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07/98 111
Lesson 11
Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous
Pollutants
Goal
To familiarize you with the factors to be considered when reviewing absorber design plans for the
permit process.
Objectives
At the end of this lesson, you will be able to do the following:
1. Explain the importance of the following factors in absorber design:
• Exhaust gas characteristics
• Liquid flow
• Pressure drop
• pH
• Removal of entrained liquids
2. Estimate the liquid flow rate, the diameter, and the packing height of a packed tower
using appropriate tables and equations
3. Estimate the number of plates and the height of a plate tower using appropriate tables and
equations
Introduction
Gas absorbers are most often used to remove soluble inorganic contaminants from an air
stream. The design of an absorber used to reduce gaseous pollutants from process exhaust
streams involves many factors including the pollutant collection efficiency, pollutant
solubility in the absorbing liquid, liquidtogas ratio, exhaust flow rate, pressure drop, and
many construction details of the absorbers such as packing, plates, liquid distributors,
entrainment separators, and corrosionresistant materials. These have been discussed in detail
in the previous lessons.
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The same three basic review approaches discussed for particle removal are applicable for gas
absorber evaluation:
1. Empirical relationships based on historical data
2. Theoretical principles based on gas chemistry and physics
3. Pilot scale test data
The theoretical relationships for gas absorption have been well defined over the many years
that gas absorption has been studied; however, they can be very complex and are dependent
on the mechanical design of the scrubber. As with particulate scrubbers, empirical
relationships and general rules of thumb are often used to evaluate absorber designs and there
is no one easy set of equations to evaluate the design of all absorbers.
All wet scrubbing systems are able to collect both particulate and gaseous pollutants emitted
from process exhaust streams. However, spray towers, plate towers, packed towers, and
movingbed scrubbers are most often used for gaseous pollutant removal. This lesson will
focus on equations used to estimate liquid flow rate, the diameter and the height of a packed
tower, and the diameter and number of plates used in a plate tower to achieve a specified
pollutant removal efficiency.
In evaluating an absorption system, the reviewer can use the equations in this lesson to
estimate critical operating parameters or component sizes, then supplement this information
with operating information on the particular scrubber type from previous lessons to complete
the review process.
Review of Design Criteria
The principal design criteria are the exhaust flow rate to the absorber, measured in units of
m
3
/min (ft
3
/min, or acfm), and the gaseous pollutant concentration, measured in units of parts
per million (ppm). The exhaust volume and pollutant concentration are set by the process
exhaust conditions. Once these criteria are known, the vendor can begin to design the
absorber for the specific application. A thorough review of the design plans should consider
the factors presented below.
Exhaust gas characteristics  average and maximum flow rates to the absorber, and
chemical properties such as dew point, corrosiveness, pH, and solubility of the pollutant to be
removed should be measured or accurately estimated.
Liquid flow  the type of scrubbing liquid and the rate at which the liquid is supplied to the
absorber. If the scrubbing liquid is to be recirculated, the pH and amount of suspended solids
(if any) should be monitored to ensure continuous reliability of the absorbing system.
Pressure drop  the pressure drop (gasside) at which the absorber will operate; the absorber
design should also include a means for monitoring the pressure drop across the system,
usually by manometers.
pH  the pH at which the absorber will operate; the pH of the absorber should be monitored
so that the acidity or alkalinity of the absorbing liquor can be properly adjusted.
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Removal of entrained liquid  mists and liquid droplets that become entrained in the
"scrubbed" exhaust stream should be removed before exiting the stack. Some type of
entrainment separator, or mist eliminator, should be included in the design.
Emission requirements  collection efficiency in terms of parts per million to meet the air
pollution regulations; collection efficiency can be high (90 to 99%) if the absorber is properly
designed. The agency review engineer can use the equations listed in this lesson to estimate
the absorber removal efficiency, liquid flow rate, tower diameter, and packing height.
However, these equations can only estimate these values, and they should not be used as the
basis to either accept or reject the design plans submitted for the permit process.
Absorption
Absorption is a process that refers to the transfer of a gaseous pollutant from a gas phase to a
liquid phase. More specifically, in air pollution control, absorption involves the removal of
objectionable gaseous pollutants from a process stream by dissolving them in a liquid.
The absorption process can be categorized as physical or chemical. Physical absorption
occurs when the absorbed compound dissolves in the liquid; chemical absorption occurs
