat et al. / Chemical Engineering Science 173 (2017) 303334

the dispersed fluidized bed is transformed into a collection of a)

agglomerates, and the gas predominantly percolates through the
channels between the agglomerates, rather than via bubbles
(Fig. 28d).
Evolution of particle charging in a 2D fluidized bed has been
simulated by the CFD-DEM approach using a dynamic charging
model (Pei et al., 2013). According to the simulation results, the
electrostatic charge is initially generated near the wall, then prop-
agating into the entire granular bed by particle mixing and parti-
cleparticle collisions. Consistent with the experimental findings,
the electrostatic charge increases exponentially, eventually reach-
ing an equilibrium state with a maximum value. The superficial gas
velocity can affect the charge transfer and mixing of the particles. A
higher superficial gas velocity results in larger, more rapid charge
accumulation and a sparse net charge distribution by breaking
agglomerates and mobilizing primary particles (Pei et al., 2016).
As mentioned previously, results of two-fluid model (TFM) cou-
pled with the electrostatic force density proposed by Melchers b)
(1981) showed that bubble shape and stability are functions of
the particle charge density distribution (Jalalinejad et al., 2016).
Depending on the superficial gas velocity, electrostatic charges
can decrease bubble size, modify bubble spatial distribution and
influence time-average solid velocities (Jalalinejad, 2013;
Jalalinejad et al., 2016, 2015a, 2015b, 2012; Sun et al., 2015). As
depicted in Fig. 29, a bubble progressively shrinks as the particle
charge-to-mass ratio increases owing to a decrease in the bubble
detachment time and an increase in gas leakage (Sun et al.,
2015). The electrostatic field is predicted to cause a denser bed
near the outer walls, leading to more gas flow per unit area near
the column axis (Jalalinejad, 2013).
CFD-DEM simulations of monopolar particles with constant and
uniform charge have also shown a decrease in the size and number
of bubbles, resulting in a more homogenous bed with increased
void fraction of the dense bed, reduced solids circulation and less
c) Charge-to-mass
solids dispersion (Hassani et al., 2013). Small fluidized beds of par-
ticles with monopolar charges are subject to lateral segregation, ratios [C/kg]
formation of a ring-like layer at modest charge levels, and bed
height oscillations which decrease with increasing charge level
(Kolehmainen et al., 2016a). In the case of equal numbers of posi-
tively and negatively charged particles, these characteristics
approach those of the neutral bed (Hassani et al., 2013;
Kolehmainen et al., 2016a), and connected chains of particles are
likely to form (Hassani et al., 2013).
Sun et al. (2015) simulated the impact of an external electrical
field on the hydrodynamics of a bubbling bed through a multi-fluid
model (MFM), coupled with the electrostatic force density pro-
posed by Melchers (1981). The simulation results showed that
under incipient fluidization conditions, imposing a DC electric field
can cause bubble splitting for a cross-flow field and bubble stretch-
ing in the case of a co-flow field. However, imposing an AC electri-
cal field at low frequencies can result in bubble deformation.
Discrete particle simulations of a fluidized bed of monodisperse Fig. 29. Variation of (a) bubble diameter and (b) bubble detachment time with
increasing particle charge density. (c) Variation of accumulated gas leakage fraction
spheres (dp = 200 mm, qp = 2500 kg/m3, ep = 7), enhanced by an
with time and particle charge density (Sun et al., 2015).
external AC electric-field, showed that at very high field strength
(3 kV/mm, 30 Hz), particles formed strings with reduced free
movement throughout the bed (van Willigen et al., 2008). Under
these conditions and compared to a regular fluidized bed, a larger tion near the wall are reduced as the particle self-generating elec-
number of bubbles formed in the bottom of the bed, regardless of trical field declines (Sun et al., 2015).
the orientation of the electric field. As these bubbles rose through In polymerization reactors involving polymer and catalyst par-
the bed, their coalescence rate was lower than for a corresponding ticles, the spatial distribution of particles depends on their charge
fluidized bed not exposed to an electric field because of the guiding and polarity (Rokkam, 2012; Rokkam et al., 2010a, 2010b). Exper-
paths formed by stringed particles. This led to smaller bubbles in imental testing of the simulation results obtained by Rokkam et al.
the higher region in the bed (van Willigen et al., 2008). Note that (2013) demonstrated that their model could successfully predict
self-generating electric fields of charged particles were not consid- solid distribution, segregation and height of the wall coatings of
ered in the simulations of van Willigen et al. (2008). Computational a laboratory-scale fluidized bed of polyethylene particles operating
simulations have shown that particle segregation and agglomera- in the bubble and slugging flow regimes.
F. Fotovat et al. / Chemical Engineering Science 173 (2017) 303334 329

