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# 2005 Institution of Chemical Engineers Trans IChemE, Part A, May 2005
doi: 10.1205/cherd.03363 Chemical Engineering Research and Design, 83(A5): 469–477


School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, UK
School of Chemical, Environmental and Mining Engineering, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
Rolls-Royce plc, Derby, UK

ave-plate mist eliminators operate on the basis that liquid droplets impact on the
plates, accumulate and form thin films which drain away to remove the liquid.
However, the effect of the gas flow on the deposited films can be a factor limiting
the operational efficiency of the equipment. In this paper numerical simulations of the motion,
and subsequent deposition, of droplets on wave-plate mist eliminator surfaces are carried out
and a model for the generation and flow of the liquid film that forms is presented. Two exist-
ing models for film separation from a surface are coupled with the predictions of film thick-
ness to provide a method of determining whether, under a given liquid loading, re-entrainment
takes place.

Keywords: wave-plate mist eliminator; numerical simulation; droplet deposition; film


INTRODUCTION Experimental and numerical studies of aspects of the flow

through different types of wave-plate mist eliminator have
A wave-plate mist eliminator is one of several devices that been carried out by, for example, Verlaan (1991), Gillandt
are used in the process industries, for example the oil indus- et al. (1996), Phillips and Deakin (1990) and Wang and
try, to separate liquid from a primary gas stream. In the case Davies (1996). The present authors have carried out a
of a wave-plate mist eliminator, some measure of separation series of studies to assess the influence of turbulent dispersion
has already taken place prior to the liquid droplet laden (Wang and James, 1998, 1999) and drainage channels (James
flow passing through the eliminator and so the droplets to et al., 2003) on wave-plate mist eliminator performance.
be separated are small, typically, of diameter 5 mm – Liquid film formation through droplet transport and depo-
50 mm. The physical mechanism on which the operation sition has also been studied by a number of authors. For
of wave-plate mist eliminators is based is inertial depo- example, Bai (1996) considers film formation through
sition. The primary gas flow is made to pass through a spray impingement, with particular emphasis on the appli-
series of channels that contain sharp bends and as the gas cation to diesel engine combustion chambers. In this study
flows around a given bend, usually at a speed of several the author has given a very detailed analysis of the mechan-
metres per second, the droplets follow trajectories that isms of droplet deposition and subsequent film formation.
result in their collision with the channel walls. The purpose of this paper is to use the results of numeri-
In practice, the eliminator can be operated in vertical or cal calculations for droplet deposition in a laboratory scale
horizontal mode but, in either case, the tendency of liquid mist eliminator to develop a model for liquid film develop-
to form into thin films after deposition on the eliminator’s ment, shear and drainage. The results are coupled with
surfaces places limits on the liquid loading that can be Owen and Ryley’s (1985) model for film separation, in a
handled. If the liquid loading is too high and the films form modified for use in mist eliminator passages by
are not removed sufficiently quickly (usually by gravita- Azzopardi and Sanaullah (2002), and an alternative
tional drainage) then they may separate from sharp corners model, proposed by Llory et al. (2000). In this way, a
and re-introduce liquid into the gas flow. In the vertical method of predicting whether, at a given liquid loading,
case, a phenomenon termed flooding may occur, in which a deposited liquid film will re-entrain is obtained.
the draining films thicken to such an extent that they
bridge the channel and flow upwards. NUMERICAL SIMULATION OF DROPLET
Methodology and Gas Flow Calculation

Correspondence to: Dr P. W. James, School of Mathematics and
Statistics, University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth PL4 8AA, UK. Figure 1 shows schematically the cross-section of the
E-mail: idealized wave-plate mist eliminator that is used for the

470 JAMES et al.

Figure 1. Schematic diagram of the cross-section of the idealised wave-plate mist eliminator. The numbers 1–6 label the bends referred to in the text.
S ¼ 11.5 mm, l ¼ 40 mm and a ¼ 608.