when the absorbed compound and the liquid (or a reagent in the liquid) react. Liquids
commonly used as solvents include water, mineral oils, nonvolatile hydrocarbon oils, and
aqueous solutions.
Some common terms used when discussing the absorption process follow:
Absorbent  the liquid, usually water, into which the pollutant is absorbed.
Solute, or absorbate  the gaseous pollutant being absorbed, such as SO
2
, H
2
S, etc.
Carrier gas  the inert portion of the gas stream, usually air, from which the pollutant is
being removed.
Interface  the area where the gas phase and the absorbent contact each other.
Solubility  the capability of a particular gas to be dissolved in a given liquid.
Absorption is a masstransfer operation. In absorption, mass transfer of the gaseous pollutant
into the liquid occurs as a result of a concentration difference (of the pollutant) between the
liquid and gas phases. Absorption continues as long as a concentration difference exists
where the gaseous pollutant and liquid are not in equilibrium with each other. The
concentration difference depends on the solubility of the gaseous pollutant in the liquid.
Lesson 11
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114 2.07/98
Absorbers remove gaseous pollutants by dissolving them into a liquid called the absorbent. In
designing absorbers, optimum absorption efficiency can be achieved by doing the following:
• Providing a large interfacial contact area
• Providing for good mixing between the gas and liquid phases
• Allowing sufficient residence, or contact, time between the phases
• Choosing a liquid in which the gaseous pollutant is very soluble
Solubility
Solubility is a very important factor affecting the amount of a pollutant, or solute, that can be
absorbed. Solubility is a function of both the temperature and, to a lesser extent, the pressure
of the system. As temperature increases, the amount of gas that can be absorbed by a liquid
decreases. From the ideal gas law: as temperature increases, the volume of a gas also
increases; therefore, at the higher temperatures, less gas is absorbed due its larger volume.
Pressure affects the solubility of a gas in the opposite manner. By increasing the pressure of a
system, the amount of gas absorbed generally increases.
The solubility of a specific gas in a given liquid is defined at a designated temperature and
pressure. Table 111 presents data on the solubility of SO
2
gas in water at 101 kPa, or 1 atm,
and various temperatures. In determining solubility data, the partial pressure (in mm Hg) is
measured with the concentration (in grams of solute per 100 grams of liquid) of the solute in
the liquid. The data in Table 111 were taken from The International Critical Tables, a good
source of information concerning gasliquid systems.
Table 111. Partial pressure of SO
2
in aqueous solution,
mm Hg
Grams of
SO
2
per
100g H
2
O
10°C
20°C
30°C
40°C
50°C
60°C
70°C
0.0       
0.5 21 29 42 60 83 111 144
1.0 42 59 85 120 164 217 281
1.5 64 90 129 181 247 328 426
2.0 86 123 176 245 333 444 581
2.5 108 157 224 311 421 562 739
3.0 130 191 273 378 511 682 897
3.5 153 227 324 447 603 804 
4.0 176 264 376 518 698  
4.5 199 300 428 588 793  
5.0 223 338 482 661   
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Solubility data are obtained at equilibrium conditions. This involves putting measured
amounts of a gas and a liquid into a closed vessel and allowing it to sit for a period of time.
Eventually, the amount of gas absorbed into the liquid will equal the amount coming out of
the solution. At this point, there is no net transfer of mass to either phase, and the
concentration of the gas in both the gaseous and liquid phases remains constant. The gas
liquid system is at equilibrium.
Equilibrium conditions are important in operating an absorption tower. If equilibrium were to
be reached in the actual operation of an absorption tower, the collection efficiency would fall
to zero at that point since no net mass transfer could occur. The equilibrium concentration,
therefore, limits the amount of solute that can be removed by absorption. The most common
method of analyzing solubility data is to use an equilibrium diagram. An equilibrium
diagram is a plot of the mole fraction of solute in the liquid phase, denoted as x, versus the
mole fraction of solute in the gas phase, denoted as y. (See Appendix A for a brief refresher
on mole fractions.) Equilibrium lines for the SO
2
and water system given in Table 111 are
plotted in Figure 111. Figure 111 also illustrates the temperature dependence of the
absorption process. At a constant mole fraction of solute in the gas (y), the mole fraction of
SO
2
that can be absorbed in the liquid (x) increases as the temperature decreases.
Figure 111. Equilibrium lines for SO
2
 H
2
O systems at
various temperatures
Under certain conditions, Henry's law may also be used to express equilibrium solubility of
gasliquid systems. Henry's law is expressed as:
p = Hx (111)
Where: p = partial pressure of solute at equilibrium, Pa
x = mole fraction of solute in the liquid
H = Henry's law constant, Pa/mole fraction
Lesson 11
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116 2.07/98
From Equation 111, you can see that H has the units of pressure per concentration. Henry's
law can be written in a more useful form by dividing both sides of Equation 111 by the total
pressure, P
T
, of the system. The left side of the equation becomes the partial pressure divided