The CFD-DEM simulation of a circulating fluidized bed involving particles and conducting walls, a bimodal distribution of charges is
charged particles illustrates that the average induced current observed; bed height oscillates and particles stick to the walls
caused by electrostatics is proportional to the solids mass flux in (Kolehmainen et al., 2016b), leading to reduced entrainment of
the downer (Cheng et al., 2012a). The electrostatic charging is charged fines (Rokkam, 2012; Rokkam et al., 2010a, 2010b; Yang
weaker along the downer compared to its entrance. The average et al., 2017b). Particle entrainment might even disappear in theory
induced current caused by charge transfer is much larger than that as the amount of charge on particles reaches high values. The effect
due to charge generation through tribo-charging and increases of electrostatic interactions on suppressing elutriation due to
with increasing initial particle velocities and particle size. The ini- enhanced particle agglomeration predominates over promoting
tial charges on particles or walls significantly influence electro- entrainment by increasing the fluidized bed expansion and the ver-
static charging (Cheng et al., 2012a). tical velocity component of small particles in the freeboard (Yang
The simulation results of Jiang et al. (2014) for an FCC riser pre- et al., 2017b).
dict that the influence of electrostatic forces on the particle distri- Fig. 30 depicts the predicted evolution of particle agglomeration
bution is more noticeable in the bottom dense region than in the and suppression of fine entrainment with increasing charge carried
upper dilute region under cold model conditions, and the electric by particles from zero to a maximum value (qmax). As shown in
potential distribution is inhomogeneous because of the hydrody- Fig. 30a, uncharged particles are dispersed well in the bed and a
namic segregation of particles. Electrostatics is predicted to have distinct boundary can be observed at the bed surface, with a
a weak influence on the particle concentration, gas phase tempera- core-annular distribution in the upper part of the freeboard. At
ture and main product yield for hot conditions of catalytic cracking. q = 0.25qmax, some small particles are attached to large particles,
Differences in work functions between the column wall and and the boundary between small and large particles becomes
particles can also affect particle charging during fluidization (Pei indistinct. However, as seen in Fig. 30b, small particles are still
et al., 2016). For a high effective work function difference between uniformly dispersed in the bed. In the upper part of the freeboard,

Fig. 30. Instantaneous snapshots of a simulated fluidized bed at different charge levels: (a) no charge, (b) 25% of qmax, (c) 50% of qmax, and (d) 100% of qmax (Yang et al., 2017b).
330 F. Fotovat et al. / Chemical Engineering Science 173 (2017) 303334

distances between particles become larger, and the lateral concen- surface conductivity. Adding charges/ions or charge induc-
tration difference becomes smaller. At q = 0.5qmax, dispersed small ing agents can also be effective in controlling fluidized bed
particles are no longer discernable in the dense bed as they form electrostatic potential by generating charges of polarity
strings or clusters with some of the large particles (Fig. 30c). At this opposite to the dominant polarity of the bed. Further
level of charge, there are still a few dispersed small particles in the research is needed to prove the efficacy of different charge
freeboard. Only agglomerates in the form of clusters can be control methods under commercial operating conditions,
detected in the bed once the charge reaches qmax (Fig. 30d). On i.e. high pressure and temperature.
average, electrostatic forces between particles and walls can be (4) Although electrostatic charging in gas-solid fluidized beds is
stronger than both drag and particle-particle collision forces when most often detrimental to reactor performance, several
electrostatic effects are strong (Lim, 2013). physical processes, such as powder coating and solids sepa-
ration, have been developed which take advantages of tribo-
8. Summary and recommendations charging in fluidized beds. Better understanding of the
underlying tribo-charging mechanisms should lead to devel-
We have summarized current knowledge of measurement, opment of techniques/strategies to tailor the electrostatic
characteristics, control, application, and simulation of electrostat- interactions.
ics in gas-solid fluidized beds. The following points capture the (5) Computational simulations which account for electrostatic
most important aspects of each topic, as well as challenges and interactions in fluidized beds have received increasing atten-
areas needing further research: tion in recent years. Predictions from both Eulerian-Eulerian
and Eulerian-Lagrangian (CFD-DEM) approaches have been
(1) Bipolarity and non-uniform charge distributions in fluidized compared with experimental results with some success.
beds containing particles of different sizes and chemical Most such models have assumed constant particle charges,
compositions increase the complexity of tribo-charging phe- without allowing for the dynamic nature of tribo-
nomena. Bulk measurements relying on the assumption of electrification kinetics in fluidized beds. Developing models
uniform spatial charge distribution are therefore unable to which predict dynamic charge generation, accumulation
capture the local charging characteristics. Localized mea- and dissipation as a function of hydrodynamics, operating
surement techniques such as small collision and induction conditions and particle properties, and coupling those elec-
probes, in conjunction with advanced signal analysis and trostatic kinetic models with CFD models could significantly
reconstruction methods, are needed to understand local improve the accuracy and applicability of the numerical
charging behavior in fluidized beds. It is also of practical approaches.
importance to develop commercially available probes able (6) Overall, a multiscale approach in which proper understand-
to differentiate between transferred and induced charges. ing of charge generation and dissipation mechanisms at the
Furthermore, creating an accurate picture of the bipolar particle scale (or even the molecular or crystal scale) cou-
charging and segregation of particles of different sizes and pled with the distribution of charged particles at the meso
charge polarities requires advanced techniques to measure (bubble) scale is required to predict the impact of electro-
transient local particle charge density, as well as charge den- static charges on overall reactor performance and to develop
sity distribution across a spectrum of particle sizes. effective tools for mitigating electrostatic charges.
(2) The generation, dissipation and accumulation of electro-
static charges in gas-solid fluidized beds are primarily deter-
mined by the motions of gas and solids. At the same time, Acknowledgements
particle-particle and particle-wall electrostatic interactions
influence the hydrodynamics of fluidized beds by changing The authors are grateful for financial support from a post-
the size and shape of bubbles, the velocity and mixing rate doctoral fellowship to F.F. granted by Fonds de Recherche du
of particles, and the elutriation rate of fines. The interrela- Qubec - Nature et Technologies (FRQNT) and for funding from
tionship between electrostatics and hydrodynamics compli- the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
cates characterization, operation and scale-up of gas-solid (NSERC) Discovery grant program.
fluidized beds. Electrostatic signals are a potentially rich
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