calculations. There are six bends, as shown in the figure, channel, and so the calculations of the flow through the
and short inlet and outlet sections. Cartesian coordinates wave-plate mist eliminator may therefore be taken to be
are defined as shown with the cross-section lying in the grid invariant. At the inlet to the eliminator the flow con-
X-Y plane. Angle a ¼ 608, the plate spacing S ¼ 11.5 mm ditions are obtained from numerical solutions to the gov-
and the bend wavelength l ¼ 40 mm, these values erning equations in a long (80 S) straight duct of width S.
corresponding to the laboratory-based eliminator used by Wang and James (1998) show that in order to predict the
Azzopardi and Sanaullah (2002). The droplet laden flow (weak) recirculation zones downstream of the sharp convex
enters the eliminator from the left through the short inlet corners, a feature that was evident in the experiments of
section before being deflected by the wave-plates. Typical Gillandt et al. (1996), a low Reynolds number version of
bulk gas speeds are 3– 8 ms21 and these correspond to the k-1 model was required. However, in view of the facts
Reynolds numbers, based on the hydraulic diameter and that the mean gas velocity profile outside the recirculation
gas bulk velocity, of 4620 – 11 680. At these speeds the zone is reasonably well-predicted with the standard k-1
flow is likely to be turbulent, albeit of low turbulence inten- model, as is the size and shape of the region where recircula-
sity at the lowest speeds. The flow calculation therefore tion would take place (this region appears in calculations with
incorporates a turbulence model and is carried out using the standard k-1 model as a region with effectively zero velo-
the CFXTM commercial software. The standard k-1 model city) all calculations in the present paper have been made with
is used. In view of the fact that the dimensions of industrial the standard k-1 model. This approach was also taken in the
wave-plate mist eliminators are usually much larger in the recent work by James et al. (2003) and is thought justified
Z direction than in either the X or Y directions, it is assumed here as a reasonable compromise between accuracy of flow
that the gas flow is two-dimensional, i.e., variations in the Z simulation on the one hand and computational efficiency on
direction are ignored. A series of numerical calculations of the other. Figure 2, taken from James et al. (2003), shows
the turbulent flow in a rectangular channel of width S and the velocity vectors when the gas bulk velocity is
length 80 S with various grids reveals that solutions for 4.14 ms21. The main features of the flow are: (1) a high
the gas mean velocity, turbulence kinetic energy, k, and speed gas jet that detaches from each convex sharp bend;
its rate of dissipation, 1, which are effectively grid indepen- (2) a region of very slowly moving fluid in the area immedi-
dent can be achieved using 15 uniform cross channel cells ately downstream of the sharp bend; and (3) the rapid settling
and 240 uniform streamwise cells. The grids used in the down of the flow to a repeating pattern after successive bends.
calculations to be discussed in this paper have 30 uniform The Eulerian–Lagrangian calculation method for droplet
cross channel cells and 100 uniform cells along each half transport and deposition is used. In this method the primary
wavelength of the eliminator. This is a more refined grid, gas flow through the eliminator is computed first, without con-
especially in the direction parallel to a wave-plate, than sideration of the droplets, and the motion and subsequent
those used in the test calculations on the rectangular deposition of droplets is then calculated. The turbulence

Figure 2. Velocity vectors in a cross-section of the mist eliminator, U g ¼ 4:14 ms1 . The numbers shown in the figure are in ms1 .

Trans IChemE, Part A, Chemical Engineering Research and Design, 2005, 83(A5): 469–477

kinetic energy and its rate of dissipation are required for the where C1 ¼ 0.201 and C2 ¼ 0.164 (see, for example, Shuen
droplet tracking calculation, as described below. et al., 1984) are valid.
If Le , tdjug 2 udj then the time taken by a droplet to
cross the eddy, Tc, is
Droplet Transport and Deposition
" #
The so-called eddy-interaction model (see, for example, Le
Graham and James, 1996) is used to calculate liquid droplet Tc ¼ td log 1    ; (6)
jug  ud jtd
transport through the wave-plate mist eliminator. It is
assumed that there is no interaction between droplets, that
there is no modification of turbulence or mean flow due and the eddy interaction time, Ti, is taken to be Tc. If Le 
to the presence of droplets, that the droplets are hard tdjug 2 udj then the droplet becomes trapped in the eddy
spheres and that the effect of gravity on a droplet’s and Ti is set equal to Te.
motion is negligible. However, the influence of gas flow If it is assumed that td and ug remain constant over some
turbulence on the motion of droplets is taken into account. small time interval Dt then equation (1) can be integrated
The above assumptions, together with the additional to give
assumption that the only force acting on a droplet is aero-
dynamic drag, lead to the following equation of motion ud (t þ Dt) ¼ ug (t)  ½ug (t)  ud (t)eDt=td ; (7)
for a single droplet:
dud ug  ud and
¼ ; (1)
dt td xd (t þ Dt) ¼ xd (t)  td ½ug (t)  ud (t)(1  eDt=td )
where ug and ud are the instantaneous velocities of the gas
and the droplet, respectively, and t is time. The term td is þ ug (t)Dt: (8)
called the droplet relaxation time and is given by
The gas velocity ug(t) is found from
td ¼ ; (2) ug ¼ Ug þ u0g Nr ; (9)
3rg CD jug  ud j
where d is the droplet diameter, rd the droplet density, rg where Ug is the mean gas velocity, u0g is the fluctuating gas
the gas density and CD is the drag coefficient, given by velocity and Nr is a random number drawn from a Normal
(Wallis, 1969) distribution with mean zero and unity standard deviation. In
the eddy-interaction model an assumption of isotropy is
24 normally made so that
CD ¼ (1 þ 0:15Re0:687 ): (3)
Red d rffiffiffiffiffi
0 0 0 0 2k
ug ¼ (ugX ; ugY ; ugZ ) ¼ (1; 1; 1); (10)
Here Red is the droplet Reynolds number, defined by 3