by the total pressure, which equals the mole fraction in the gas phase, y. Equation 111 now
becomes:
y = H'x (112)
Where: y = mole fraction of gas in equilibrium with liquid
H' = Henry's law constant, mole fraction in vapor per mole
fraction in liquid
x = mole fraction of the solute in equilibrium
Note: H' now depends on the total pressure.
Equation 112 is the equation of a straight line, where the slope (m) is equal to H'. Henry's
law can be used to predict solubility only when the equilibrium line is straight. Equilibrium
lines are usually straight when the solute concentrations are very dilute. In air pollution
control applications, this is usually the case. For example, an exhaust stream that contains a
1,000ppm SO
2
concentration corresponds to a mole fraction of SO
2
in the gas phase of only
0.001. Figure 112 demonstrates that the equilibrium lines are still straight at this low
concentration of SO
2
.
Figure 112. Equilibrium diagram for SO
2
 H
2
O system
for the data given in Example 111
Another restriction on using Henry's law is that it does not hold true for gases that react or
dissociate upon dissolution. If this happens, the gas no longer exists as a simple molecule. For
example, scrubbing HF or HCl gases with water causes both compounds to dissociate in
solution. In these cases, the equilibrium lines are curved rather than straight. Data on systems
that exhibit curved equilibrium lines must be obtained from experiments.
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Henry's law constants for the solubility of several gases in water are listed in Table 112. The
units of Henry's law constants are atmospheres per mole fraction. The smaller the constant,
the more soluble the gas. Table 112 demonstrates that SO
2
is approximately 100 times more
soluble in water than CO
2
is.
Table 112. Henry's law constants for
gases in H
2
O
1
Gas 20°C 30°C
N
2
80.4 92.4
CO 53.6 62.0
H
2
S 48.3 60.9
O
2
40.1 47.5
NO 26.4 31.0
CO
2
1.42 1.86
SO
2
0.014 0.016
1. Expressed in H × 10
5
, atm/mole fraction.
The following example illustrates how to develop an equilibrium diagram from solubility
data.
Example 111
Given the data in Table 113 for the solubility of SO
2
in pure water at 303°K (30°C) and
101.3 kPa (760 mm Hg), calculate y and x, plot the equilibrium diagram, and determine if
Henry's law applies.
Table 113. Equilibrium data
c
so
2
(g of SO
2
per 100
g of H
2
O)
p
so
2
(partial pressure of
SO
2
)
y
(mole fraction of
SO
2
in gas
phase)
x
(mole fraction of SO
2
in
liquid phase)
0.5 6 kPa (42 mm Hg)
1.0 11.6 kPa (85 mm
Hg)
1.5 18.3 kPa (129 mm
Hg)
2.0 24.3 kPa (176 mm
Hg)
2.5 30.0 kPa (224 mm
Hg)
3.0 36.4 kPa (273 mm
Hg)
Lesson 11
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118 2.07/98
Solution
In steps 1 and 2, convert the data for the concentration of SO
2
in water and the partial
pressure of SO
2
in air into mole fraction units.
1. Calculate the mole fraction of SO
2
in the gas phase, y, by dividing the partial
pressure of SO
2
by the total pressure of the system.
y
p
P
y
so
T
=
=
=
2
6
0 06
kPa
101.3 kPa
.
The mole fractions of SO
2
in the gas phase (y) are tabulated in Table 114.
2. Calculate the mole fraction of the solute (SO
2
) in the liquid phase, x, by
dividing the moles of SO
2
dissolved into the solution by the total moles of liquid.
x
O
=
moles of SO in solution
moles of SO in solution + moles of H
2
2 2
Where: moles of SO
2
in solution = c
SO
2
/64 g SO
2
per mole
moles of H
2
O = 100 g of H
2
O/18 g H
2
O per mole = 5.55 moles
x =
c
so
2
/
/ .
.
.
.
.
64
64 555
05
64
05
64
555
0 0014
2
c
so
+
=
+
=
The mole fractions of the solute in the liquid phase are tabulated in
Table 114.
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2.07/98 119
Table 114. Equilibrium data for Example 111
O H g 100
SO of g
2
2
SO
= c
2
2
SO
p
(kPa)
y = p/101.3
x =
c / 64
c
so
so
2
2
/ . 64 5 55 +
0.5 6.0 0.060 0.0014
1.0 11.6 0.115 0.0028
1.5 18.3 0.180 0.0042
2.0 24.3 0.239 0.0056
2.5 30.0 0.298 0.0070
3.0 36.4 0.359 0.0084
3. Plot the mole fraction of SO
2
in air, (y), against the mole fraction of SO
2
dissolved in water, (x).
Figure 112. (repeated) Equilibrium diagram for SO
2
 H
2
O
system for the data given in Example 111
The plot in Figure 112 is a straight line; therefore, Henry's law applies.
7 . 42
0042 . 0 0056 . 0
180 . 0 239 . 0
x
y
Slope ≈
−
−
= =
The slope of the line (∆y/∆x), Henry's law constant (H'), is approximately equal
to 42.7.
To test your knowledge of the preceding section, answer the questions in Part 1 of the
Review Exercise.
Lesson 11
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1110 2.07/98
Absorber Design
Theory
The first step in designing an air pollution control device is to develop a mathematical
expression describing the observed phenomenon. A valid mathematical expression
describing absorber performance makes it possible to determine the proper absorber size
for a given set of conditions, and predict how a change in operating conditions affects
absorber performance. A number of theories, or models, attempt to analytically describe
the absorption mechanism. However, in practice, none of these analytical expressions
can solely be used for design calculations. Experimental or empirical data must also be
used to obtain reliable results.
The most widely used model for describing the absorption process is the twofilm, or
doubleresistance, theory, which was first proposed by Whitman in 1923. The model
starts with the threestep mechanism of absorption previously discussed in Lesson 2.
