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© Institution of Chemical Engineers
Trans IChemE, Vol 77, Part A, October 1999

CFD SIMULATIONS OF SIEVE TRAY HYDRODYNAMICS
R. KRISHNA (FELLOW )*, J. M. VAN BATEN*, J. ELLENBERGER*, A. P. HIGLER*† and R. TAYLOR†
*Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands †Department of Chemical Engineering, Clarkson University, Potsdam, New York, USA

A

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) model is developed for describin g the hydrodynamics of sieve trays. The gas and liquid phases are modelled in the Eulerian fram ework as two interpenetrating phases. The interphase momentum exchange (drag) coef cient is estim ated using the Bennett et al. correlatio n as a basis. Several threedimensional transient simulatio ns were carried out for a rectangular tray (5 mm holes, 0.22 m3 0.39 m cross section) with varying super cial gas velocity, weir height and liquid weir loads. The sim ulations were carried out using a comm ercial code CFX 4.2 of AEA Technology, Harwell, UK and run on a Silicon Graphics Power Challenge workstation with six R10000 200 MHz processors used in parallel. The clear liquid height determ ined from these simulatio ns is in reasonable agreement with experim ental measurements carried out for airwater in a rectang ular tray of the same dimensions. It is concluded that CFD can be a powerful tool for sieve tray design.

Keywords: computational uid dynamics; sieve trays; clear liquid height; froth height; froth density

INTRODUCTION
The descriptio n of the hydrodynamics of sieve trays is of great im portance in industria l practice. For a given set of operating conditions (gas and liquid loads), tray geometry (colum n diameter, weir height, weir length, diam eter of holes, fractiona l hole area, active bubbling area, downcomer area) and system properties, it is required to predict the ow regim e prevailin g on the tray, liquid hold-up, clear liquid height, froth density, interfacial area, pressure drop, liquid entrainm ent, gas and liquid phase residen ce time distributions and the mass tran sfer coef cients in either uid phase. There are excellent surveys of the published literature in this 1 2 3 area (Kister , Lockett , Zuiderweg ). Published literature correlations are largely empirical in nature. In recent years there has been considerable academic and industrial interest in the use of computational uid dynamics (CFD) to model two-phase ows in process equipm ent. The volum e-of- uid (VOF) technique can be used for a priori determin atio n of the morphology and rise characteristics of 4 single bubbles rising in a liquid (Krishna and van Baten ). Considerable progress has been made in CFD modellin g of bubbling gas-solid uidized beds and bubble columns. CFD modelling of uidized beds usually adopts the Eulerian framework for both the dilute (bubble) and dense phases (emulsio n) and makes use of the granular theory to 5 calculate the dense phase rheological param eters (Bogere , 6 7 8 Boemer et al. , Ding and Gidaspow , Fan and Zhu , 9 10 ` Ferschneider and Mege , Gidaspow , Jenkins and 11 12 13 Savage , Kuipers et al. , Syamlal and O’Brien , van 1 4 ,1 5 Wachem et al. ). Discrete particle Lagrangian simulations of the particle phases have also been attem pted 16 (Hoomans et al. ). The use of CFD models for gas-liquid bubble colum ns has also evoked considerable interest in recent years and both Euler-Euler and Euler-Lagrange 639

frameworks have been employed for the description of the 17 18 gas and liquid phases (Boisson and Malin , Delnoij et al. , 19 20 Devanathan et al. , Grevskott et al. , Grienberger and 21 22 23 24 Hofmann , Jakobsen , Krishna et al. , Kumar et al. , 25 26 2 7,28 Lapin and Lu bbert , Lin et al. , Sokolichin et al. ¨ , 29 30 Torvik and Svendsen ). A recent review (Jakobsen et al. ) analyses the various modelling aspects involved for vertical bubble driven ows. There have been two recent attempts to model tray 31 hydrodynamics using CFD (Fischer and Quarini , Yu 32 32 et al. ). Yu et al. attempt to model the two-phase ow behaviour using a two-dim ensional model, focusing on the descriptio n of the hydrodynamics along the liquid ow path, ignorin g the variations in the direction of gas ow 31 along the height of the dispersion. Fischer and Quarini have attem pted to describe the 3-D transient vapour-liqu id hydrodynamics. An im porta nt key assum ptio n made in the 31 sim ulatio ns of Fisch er and Quarini concerns the interphase momentum exchange (drag) coef cient; these authors assumed a constant drag coef cient of 0.44, which is appropriate for uniform bubbly ow. This drag coef cient is not appropriate to describe the hydrodynamics of trays operating in either the froth or spray regimes. In this paper a three-dim ensional transient CFD model is developed, within the two-phase Eulerian fram ework, for hydrodynamics of a rectangular tray. The required interphase momentum exchange coef cient is estimated on the 33 basis of the correlation of Bennett et al. for the liquid holdup. Simulations have been carried out with varying supercial gas velocity, liquid weir loads and weir heights and the results compared with experimental data generated for the air-w ater system. The objective of this work is examine the extent to which CFD models can be used as a design tool in industria l practice.