rg djug  ud j where u0gX , u0gY and u0gZ are the components of the fluctuat-
Red ¼ ; (4) ing gas velocity. At the start of an interaction between a
mg droplet and an eddy the values of Ug, u0g and Ti are set
using flow field values at the droplet location. During the
where mg is the gas dynamic viscosity. The instantaneous interaction, Ug is updated whenever a droplet crosses a
gas velocity ug in the above equations is the sum of mean computational control volume boundary but it is customary
and fluctuating velocity, at a droplet’s location. It is the to update u0g and Nr only when the particle-eddy interaction
inclusion of the fluctuating part of the gas velocity that ends (see, for example, Graham and James, 1996). It was
allows for the influence of turbulence on the motion of shown by Wang and James (1999) that a relatively
the droplet. The numerical simulations with the CFXTM simple refinement of the model, similar to those used by
software provide mean velocities and the eddy-interaction Kallio and Reeks (1989) and Sommerfeld et al. (1993),
model provides a method of reconstructing their fluctuating can give improved predictions of droplet dispersion in the
components. The eddy-interaction model has a long history wave-plate geometry (except for very small droplets).
(see, for example, Gosman and Ioannides, 1981) and a form The refinement, which will be employed in this paper,
of it is incorporated into the CFXTM software. However, in updates the mean velocity Ug, the fluctuating velocity, u0g
the present work a modification of the method is used that and hence the eddy lifetime and length scale, each time a
speeds up the calculation and leads to better predictions of particle crosses a control volume boundary. The random
droplet collection efficiency in mist eliminators (Wang and number, Nr, is kept constant, however, throughout the inter-
James, 1999). The key concept in the eddy-interaction action. It is assumed that there is no correlation between the
model is that droplets encounter discrete eddies that have motion of successive eddies. The droplets are allowed to
a lifetime, Te, and length scale, Le, both of which vary move in all three spatial directions but their domain is
with location. Here, it is assumed that the standard essentially infinite in the Z direction. Finally it is noted
expressions that although in principle it is possible to incorporate aniso-
tropy into the calculations it is not thought that this level of
k C2 k3=2 refinement is justified in the context of the overall aim of
Te ¼ C1 ; Le ¼ ; (5)
1 1 this work.

Trans IChemE, Part A, Chemical Engineering Research and Design, 2005, 83(A5): 469–477
472 JAMES et al.

Droplet Size Distribution droplets in the ith size group at the inlet to the mist eliminator
to the total number of droplets of all sizes at inlet is
The droplet size distribution at inlet to the mist elimi-
nator is assumed to follow the Rosin –Rammler distribution ð dLi
(see, for example, Mugele and Evans, 1951). In this distri-
fi;0 ¼ pn (x) dx: (15)
bution the cumulative volume fraction of droplets with dSi
diameters less than d is given by
  The ratio of the number of droplets in the ith size group that
 c ;
fv (d) ¼ 1  exp (d=d) (11)
remain undeposited at the exit of bend j to the total number of
where d is a size parameter and c a distribution parameter. The droplets of all sizes at inlet is therefore
volume probability density function corresponding to fv(d) is
fi;j ¼ fi;0 ni;j : (16)
pv (d) ¼  c
c exp (d=d) ; (12)
d The volumetric fraction of droplets that deposit on the kth
and the number probability density function is wall cell of the mist eliminator is
cdc4   fi;0 (ri;k1  ri;k )di3
pn (d) ¼  c ;
exp (d=d) (13) wk ¼ PNc i¼1
PN  (17)
c3 3
d G(1  3=c) m¼1 i¼1 fi;0 (ri;m1  ri;m )di