From this mechanism, the rate of mass transfer was shown to depend on the rate of
migration of a molecule in either the gas or liquid phase. The twofilm model starts by
assuming that the gas and liquid phases are in turbulent contact with each other, separated
by an interface area where they meet. This assumption may be correct, but no
mathematical expressions adequately describe the transport of a molecule through both
phases in turbulent motion. Therefore, the model proposes that a masstransfer zone
exists to include a small portion (film) of the gas and liquid phases on either side of the
interface. The masstransfer zone is comprised of two films, a gas film and a liquid film
on their respective sides of the interface. These films are assumed to flow in a laminar, or
streamline, motion. In laminar flow, molecular motion occurs by diffusion, and can be
categorized by mathematical expressions. This concept of the twofilm theory is
illustrated in Figure 113.
Figure 113. Visualization of twofilm theory
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2.07/98 1111
According to the twofilm theory, for a molecule of substance A to be absorbed, it must
proceed through a series of five steps. The molecule must:
1. Migrate from the bulkgas phase to the gas film
2. Diffuse through the gas film
3. Diffuse across the interface
4. Diffuse through the liquid film
5. Mix into the bulk liquid
The theory assumes that complete mixing takes place in both gas and liquid bulk phases
and that the interface is at equilibrium with respect to pollutant molecules transferring in
or out of the interface. This implies that all resistance to movement occurs when the
molecule is diffusing through the gas and liquid films to get to the interface area, hence
the name doubleresistance theory. The partial pressure (concentration) in the gas phase
changes from p
AG
in the bulk gas to p
AI
at the interface.
A gas concentration is expressed by its partial pressure. Similarly, the concentration in
the liquid changes from c
AI
at the interface to c
AL
in the bulk liquid phase as mass
transfer occurs. The rate of mass transfer from one phase to the other then equals the
amount of molecule A transferred multiplied by the resistance molecule A encounters in
diffusing through the films.
N
A
= k
g
(p
AG
− p
AI
) (113)
N
A
= k
l
(c
AI
− c
AL
) (114)
Where: N
A
= rate of transfer of component A, gmol/h•m
2
(lbmole/hr•ft
2
)
k
g
= masstransfer coefficient for gas film, gmol/h•m
2
•Pa
(lbmole/hr•ft
2
•atm)
k
l
= masstransfer coefficient for liquid film,
gmol/h•m
2
•Pa (lbmole/hr•ft
2
•atm)
p
AG
= partial pressure of solute A in the gas
p
AI
= partial pressure of solute A at the interface
c
AI
= concentration of solute A at the interface
c
AL
= concentration of solute A in the liquid
Lesson 11
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1112 2.07/98
The masstransfer coefficients, k
g
and k
l
, represent the flow resistance the solute
encounters in diffusing through each film respectively (Figure 114). As you can see
from the above equations, as the value for a mass transfer coefficient increases, the
amount of pollutant transferred (per unit of time) from the gas to the liquid increases. An
analogy is the resistance electricity encounters as it flows through a circuit.
Figure 114. Resistance to motion encountered by a
molecule being absorbed
Equations 113 and 114 define the general case of absorption and are applicable to both
curved and straight equilibrium lines. In practice, Equations 113 and 114 are difficult to
use, since it is impossible to measure the interface concentrations, p
AI
and c
AI
. The
interface is a fictitious state used in the model to represent an observed phenomenon.
Using the interface concentrations in calculations can be avoided by defining the mass
transfer system at equilibrium conditions and combining the individual film resistances
into an overall resistance from gas to liquid and vice versa. If the equilibrium line is
straight, the rate of absorption is given by the equations below:
( )
N K p p
A OG AG A
= −
*
(115)
( )
N K c c
A OL A AL
= −
*
(116)
Where: N
A
= rate of transfer of component, A, gmol/h•m
2
(lbmole/hr•ft
2
)
p
A
*
= equilibrium partial pressure of solute A at operating
conditions
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c
A
*
= equilibrium concentration of solute A at operating
conditions
K
OG
= overall masstransfer coefficient based on gas
phase, gmol/h•m
2
•Pa (lbmole/hr•ft
2
•atm)
K
OL
= overall masstransfer coefficient based on liquid
phase, gmol/h•m
2
•Pa (lbmole/hr•ft
2
•atm)
p
AG
= partial pressure of solute A in the gas
c
AL
= concentration of solute A in the liquid
An important fact concerning Equations 115 and 116 is that they impose an upper limit
on the amount of solute that can be absorbed. The rate of mass transfer depends on the
concentration departure from equilibrium in either the gas (p
AG
 p
A
*
) or liquid
( c
A
*
 c
AL
) phase. The larger these concentration differences are, the greater the rate of
mass transfer becomes. If equilibrium is ever reached (p
AG
= p
a
*
and c
AL
= c
A
*
) absorption
stops and no net transfer occurs. Thus, the equilibrium concentrations determine the
maximum amount of solute that is absorbed.
At equilibrium, the overall masstransfer coefficients are related to the individual mass
transfer coefficients by the equations below.
1 1
K k
H
k
OG g l
= +
′
(117)
1 1 1
K k H
OL l g
= +
′ k
(118)