L + r G eG g m L eL ($ uL (3) ­ ( r L e L uL ) ­ t +$ · ( r L e L uL uL 2 M G. Measurement of the volum e of the liquid thus collected allows determin ation of the clear liquid height.2 m s 2 1 . phase. liquid. including photographs of the rig.uva. 11. The gas and liquid phases share the sam e pressure eld. 2. uniformly over the downcomer cross section through seven equidistant holes of 2 mm diameter. 10. CD =3 4 rL 2 rL rG gdG 1 2 V slip (12) Trans IChemE. October 1999 . which has a cap on top to ensure uniform out ow of gas. hcl . the dispersio n height hdisp is read from the graduated scale attached to the side of the tray. Various weir heights. The gas enters the sieve tray trough a 0.92.09. Further details of the experimental set up. gas owm eter. consists of a rectangular sieve tray and ancillary gas and liquid distribution devices. 5. liquid lled stainless steel tube connected to a pressure sensor. 4.L . For the continuous.3. The liquid inlet tube (5) with an inner diameter of 15 mm is placed above the downcomer (6) and distribute s the liquid ­ ( r G e G uG ) ­ t +$ ·( r G eG uG uG 2 =2 e G $ p + M G. pG = pL . volum e fraction and viscosity of the kth phase. ranged from 43 102 4 to 123 10 2 4 m 3 s 2 1 m 2 1 . Vol 77. p is the pressure. estimate d the drag coef cient of a swarm of large bubbles using Figure 2. A calibrated rotam eter (8) is used to control the gas ow rate (7). C 1e = 1 . conductivity cell for residence time distribution measurements. The super cial gas velocity UG used in the experim ents ranged from 0.0627). and instantly .025 m diam eter copper tube. 80. Valve. quick shut-off valve. 14. respectiv ely. liquid outlet. The liquid ow rate is measured by a calibrate d liquid owmeter (4). 1. 90 and 100 mm were used in the experiments. 3. ­ ( eG rG ) ­ t ­ ( eL r L ) ­ t +$ +$ ·( r G eG uG ) ·( r L e L u L ) =0 (1) (2) m G e G ($ uG =0 + ($ uG ) )) T EXPERIMENTAL The experimental set-up. uk . For gas-liquid bubbly ows the interp hase momentum exchange term is 3 eG M L. Schematic of experimental set-up to measure hydrodynamics of rectangular sieve tray. 13. per weir length. weir (exchangeable). the turbulent contribution to the stress tensor is evaluated by means of k 2 e model.44 ReG = r L UG dG /m L (10) and for the inertial regim e. M G. liquid inlet tube. The liquid loads. velocity. C 1e = 1 . 34 Krishna et al. s k = 1 and s e = 1 . 7. the interphase momentum exchange between and liquid phases and g is the gravitational force. 15. CFD MODEL DEVELOPMENT For either gas (subscrip t G) or liquid (subscript L) phases in the two-phase dispersio n on the tray the volume-averaged mass and momentum conservation equations are given by Figure 1. and measurement technique are available on our web site: http://ct-c r4. gas supply. Top view of the geometry of the rectangular sieve tray used in the experiments. 12. The liquid from the storage tank (2) is fed to the downcomer (6) by means of a centrifug al pump (3). storage tank for liquid. 6. For the churn-turbulent regim e of bubble colum n operation. switched off and the liquid on the tray is allowed to drain to the container beneath. Sieve plate. downcomer (adjustable in vertical direction). shown in Figure 1. 8.G = r L C D ( uG 2 uL ) | uG 2 uL | (9) 4 dG where C D is the interphase mom entum exchange coef cient or drag coef cient. ek and m k represent. = 0. Part A.640 KRISHNA et al. using standard single phase param eters C m = 0 . No turbulence model is used for calculating the velocity elds within the dispersed gas phase. Hw of 60.5 to 1. the gas inlet and liquid inlet are sim ultaneously. QL /W .chem. tracer injection.44. The sieve tray geometry used in the experiments is shown in Figure 2 and consists of a total of 276 holes of 5 mm diameter (fraction al hole area on tray is 0. liquid owm eter. For a speci ed set of operating conditions. liquid pump. To measure the clear liquid height.nl/tra y. For the Stokes regim e CD = 24 /ReG . the macroscopic density. also known as the turbulent regim e CD (11) 31 which is the relation used by Fischer and Quarini . 9.L + ($ uL ) )) (4) T =2 eL $ p 2 + r L eL g where r k .