where G(.) denotes the gamma function. Various mean diam- in which ri,j is the ratio of the number of droplets in the
eters can be defined in terms of the parameters d and c. For ith size group which have not deposited at, or upstream
example, the Sauter mean diameter d32 is defined by of, the kth wall cell to the total number of droplets at inlet
in this size group. Here Nc is the total number of cells
d along the mist eliminator. The values of ri,j in equation
d32 ¼ : (14) (17) can be obtained from droplet tracking results and the
G(1  1=c)
volumetric (or equivalently, mass) fraction of deposited
In the present work distributions corresponding to d ¼ 15, 20, droplets at each cell can then be found from equations
25 and 40 mm, and values of c of 2 or 5, are considered. (15) – (17). It is important to note that in any passage of
the eliminator, virtually all of the droplets (greater than
99.9%) that deposit do so on just one of the two walls
comprising that passage, for example wall AB in Figure 1.
These walls are termed ‘impact surfaces’ and are opposite
the walls where the low speed regions occur (see
Suppose that at entry to the wave-plate mist eliminator the Figure 2). When reference is made to the kth wall cell it is
droplets are divided into N size groups and that the diameters therefore assumed that it is the kth cell on the impact surface.
of droplets in the ith size group are in the range [dSi , dLi ] where A selection of results obtained for four gas speeds, for
dSi and dLi denote the smallest and largest diameters in the the eliminator channel shown in Figure 1, and for c ¼ 5
group. Let di represent the mean diameter of droplets in and different values of the droplet size parameter d,  is
the ith size group and ni,j be the ratio of the number of dro- shown in Table 1. In general, the total amount of liquid
plets in the ith size group which remain undeposited at the deposited increases with the bulk gas speed U g . For
exit of the jth bend to the number of similarly sized droplets example, at a speed of 2.96 ms21 the percentage of total
at the mist eliminator inlet. The ratio of the number of liquid trapped is 32% but increases to 84% for a bulk gas

Table 1. Percentage of liquid trapped in each bend (c ¼ 5).

Bulk gas speed

U g (ms21) 1st bend 2nd bend 3rd bend 4th bend 5th bend 6th bend Out

d ¼ 15 mm
2.96 6.66 4.64 7.35 4.40 6.75 2.95 67.23
4.14 10.21 10.73 12.08 6.94 9.51 4.40 46.13
6.00 16.13 20.19 16.21 7.68 9.23 4.44 26.12
8.00 21.50 25.90 18.01 6.71 8.13 3.78 15.93
d ¼ 20 mm
2.96 13.87 18.99 14.19 7.45 7.86 4.22 33.42
4.14 20.98 27.38 16.22 6.38 7.32 3.27 18.44
6.00 29.58 33.67 16.13 4.69 5.11 2.11 8.72
8.00 36.98 36.02 13.98 3.28 3.60 1.40 4.74
d ¼ 25 mm
2.96 24.31 31.22 15.02 5.83 5.66 2.81 15.15
4.14 33.33 35.85 13.94 3.81 4.09 1.64 7.34
6.00 43.14 37.14 10.75 2.29 2.34 0.87 3.20
8.00 50.04 37.29 7.59 1.44 1.46 0.52 1.66

Trans IChemE, Part A, Chemical Engineering Research and Design, 2005, 83(A5): 469–477

speed of 8 ms21 (c ¼ 5, d ¼ 15 mm). The amount of

trapped liquid also increases as the parameter d (which is
a measure of the mean droplet diameter) increases. The dis-
tribution of trapped liquid from bend to bend is fairly even
when the bulk gas velocity is low and when d is at its smal-
lest. However, the distribution becomes less uniform as d or
the bulk speed increase.
Using values of ri,j obtained from the droplet tracking
calculations, the distribution of deposited liquid along a
given wall of the wave-plate mist eliminator can be com-
puted. Figure 3 shows how the mass fraction in bend five
of the eliminator varies as d is changed. Note that each
curve is normalized so that the area under the curve is
one, and the horizontal axis is normalised so that the Figure 4. Variation of normalized distribution of deposited liquid in bends
length of the eliminator surface is one. These curves 1– 6 with fractional length along the wave-plate (c ¼ 5, d ¼ 20 mm).
therefore give no information about how the amount of
deposited liquid varies with d,  only how the shape of
the distribution varies. In contrast, in Figure 4, the distri-
butions of deposited liquid for all six bends (for c ¼ 5, Film Flow
d ¼ 20 mm; U g ¼ 4:14 ms1 ) are compared. The horizon-
Consider a flat plate with the origin at the top left corner,
tal axis is again normalized so that the length of each the x axis horizontal along the top of the plate, the z axis
eliminator surface is one. The quantities plotted are frac- vertically down along the left hand edge of the plate and
tions of mass deposited per cell and the sum of the areas
the y axis normal to the plate, as shown in Figure 5. A
under all six curves is one. Thus the graphs show not only
flux of droplets, D(x), independent of z, is assumed to
how the shape of the distributions change from bend to deposit on the plate giving rise to a liquid film of thickness
bend but also give an indication of how the amount of
h(x, z). The film is driven in the x direction by shear stress
deposited liquid varies. (This information is quantified in
exerted by the carrier gas and drains in the z direction under
Table 1.) The distributions in the second and subsequent gravity. Steady, incompressible, isothermal film flow is
bends are similar but that in the first bend is different,
assumed in which the liquid moves horizontally with
probably due to two factors. Firstly, there is a smaller
speed u(x, y, z) and vertically with speed w(x, y, z). The y
change in the gas flow direction, 308 for the first bend, component of velocity is taken to be zero. The equation
608 for the rest, and, secondly, there are relatively large
of mass conservation may be written
droplets entering the eliminator which are insensitive to
changes in the flow direction and travel in almost straight @ @ D(x)
line paths until they deposit. The region near the start of  z)) ¼
(h(x; z)u(x; z)) þ (h(x; z)w(x; (18)
@x @z rL
the second, and subsequent, bends, where the mass frac-
tion is near zero, coincides with the low velocity zone where rL is the liquid density and u (x; z) and w(x;
 z) are
and in regions such as this very little deposition occurs. depth-averaged velocity components, defined by
Consequently, the corresponding large mass fraction out-
side this region, especially near the sharp convex corner, ð h(x;z)
may lead to a thicker film and, hence, to local  z) ¼
½u(x; z); w(x; ½u(x; y; z); w(x; y; z) dy:
re-entrainment. h(x; z) 0