H' is Henry's law constant (the slope of the equilibrium). Equations 117 and 118 are
useful in determining which phase controls the rate of absorption. From Equation 117, if
H' is very small (which means the gas is very soluble in the liquid), then K
OG
≈ k
g
, and
absorption is said to be gasfilm controlled. The major resistance to mass transfer is in
the gas phase. Conversely, if a gas has limited solubility, H' is large, and Equation 118
reduces to K
OL
≈ k
l
. The masstransfer rate is liquidfilm controlled and depends on the
solute's dispersion rate in the liquid phase. Most systems in the air pollution control field
are gasphase controlled since the liquid is chosen so that the solute will have a high
degree of solubility.
The discussion so far has been based on the twofilm theory of absorption. Other theories
offer different descriptions of gas molecule movement from the gas to the liquid phase.
Some of the significant masstransfer models follow. For these theories, the masstransfer
rate equation does not differ from that of the twofilm method. The difference lies in the
way they predict the masstransfer coefficient. It has been shown that the rate of mass
Lesson 11
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1114 2.07/98
transfer depends on a concentration difference multiplied by a resistance factor. Like
most theories describing how something functions, absorption theories provide a basic
understanding of the process, but due to the complexities of "real life" operations, it is
difficult to apply them directly. Concentrations can easily be determined from operating
(c and p) and equilibrium ( c
A
*
and p
a
*
) data of the system. Masstransfer coefficients are
very difficult to determine from theory. Theoretically predicted values of the individual
masstransfer coefficients (k
g
and k
l
) based on the twofilm theory, do not correlate well
with observed values. Overall masstransfer coefficients are more easily determined from
experimental or operational data. However, the overall coefficients apply only when the
equilibrium line is straight.
MassTransfer Models
The following discussion on masstransfer models is taken from Diab and Maddox
(1982).
Film Theory (Whitman 1923)  First, and probably the simplest theory proposed for
mass transfer across a fluid. Details of this model are discussed in the text because it
is the most widely used.
Penetration Theory (Higbie 1935)  Assumes that the liquid surface in contact with
the gas consists of small fluid elements. After contact with the gas phase, the fluid
elements return to the bulk of the liquid and are replaced by another element from the
bulkliquid phase. The time each element spends at the surface is assumed to be the
same.
SurfaceRenewal Theory (Danckwerts 1951)  Improves on the penetration theory
by suggesting that the constant exposure time be replaced by an assumed time
distribution.
FilmPenetration Theory (Toor and Marchello 1958)  Combination of the film and
penetration theories. Assumes that a laminar film exists at the fluid interface (as in
the film theory), but further assumes that mass transfer is a nonsteadystate process.
Masstransfer coefficients are often expressed by the symbols K
OG
a, k
l
a, etc., where
"a" represents the surface area available for absorption per unit volume of the
column. This allows for easy determination of the column area required to
accomplish the desired separation. These masstransfer coefficients are developed
from experimental data and are usually reported in one of two ways: as an empirical
relationship based on a function of the liquid flow, gas flow, or slope of the
equilibrium line; or correlated in terms of a dimensionless number, usually either the
Reynolds or Schmidt Number.
Figure 115 provides an example comparing the effect of two types of packing
materials on the masstransfer coefficient for SO
2
in water (Perry 1973). Packing A
consists of oneinch rings and packing B consists of threeinch spiral tiles. As can be
seen from this example, packing A has the higher transfer coefficient and would
provide a better service in this application. Note that G' is the gas mass flow rate per
crosssectional area of tower (i.e. ft
2
). Similar figures are used extensively to compare
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2.07/98 1115
different absorbers or similar absorbers with varying operating conditions. It should
be noted that these estimated masstransfer coefficients are system and packingtype
dependent and, therefore, do not have widespread applicability. The Chemical
Engineers' Handbook gives a comprehensive listing of empirically derived
coefficients. In addition, manufacturers of packed and plate towers have graphs in
their literature similar to the one in Figure 115.
Figure 115. Comparison of overall absorption coefficient for
SO
2
in water
Source: Perry 1973.
Although the science of absorption is considerably developed, much of the work in
practical design situations is empirical in nature. The following sections will apply
the principles discussed to the design of gas absorption equipment. Emphasis has
been placed on presenting information that can be used to estimate absorber size and
liquid flow rate.
To test your knowledge of the preceding section, answer the questions in Part 2 of the
Review Exercise.
Procedures
The effectiveness of an absorption system depends on the solubility of the gaseous
contaminant. For very soluble gases, almost any type of absorber will give adequate