22 m. ). The choice B 2 G eG of the grid size is based on experience gained in the modelling of gas-liquid bubble colum ns operating in the 37 churn-turbulent regime (Krishna ). From the simulatio n results.uid mixture. October 1999 . The chosen grid size of 5 mm is smaller than the smallest grid used in our earlier 37 study (Krishna ). Layout of the sieve plate used in the CFD simulations. average liquid hold-up as a function of height has been determin ed.2 of AEA Technology.123 0. however. eG and eL are used. eG B =12 eL B (16) 1 The interphase momentum exchange term is therefore M L. When incorporating equation (18) for the gas-liquid momentum exchange within the mom entum balance relations (3) and (4) the local. Figure 4.tted grids.G = eG eL ( r L 2 rG) g 1 1 ( uG 2 2 ( UG /eB ) eB L G B eL uL ) | uG 2 uL | (18) where the term 1 /( U / ) 1 / is estimated a priori from the Bennett relation (16). The grid size is 5 mm and 216 5 mm square holes are used in the simulations. In order to overcom e this problem equation (17) is modi ed as follow s M L. The grids are non-staggered and all variables are evaluated 35 at the cell centres. The pressure-velocity coupling is obtained using the 36 SIMPLEC algorithm (Van Doorm al and Raithby ). An improved version of the Rhie-Chow algorithm is used to calculate the velocity at the cell faces. A commercial CFD package CFX 4. The geometry of the holes would in uence the results in VOF simulatio ns. Dispersion height has been de ned by the height at which the average liquid hold-up drops below 10 percent. UK.directions. indeed for the range of super cial gas velocities used in our experim ents and simulatio ns there are no well de ned bubbles. estim ate the gas hold-up: eL B = exp [ (! 2 12 . Harwell. uL . gives numerical dif culties during start-up of the tray with fresh liquid because in the freeboard the liquid hold-up is zero. transient. In this work the Bennett et al. y. The two-phase Eulerian simulatio n approach used here only requires that the gas phase be the dispersed phase. Grid cells of 5 mm size are used in the x-. Average liquid hold-up has been calculated by dividing clear liquid height by dispersion height. Part A. where grid convergence was satis ed.393 0.CFD SIMULATIONS OF SIEVE TRAY HYDRODYNAMICS where V slip is the slip velocity of the bubble swarm with respect to the liquid 641 V slip = | uG 2 uL | 1 2 V slip (13) Substituting equations (12) and (13) into equation (9) gives M L. using body. as shown in Figure 3. 91 . The dimensions of the computational space are 0. The fractiona l free-area in the computations is the same as that used in the experiments. was used to solve the equations of continuity and momentum for the two.and z. A fully implicit backward differen cing schem e was used for the tim e integration. A further point to note is that use of equation (18) for the momentum exchange obviates the need for specifying the bubble size. Trans IChemE.G = eG ( r L 2 ( UG /eB ) G 2 ( uG 2 uL ) | uG 2 uL | (17) This form ulation.55 us rG )g W W W W W W W W W W W W W W W W W WW r gas r liq 2 r gas ) ] 0 . this dispersio n could consist of either gas bubbles or gas jets.G = eG ( r L 2 rG )g ( uG 2 uL ) | uG 2 uL | (14) The slip between gas and liquid can be estim ated from super cial gas velocity UG and the gas hold-up eG V slip = UG /eG 33 (15) correlatio n is used to Figure 3. Vol 77. Clear liquid height has been determined by multiplying the average total system liquid hold-up with the height of the system. For the convective term s in equations (1) – (4) hybrid differencing was used. This package is a nite volum e solver. This approach ensures that the average gas hold-up in the gas-liquid dispersio n on the froth conforms to experimental data over a wide range of 33 conditions (as measured by Bennett et al. A representative dynamic simulatio n took about 2 days to attain steady state. square holes are used in the simulatio ns rather than circular holes because a rectangular Cartesian coordinate system is used. Figure 4 shows the layout of holes at the sieve plate in the bottom of the system . The use of square holes inside of circular holes does not impact on the simulatio n results because the Eulerian fram ework is used for describin g either uid phase. Speci cation of the computational space used in the CFD simulations. or a combination thereof. values of uG . however. The total number of grid cells within the computational space is 783 243 44 = 82368. which is used for a priori predictio n of bubble dynamics (Krishna 4 and van Baten ) Simulations have been perform ed on a Silicon Graphics Power Challenge with six R10000 processors running in parallel at 200 Mhz.