Figure 3. Variation of normalized mass fraction distribution in bend 5 with Figure 5. Schematic diagram of a single mist eliminator surface showing
fractional length along the wave-plate (c ¼ 5). local co-ordinate system.

Trans IChemE, Part A, Chemical Engineering Research and Design, 2005, 83(A5): 469–477
474 JAMES et al.

The horizontal and vertical components of velocity are where

assumed to be uncoupled, consistent with the analysis of
Azzopardi and Sanaullah (2002). The vertical component ðW
is taken to be the well-known Nusselt profile, in which it  ¼ 1
D D(x) dx (28)
W 0
is assumed that the liquid flows vertically under the influ-
ence of gravity alone, any effects due to the overlying
gas being ignored, and the horizontal component is taken is the average deposition rate. Since the solution for hng
to be a linear profile driven by the interfacial shear stress. given by equation (27) would also be obtained if h
These assumptions give tended to a limiting value, independent of z, as z increased,
hng may also be viewed as an equilibrium thickness which
ti (x)y is attained when the combined effects of shear stress, depo-
u(x; y; z) ¼ ; 0  y  h(x; z) (20) sition and drainage on the film thickness at x ¼ W no longer
depend on z. In the initial stages of film formation, for
r g(2h(x; z)y  y2 )
w(x; y; z) ¼ L ; 0  y  h(x; z); small values of z, the film will drain under gravity whilst
2mL being swept across the plate. Its thickness at x ¼ W will
(21) therefore be less than would be found if there were no drai-
nage. In this sense, the presence of gravity results in a thin-
and lead to ner film at the right hand edge of the plate than would be
obtained with no gravity. As will be seen below, the full
ti (x)h(x; z)
u (x; z) ¼ ; (22) numerical solution confirms this interpretation. That the
2mL absence of gravity leads to a thicker film at x ¼ W may
appear counter-intuitive. However, it must be remembered
that in the model there is a non-zero horizontal component
rL gh2 (x; z) of velocity at x ¼ W: the film continues to flow into the
 z) ¼
w(x; (23) region x . W whether it separates or not.
3m L
Figure 6 shows the variation of the film thickness with z/L
where ti(x) is the interfacial shear stress and mL is the liquid at x ¼ W, in bend 1, for three bulk gas speeds U g and a dro-
dynamic viscosity. The interfacial shear stress is obtained plet size distribution corresponding to c ¼ 5, d ¼ 25 mm
from the numerical simulations of the gas flow, and its cal- (distribution A). All calculations are carried out for an
culation ignores the influence of any thin liquid films on the inlet liquid mass loading of 0.01 kg s21. It is seen that at
eliminator walls. Equation (18) then becomes the highest U g values the film almost reaches a constant
  value at z/L ¼ 1, but, at lower bulk gas speeds, the film
@ ti (x)h2 (x; z) @ rL gh3 (x; z) D(x) thickness is still developing with z/L. The calculations
þ ¼ : (24)
@x 2mL @z 3mL rL show that a constant value is always reached for sufficiently
large values of z and this value is hng. This is consistent with
Equation (24) is solved numerically using the NAGTM the interpretation that the more dominant the effect of inter-
subroutine D03PEF under the boundary conditions facial shear, the faster the film thickness reaches its equili-
brium value. Figure 7 compares the film thickness profiles
h(x; 0) ¼ 0; 0  x  W; at x ¼ W, at the highest and lowest value of U g , for distri-
(25) bution A and a second distribution, designated B, for
h(0; z) ¼ 0; 0  z  L; which c ¼ 2, d ¼ 40 mm. Distribution A corresponds to a
symmetrical volume distribution of droplet sizes at inlet
where W is the width of the plate and L is the plate height. Here whereas distribution B is more representative of the distri-
L ¼ 130 mm and W ¼ 23 mm. The subroutine solves para- bution of droplet sizes generated by the nozzle in the exper-
bolic or hyperbolic partial differential equations using the imental work of Azzopardi and Sanaullah (2002). The value
method of lines. In equation (24), z is treated as the time-like of d in the two distributions is chosen such that both
variable, integration in the z direction is carried out with a
stiff ordinary differential equation solver and discretisation
in space (x) is via a form of backward differencing.
Before presenting detailed solutions of equation (24) it is
worthwhile considering first the nature of the solution in the
case of zero gravity. In this case equation (24) becomes an
ordinary differential equation in which h depends only on x:

d ti (x)h2 (x) D(x)
¼ : (26)
dx 2mL rL

The film thickness at x ¼ W, hng (subscript ng stands for

‘no gravity’) is then

2mL W D 1=2 Figure 6. Variation of h(W, z) with z/L in bend 1 of the model wave-plate
hng ¼ ; (27) mist eliminator for different values of U g (c ¼ 5, d ¼ 25 mm, liquid
ti (W)rL loading ¼ 0.01 kg s21).

Trans IChemE, Part A, Chemical Engineering Research and Design, 2005, 83(A5): 469–477

Figure 8. Location of eliminator surfaces on which most deposition takes


assumes that h(0, z) ¼ 0 in all bends. This means that any

liquid in the form of a film that has developed on a previous
eliminator surface and which has not been re-entrained is
Figure 7. Variation of h(W, z) with z/L in bend 1 of the model wave-plate
mist eliminator for droplet size distributions A and B (U g ¼ 2:96 ms1 and neglected in the calculation for the subsequent bend. This
8.00 ms21, liquid loading ¼ 0.01 kg s21). assumption is reasonable since the vast majority of droplets
are deposited on eliminator surfaces which lie on opposite
sides of an eliminator channel in any two consecutive bends
distributions have approximately the same Sauter mean (Figure 8 indicates which plates are ‘opposite’ and which
diameter at inlet. The rate of approach to equilibrium, and are ‘impact’). Therefore any contribution of liquid, in the
the equilibrium values themselves, are clearly affected by form of a base film, to the impact surface in a given bend
the change in drop size distribution at inlet, although the would have to come from the opposite surface in the pre-
vious bend, where D   0. A liquid film in bend I, say,
same general feature as in Figure 6 is observed, namely equi-
librium is reached at lower z values when U g is larger. which has not re-entrained forms a base film on the oppo-
site surface in bend I þ 1 but since D   0 on this surface
Table 2 shows the variation of hng in bend 1 of the elimi-
nator, for three gas bulk velocities and inlet droplet size dis- the film will drain away under gravity. Thus there is no
tributions A and B. It is seen that for a given distribution contributing base film to the impact surface in bend I þ 2.
hng decreases as U g is increased. This behaviour is In conclusion, it is reasonable to assume that the film
explained by the fact that both ti(W) and D  increase with growth on an eliminator surface in a given bend is indepen-
increasing bulk velocity but ti(W) increases at a faster dent of any film that appears in previous bends.
rate. Table 2 also shows that distribution A produces a
smaller value of hng than distribution B for all gas inlet
velocities, with the difference reducing as the bulk velocity
increases. This can be explained by noting that distribution FILM SEPARATION
B contains a greater proportion of very small and very large Owen and Ryley (1985) developed a model for thin film
droplets than the more bell-shaped distribution A, but fewer flow around a sharp bend based on the assumption that
mid-sized droplets. there is a balance between centrifugal force and surface
At low bulk velocities only the largest droplets are tension. The film is driven by a surface shear force and
deposited in bend 1, hence more volume is deposited gravity may assist or hinder film separation. Azzopardi
with distribution B than with distribution A and a thicker and Sanaullah (2002) modified the Owen and Ryley
liquid film is obtained. As the bulk velocity is increased, (1985) model for use with a wave-plate mist eliminator
the mid-sized droplets also begin to deposit. There are geometry by arguing that the effects of gravity could be
more droplets in this size range with distribution A, and de-coupled from those of interfacial shear. The equation
hence the difference in film thickness resulting from the that results for the critical film thickness, hc, above which
two distributions reduces. film separation will occur, is