removal. However, for most gases, only absorbers that provide a high degree of turbulent
contact and a long residence time are capable of achieving high absorption efficiencies.
The two most common highefficiency absorbers are plate and packed towers. Both of
these devices are used extensively to control gaseous pollutants. Absorber design
calculations presented in this lesson will focus on these two devices.
Numerous procedures are used to design an absorption system. These procedures range
in difficulty and cost from shortcut "rules of thumb" equations to indepth design
procedures based on pilot plant data. Procedures presented here will be based on the
Lesson 11
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1116 2.07/98
shortcut "rules of thumb." The approaches discussed in this lesson are for single
component systems (i.e., only one gaseous pollutant).
When an absorption system is designed, certain parameters are set by either operating
conditions or regulations. The gas stream to be treated is usually the exhaust from a
process in the plant. Therefore, the volume, temperature, and composition of the gas
stream are given parameters. The outlet composition of the contaminant is set by the
emission standard which must be met. The temperature and inlet composition of the
absorbing liquid are also usually known. The main unknowns in designing the absorption
system are the following:
• The flow rate of liquid required
• The diameter of the vessel needed to accommodate the gas and liquid flow
• The height of absorber required to achieve the needed removal
Procedures for estimating these three unknowns will be discussed in the following
sections.
Material Balance
In designing or reviewing the design of an absorption control system, the first task is
to determine the flow rates and composition of each stream entering the system. From
the law of conservation of mass, the material entering a process must either
accumulate or exit. In other words, "what comes in must go out." A material balance
helps determine flow rates and compositions of individual streams. Figure 116
illustrates the material balance for a typical countercurrentflow absorber. The solute
is the "material" in the material balance.
Figure 116. Material balance for countercurrent
flow absorber
Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants
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2.07/98 1117
The following procedure to set up a material balance and determine the liquid flow
rate will focus on a countercurrent gasliquid flow pattern. This is the most common
flow pattern used to achieve highefficiency gas absorption. For concurrent flow,
only a slight modification of this procedure is required. Equations for crosscurrent
flows are very complicated since they involve a gradient pattern that changes in two
directions. They will not be presented here.
X = mole fraction of solute in pure liquid
Y = mole fraction of solute in inert gas
L
m
= liquid molar flow rate, gmol/h (lbmole/hr)
G
m
= gas molar flow rate, gmol/h (lbmole/hr)
Engineering design work is usually done on a solutefree basis (X, Y) which means
we ignore the amount of pollutant being transferred from the gas to the liquid. This
makes the material balance calculations easier because we do not have to continually
account for the change in mass of the flue gas as it is losing pollutant, or of the liquid
as it is gaining pollutant. The solutefree basis is defined in Equations 119 and
1110.
Y
y
y
=
− 1
(119)
X
x
x
=
− 1
(1110)
In air pollution control systems, the percent of pollutant transferred from the gas to
the liquid, y and x, is generally small compared to the flow of gas or liquid.
Therefore, from Equations 119 and 1110, Y ≈ y and X ≈ x. In this lesson, it is
assumed that X and Y are always equal to x and y respectively. If y (inlet gas
concentration) ever becomes larger than a few percent by volume, this assumption is
invalid and will cause errors in the material balance calculations.
An overall mass balance across the absorber in Figure 117 yields Equation
1111.
lbmole in = lbmole out (1111)
G
m
(in) + L
m
(in) = G
m
(out) + L
m
(out)
For convenience, the top of the absorber is labeled as point 2 and the bottom as point
1. This changes Equation 1111 to Equation 1112.
G
m1
+ L
m2
= G
m2
+ L
m1 (1112)
Lesson 11
___________________________________________________________________________________
1118 2.07/98
In this same manner, a material balance for the contaminant to be removed is
obtained as expressed in Equation 1113.
G
m1
Y
1
+ L
m2
X
2
= G
m2
Y
2
+ L
m1
X
1 (1113)
Equation 1113 can be simplified by assuming that as the gas and liquid streams flow
through the absorber, their total mass does not change appreciably (i.e., G
m1
= G
m2
and L
m1
= L
m2
). This is justifiable for most air pollution control systems since the
mass flow rate of pollutant is very small compared to the liquid and gas mass flow
rates. For example, a 10,000cfm exhaust stream containing 1,000 ppm SO
2
would be
only 0.1% SO
2
by volume, or 1.0 cfm. If the scrubber were 100% efficient, the gas
mass flow rate would change from 10,000 cfm at G
m1
to 9999 cfm at G
m2
. The
transfer of a quantity this small is negligible in an overall material balance.
Therefore, Equation 1113 can be reduced to Equation 1114.
G
m
(Y
1
 Y
2
) = L
m
(X
1
− X
2
) (1114)
By rearranging terms, Equation 1114 becomes Equation 1115.
( ) Y Y
L
G
X X
m
m
1 2 1 2
− = − (1115)
Equation 1115 is the equation of a straight line. When this line is plotted on an