= 80 mm.nl/trayCFD.7 m s2 1 .642 KRISHNA et al. Figure 5. Snapshots of the front view of the Eulerian simulations at a super cial gas velocity. Part A.uva. weir height hw Trans IChemE. UG = 0. October 1999 can be viewed on our web site: http://ct-cr4.chem.253 10 2 4 m 3 s2 1 m 2 1 . An animation of the simulation . liquid weir load QL /W = 8 . Vol 77.

3000 tim e steps are required to attain quasisteady state conditions. UG = 0. uva. Figure 6.nl/trayCFD.7 m s 2 1 . October 1999 .25 3 10 2 4 m 3 s2 1 m 2 1 . An animation of the simulation can be viewed on our web site: http://ct-cr4. Trans IChemE. boundary conditions.chem. To obtain steady state values of the clear liquid height. Part A.CFD SIMULATIONS OF SIEVE TRAY HYDRODYNAMICS Further details of the computational algorithms used. Quasi-stead y state values are obtained by running a dynamic simulatio n until no more changes in the total liquid hold-up in the system are observed for a period large enough to obtain a time average. including an animation of a typical simulation are available on our web site: http://ct-cr4. instantaneous results have been averaged over a tim e period in which the liquid holdup in the system rem ained practically constant. The approach to a quasi-steady state is done by monitoring the liquid liquid in the system . liquid weir load QL /W = 8 . Vol 77. weir height hw = 80 mm. presented later in this work. Typically. The largest time step used in the –3 643 simulatio ns is 23 10 s.uva.chem.nl/trayCFD. Snapshots of the top view of the Eulerian simulations at a super cial gas velocity.

directions and over a suf ciently long time interval once quasi-steady state conditions are established. respectiv ely. Stichlma ir and Hofhuis and Zuiderweg work best for non-coalescing system s. Comparison of experimental data with literature correlations and CFD simulations.253 10 m s m 2 1 . Of the literature correlatio ns. Super cial gas velocity UG = 0 . Figure 8 compares the experimental data for the clear liquid height with varying super cial gas velocity with the results from CFD simulatio ns and four typical literature 33 correlations (Bennett et al. The values of the clear liquid height from the simulations are obtained after averaging over a suf ciently long time interval once quasi-steady state conditions are established and determining the cumulative liquid hold-up within the computational space.and y.g. Hofhuis and 39 40 Zuiderweg . 7 m s 2 1 . The values of the clear liquid height from the simulations are obtained after averaging over a suf ciently long time interval once quasi-steady state conditions are established and determining the cumulative liquid hold-up within the computational space. The values of the clear liquid height from the simulations are obtained after averaging over a suf ciently long time interval once quasi-steady state conditions are established and determining the cumulative liquid hold-up within the computational space. Comparison of experimental data with literature correlations and CFD simulations. the correlatio ns of Colwell. 253 10 2 4 m 3 s2 1 m 2 1 . Weir height 3 2 1 2 4 h w = 80 mm. The Bennett correlation and our CFD simulatio ns give a good representation of systems which show good coalescence behaviour. Super cial gas velocity UG = 0 . Colwell3 8 . with the results from CFD simulatio ns and literature correlatio ns.direction s and over a suf ciently long tim e interval once quasi-steady state conditions are establish ed. Part A. Comparison of experimental data with literature correlations and CFD simulations. Figure 7. October 1999 . Figures 9 and 10 compare the experim ental data for the clear liquid height with varying liquid weir loads and weir height. as is the chaotic behaviour of the tray. UG = 0. Clear liquid height as a function of the weir height. Distribution of liquid hold-up along the height of the dispersion 1 for super cial gas velocities.and y. The values of the hold-up are obtained after averaging along the x. Zuiderweg ). The simulated trends in the liquid hold-up with gas velocity UG are in line with 3 experimental data (e. those of 38 40 Colwell and Stichlma ir agree best with our experimental results.7 and 0.5. Weir height hw = 80 mm.7 m s 2 1 . liquid weir load QL /W = 8 . Such system s can be sim ulated by making the appropriate changes in the slip velocity relation used in equation (18). W eir height h w = 80 mm.253 10 2 4 m 3 s2 1 m 2 1 . Trans IChemE.644 KRISHNA et al. Figure 10. Apparently. The values of the clear liquid height from the simulatio ns are obtained after averaging over a suf ciently long time interval once quasi-steady state conditions are establish ed and determ ining the cumulative liquid hold-up within the computational space. 0. The existence of liquid circulatio n cells is apparent. . In the present experim ents it was found that small amounts of im purities and surface active agents tend to in uence the experimental results to a signi cant extent.9 m s 2 . CFD SIMULATIONS VS EXPERIMENTS Figures 5 and 6 present computational snapshots of the front view and top view of the tray. Stichlm air ). Clear liquid height as a function of the liquid weir load. Figure 9. The values of the hold-up are obtained after averaging along the x. the gas holdup would tend to increase with a concomitant decrease in the clear liquid height. Vol 77. If coalescence is suppressed by the presence of impuritie s. QL /W = 8 . Clear liquid height as a function of the super cial gas velocity. Figure 7 presents typical sim ulation results for the variation of the liquid hold-up along the height of the dispersion. liquid weir load QL /W = 8 . In Figure 10 it is noted that the deviation between our CFD sim ulations and the Bennett correlation for the clear liquid height increases when the weir height increases to Figure 8.