rL t2i h3c s
Film thickness variation through the mist eliminator 2
¼ : (29)
The variation of film thickness through successive bends 3mL R R þ hc
of the wave-plate mist eliminator is now considered. The
model used for film growth under gravitational drainage Here s is the surface tension (taken to be 0.078 Nm21) and
R is the radius of curvature of the bend. Using results from
the numerical simulations equation (29) may be solved to
find hc. The theoretical predictions of the onset of film
Table 2. Maximum film thickness hng in bend 1 for various inlet separation do not appear to correspond very closely with
velocity and inlet drop size distribution parameters.
the experimental results of Azzopardi and Sanaullah
hng (mm) for inlet droplet size (2002), even if the radius of curvature of the bend is
distribution reduced to 100 mm (see Figure 9). Use of a larger radius
of curvature (1 mm), of the order to be expected in practice,
Bulk gas speed A (c ¼ 5, B (c ¼ 2, increases the discrepancy between theory and experiment.1
U g (ms21) d ¼ 25 mm) d ¼ 40 mm)
2.96 246 352 Due to an error in their analysis, which appears to stem from a misprint in
4.14 248 307 the paper of Owen and Ryley, Azzopardi and Sanaullah concluded that
8.00 194 230 theory and experiment were in reasonable agreement when the radius of
curvature of the bend is 1 mm.

Trans IChemE, Part A, Chemical Engineering Research and Design, 2005, 83(A5): 469–477
476 JAMES et al.

The dispersion relationship is

 pffiffiffiffiffi pffiffiffiffiffi
1 k Bo ð1=2Þ sinh(2k Bo )  k2 Bo
v ¼  1  2 p ffiffiffiffiffi ;
k (1=2)(cosh(2k Bo ) þ 1) þ k2 Bo

where v is the dimensionless wave growth rate, defined by

2mL hsc
v ¼ v ; (33)
Figure 9. Theoretical and experimental film thicknesses (hc) at the onset of
entrainment (liquid loading ¼ 0.01 kg s21).
and k is the dimensionless wave number, defined by

An alternative criterion for the onset of film separation s
from a sharp bend has been formulated by Llory et al. k ¼ k : (34)
a(rL  rg )
(2000). These authors assumed that small amplitude,
wave-like disturbances exist on the film surface and that
their growth leads to film separation. The method of Equations (32) –(34) can then be used to find the maxi-
Llory et al. (2000) does not lead to a simple equation mum growth rate vm and, as pointed out by Llory et al.
defining the onset of separation and so, for completeness, (2000), this quantity turns out to depend only on Bo. To
the main steps in their method are summarised below. complete the calculation, vm must be calculated for a
It is assumed that the displacement at time t at position range of values of Bo and its variation with Bo fitted
j along the surface of a film is of the form d(j, t) ¼ numerically.
exp(ikj þ vt), where k is the wave number of the disturb- The critical film thickness for separation based on the
ance and v is the growth rate. If vm is the most unstable model of Llory et al. (2000) is also shown in Figure 9. It
growth rate then the amplitude of a disturbance after a is seen that it leads to significantly better agreement with
time tpas is d0 exp(vmtpas), where d0 is the initial amplitude the experimental results of Azzopardi and Sanaullah
and tpas is the time taken for the film to flow around the (2002) than that obtained with the model of Owen and
sharp corner. The expression used by Llory et al. (2000) Ryley (1985) at this small radius of curvature.
for this time is ahsc =usc , where hsc is the film thickness Table 3 shows how hng changes from bend to bend for
and u sc is the mean horizontal film speed at the sharp distribution B at a bulk gas inlet velocity of 2.96 ms21.
corner. They then calculate R by assuming inviscid flow Also shown are the critical film thicknesses for entrainment
around the sharp corner. In this paper it is assumed that based on the Owen and Ryley (1985) and Llory et al.
the radius of curvature of the bend is known (100 mm). (2000) analyses. It is seen that the film thickness decreases
Although 100 mm is a significantly smaller value than from bend to bend through the mist eliminator, and so re-
might be found in industrial practice, the wave-plates in entrainment, if it occurs at all, would be expected in bend
the experiments of Azzopardi and Sanaullah (2002) were 1. In Table 4 the film thickness variation for the same par-
carefully manufactured from glass and would be expected ameters as before, but at an increased gas inlet velocity of
to have a small radius of curvature. It is noted that when 8.00 ms21 is presented. It is seen that at this gas velocity
the method used by Llory et al. (2000) is applied to the pre- the film thickness reduces from bend to bend, through the
sent work, it leads to an estimate of the radius of curvature wave-plate mist eliminator, at a faster rate. For the speci-
of the bend equal to four times the film thickness. The cri- fied liquid loading of 0.01 kg s21, it would be anticipated
terion for separation is that d/d0 exceeds a critical value, that some re-entrainment would take place, and although
which Llory et al. (2000) take to be 20, as this gives the two criteria for the onset of entrainment do not predict
good agreement between their measurements and predic- this, conditions are not far from critical in bend 1, at both
tions, and is the value used in this paper also. To complete gas speeds.
the calculation, Llory et al. (2000) use a dispersion relation
due to Jain and Ruckenstein (1976) that gives the growth
rate v as a function of the wavenumber k and the so
called Bond number, Bo, defined by Table 3. Film thickness variation through the mist eliminator for gas bulk
velocity 2.96 ms21 and inlet droplet size distribution B (c ¼ 2,
d ¼ 40 mm).
a(rL  rg )hsc
Bo ¼ ; (30) hc (mm) hc (mm)
s Bend hng (mm) Owen and Ryley Llory et al.