equilibrium diagram, it is referred to as an operating line. This line defines operating
conditions within the absorber: what is going in and what is coming out. An
equilibrium diagram with a typical operating line plotted on it is shown in Figure 11
7. The slope of the operating line is the liquid mass flow rate divided by the gas mass
flow rate, which is the liquidtogas ratio, or L
m
/G
m
. The liquidtogas ratio is used
extensively when describing or comparing absorption systems. Determining the
liquidtogas ratio is discussed in the next section.
Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants
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2.07/98 1119
Figure 117. Typical operating line diagram
Determining the Liquid Requirement
In the design of most absorption columns, the quantity of exhaust gas to be treated
(G
m
) and the inlet solute (pollutant) concentration (Y
1
) are set by process conditions.
Minimum acceptable standards specify the outlet pollutant concentration (Y
2
). The
composition of the liquid flowing into the absorber (X
2
) is also generally known or
can be assumed to be zero if it is not recycled. By plotting this data on an equilibrium
diagram, the minimum liquid flow rate required to achieve the required outlet
pollutant concentration (Y
2
) can be determined.
Lesson 11
___________________________________________________________________________________
1120 2.07/98
Figure 118(a) is a typical equilibrium diagram with operating points plotted for a
countercurrentflow absorber. Point A (X
2
, Y
2
) represents the concentration of
pollutants in the liquid inlet and the gas outlet at the top of the tower. At the
minimum liquid rate, the inlet gas concentration of solute (Y
1
) is in equilibrium with
the outlet liquid concentration of solute (X
max
). The liquid leaving the absorber is
saturated with solute and can no longer dissolve any more solute unless additional
liquid is added. This condition is represented by point B on the equilibrium curve.
In Figure 118(b), the slope of the line drawn between point A and point B represents
the operating conditions at the minimum flow rate. Note how the driving force
decreases to zero at point B. The slope of line AB is (L
m
/G
m
)min, and may be
determined graphically or from the equation for a straight line. By knowing the slope
of the minimum operating line, the minimum liquid rate can easily be determined by
substituting in the known gas flow rate. This procedure is illustrated in Example
112.
Determining the minimum liquid flow rate, (L
m
/G
m
)min, is important since absorber
operation is usually specified as some factor of it. Generally, liquid flow rates are
specified at 25 to 100% greater than the required minimum. Typical absorber
operation would be 50% greater than the minimum liquid flow rate (i.e., 1.5 times the
minimum liquidtogas ratio). Setting the liquid rate in this way assumes that the gas
flow rate set by the process does not change appreciably. Line AC in Figure 118(c)
is drawn at a slope of 1.5 times the minimum L
m
/G
m
. Line AC is referred to as the
actual operating line since it describes absorber operating conditions.
Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants
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2.07/98 1121
Figure 118. Graphic determination of liquid flow rate
The following example problem illustrates how to compute the minimum liquid rate
required to achieve a desired removal efficiency.
Lesson 11
___________________________________________________________________________________
1122 2.07/98
Example 112
Using the data and results from Example 111, compute the minimum liquid rate of
pure water required to remove 90% of the SO
2
from a gas stream of 84.9 m
3
/min
(3,000 acfm) containing 3% SO
2
by volume. The temperature is 293°K and the
pressure is 101.3 kPa.
Solution
1. Determine the mole fractions of the pollutants in the gas phase, Y
1
and Y
2
.
Then, sketch and label the drawing of the system as shown in Figure 119.
Y
1
= 3% SO
2
by volume
= 0.03 mole fraction of SO
2
Y
2
= 90% reduction of SO
2
from inlet concentration
= (10%) (Y
1
)
= (0.10) (0.03)
= 0.003 mole fraction of SO
2
Figure 119. Material balance for Example 112
2. Determine the mole fraction of SO
2
in the liquid leaving the absorber to
achieve the required removal efficiency. At the minimum liquid flow rate, the
gas mole fraction of pollutants going into the absorber, Y
1
, will be in equilibrium
with the liquid mole fraction of pollutants leaving the absorber, X
1
, (the liquid
will be saturated with SO
2
). At equilibrium:
Y H
1 1
= ′ X
Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants
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2.07/98 1123
and Henry’s law constant from Example 111 is
′ = H 42 7 .
mole fraction of SO in air
mole fraction of SO in water
2
2
X
Y
H
1
1
0 03
42 7
0 000703
=
′
=
=
.
.
.
3. Calculate the minimum liquidtogas ratio using Equation 1115.
( ) Y Y
L
G
X X
m
m
1 2 1 2
− = −
Therefore,
air of mol  g
water of mol  g
4 . 38
0 000703 . 0
003 . 0 03 . 0
G
L
X X
Y Y
G
L
m
m
2 1
2 1
m
m
=
−
−
=
−
−
=
4. Convert the exhaust stream flow rate, Q
G
, to the exhaust gas molar flow
rate, G
m
(from units of m
3
/min to units of gmole/min). At 0°C and 101.3 kPa,
there are 0.0224 m
3
/gmole for an ideal gas.
First, convert the volume of gas from 0 to 20°C (from 273 to 293°K). At 20°C:
0 0224 0 024 . / . / m g  mol
293
273
m g  mol of air
3 3