Renz. UG = 0. the clear liquid heights in the x . N m 2 2 pressure. van Beckum. Distillation Design. M. 1998.7 m s 2 1 . Nature.and y. volume fraction of phase. dimensionless viscosity of phase. F. F. liquid weir load and weir height. Pa s density of phases.. 11. Zuiderweg. Principles of Gas-Solid Flows. C. `ge. 51: 603 – 622. K.. 13. m coordinate. J.directions. P. 22 – 31. 1990. 5. Fan. van Duijn. m s2 1 1 slip velocity between gas and liquid. N m 2 3 1 liquid ow rate across tray. and Zhu. 9 and 10 the clear liquid heights were determin ed by averaging over the x . G. The values of the clear liquid height from the simulations are obtained after averaging over a suf ciently long time interval once quasi-steady state conditions are established and determining the clear liquid height by averaging over (a) y and z. and (b) over x and z directions respectively.. M. However. M . W . J.81 m s 2 2 dispersion height. NOMENCLATURE dG CD g H M p QL Re t u UG Vslip W x y z diameter of gas bubble. Eulerian simulation of dense 9. 1986. Jenkins. Schouten. 1996. 47: 1913 –1924. H. 14. For a typical run. 1983. J. A numerical model of gas. 9. B. with QL /W = 8 . for this purposes the 33 Bennett correlatio n was used. T. m coordinate. Greek letters e m r t values larger than 80 mm . R. J. A rigorous description of gas-solid uidized beds. P. Eulerian simulations of bubbling behaviour in gassolid uidized beds. UG = 0 . CONCLUDING REMARKS A transient three-dim ensional CFD model has been developed for tray hydrodynamics. (M cGraw-Hill. m s 2 Reynolds number. dimensionless acceleration due to gravity. Comput Chem Eng . Orlando. Cambridge). M. F. 2. Part A. Kister. M. AIChEJ . 85: pp. The only empirical input to the CFD simulatio ns is the slip velocity between the gas and liquid phases. U. 1999. A bubbling uidization model using the kinetic theory of granular ow. kg m 2 3 stress tensor. M. M. J and Gidaspow. AIChE Symp Series No. s 1 velocity vector. The gas and liquid phases are treated as interpenetrating continuo us phases and modelled within the Eulerian framew ork.. G. and Van Baten. 3. T. y and z direction s of the computational space (see Figure 3). Lockett.. 270 . Proc 13th Int Conf on Fluidized Bed Combustion.253 10 2 4 m 3 s 2 1 m 2 1 . It is concluded that CFD simulatio ns can be a powerful design and simulatio n tool.directions are given in Figure 11 (a) and (b). The importan t advantage of the CFD simulatio ns is that the in uence of tray geometry is automatically taken into account by the code. 1994. J. J. m s 2 weir length.. Boemer. 1992. and Van Swaaij. D. S. m 3 Figure 11. The im proved agreem ent between the CFD simulatio ns and experim ents with increasin g weir heights.7 m s 2 1 and hw = 80 mm . A. m s2 super cial gas velocity. suggests that the assum ed drag relations are more applicable to the bubbly froth regime rather than to the spray regim e. 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