1 352 469 378

where a is the acceleration, defined by 2 250 438 367
3 139 437 356
4 101 436 356
u 2sc 5 121 439 357
a¼ : (31) 6 93 519 409

Trans IChemE, Part A, Chemical Engineering Research and Design, 2005, 83(A5): 469–477

Table 4. Film thickness variation through the mist eliminator for gas Gillandt, I., Riehle, C. and Fritsching, U., 1996, Gas-particle flow in a
bulk velocity 8.00 ms21 and inlet droplet size distribution B (c ¼ 2, comparison of measurements and simulations, Forschung Im Ingenieur
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Gosman, A.D. and Ioannides, E., 1981, Aspects of computer simulation of
hc (mm) hc (mm) liquid-fuelled combustors, Paper AIAA-81-0323, AIAA 19th Aerospace
Bend hng (mm) Owen and Ryley Llory et al. Sciences Meeting, St Louis, USA.
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SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS Mugele, R.A. and Evans, H.D., 1951, Droplet size distribution in sprays,
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ture of particle-laden jets: measurements and predictions, Report AIAA-
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film at the downstream end of a given surface to be and inconsistencies of Lagrangian particle dispersion models, Ninth
found via a model in which the film is driven by interfacial Symposium on Turbulent Shear Flows, Kyoto, Japan.
Verlaan, C.C.J., 1991, Performance of novel mist eliminators, PhD thesis,
shear and gravitational drainage. It is shown that of the
Delft University of Technology, Delft.
two theoretical criteria for film separation, each based on Wallis, G.B., 1969, One-Dimensional Two-Phase Flow (McGraw-Hill,
different physical concepts, one can be brought into reason- New York, USA).
able agreement with the experiments of Azzopardi and Wang, W. and Davies, G.A., 1996, CFD studies of separation of mists
Sanaullah (2002). This model is then used to determine from gases using vane-type separators, Trans IChemE, Part A, Chem
Eng Res Des, 74: 232–238.
if, at a given liquid loading, separation takes place in Wang, Y. and James, P.W., 1998, The calculation of mist eliminator effi-
a model wave-plate mist eliminator. Although no ciencies using numerical simulation of the flow field and droplet motion,
re-entrainment is predicted, when in practice it might be Trans IChemE, Part A, Chem Eng Res Des, 76: 980–985.
expected, the conditions for re-entrainment are very Wang, Y. and James, P.W., 1999, Assessment of an eddy-interaction
model and its refinements using predictions of droplet deposition in a
nearly met in bend 1. wave-plate demister, Trans IChemE, Part A, Chem Eng Res Des, 77:
Clearly, more detailed experimental measurements are 692–697.
needed to refine the criteria for the onset of re-entrainment
but the work presented has shown that it is feasible to con-
struct an overall model for predicting when re-entrainment
takes place in a wave-plate mist eliminator. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This work formed part of EPSRC Research Project GR/K5314. Yi
Wang and Jason Hughes acknowledge EPSRC for financial support. The
REFERENCES comments of the referees on an earlier version of this paper are also
Azzopardi, B.J. and Sanaullah, K.S., 2002, Re-entrainment in wave-plate appreciated.
mist eliminators, Chem Eng Sci, 57: 3557–3563.
Bai, C., 1996, Modelling of spray impingement processes, PhD thesis, The manuscript was received 24 September 2003 and accepted for
Imperial College, London, UK. publication after revision 8 February 2005.

Trans IChemE, Part A, Chemical Engineering Research and Design, 2005, 83(A5): 469–477