\

.

=
Therefore,
G Q
m G
=

\

.

g  mol of air
0.024 m
3
1
Given: Q
G
= 89.4 m
3
/min
Lesson 11
___________________________________________________________________________________
1124 2.07/98
G
m
=

\

.

=
89 4
3 538
.
,
m / min
1 g  mol
0.024 m
g  mol of air / min
3
3
5. Calculate the minimum liquid flow rate, L
min
. The minimum liquidtogas
ratio was calculated in step 3.
L
G
m
m

\

.
 =
min
. 38 4
g  mol of water
g  mol of air
Therefore,
( ) ( ) L G
m m min
. = 38 4
From step 4: G
m
= 3,538 gmol of air/min
( )
kg/min 448 , 2
mol  kg
kg 18
min
mol  kg
136.0 =
: units mass to Converting
min
water of mol  kg
0 . 136
min
water of mol  g
000 , 136
air of mol  g
water of mol  g
4 . 38
min
air of mol  g
538 , 3 L
min m
=


.

\


.

\

=
=


.

\


.

\

=
6. Figure 1110 illustrates the graphical solution for this problem. To obtain the
actual operating line, multiply the minimum operating line by 1.5.
AC = 1.5 AB
AC = 1.5 (38.4)
= 57.6
Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants
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2.07/98 1125
Figure 1110. Graphical solution to Example 112
To test your knowledge of the preceding section, answer the questions in Part 3 of the
Review Exercise and work problem 1.
Sizing a Packed Tower
Packed Tower Diameter
The main parameter affecting the size of a packed column is the gas velocity at which
liquid droplets become entrained in the exiting gas stream. Consider a packed column
operating at set gas and liquid flow rates. By decreasing the diameter of the column, the
gas flow rate (m/s or ft/sec) through the column will increase. If the gas flow rate through
the column is gradually increased (by using smaller and smaller diameter columns), a
point will be reached where the liquid flowing down over the packing begins to be held
in the void spaces between the packing. This gastoliquid ratio is termed the loading
point. The pressure drop of the column begins to increase and the degree of mixing
between the phases decreases. A further increase in gas velocity will cause the liquid to
completely fill the void spaces in the packing. The liquid forms a layer over the top of the
packing and no more liquid can flow down through the tower. The pressure drop
increases substantially, and mixing between the phases is minimal. This condition is
referred to as flooding, and the gas velocity at which it occurs is the flooding velocity.
Using an extremely largediameter tower would eliminate this problem. However, as the
diameter increases, the cost of the tower increases.
Normal practice is to size a packed column diameter to operate at a certain percent of the
flooding velocity. A typical operating range for the gas velocity through the columns is
50 to 75% of the flooding velocity. It is assumed that, by operating in this range, the gas
velocity will also be below the loading point.
Lesson 11
___________________________________________________________________________________
1126 2.07/98
A common and relatively simple procedure for estimating flooding velocity (thus, setting
a minimum column diameter) is to use a generalized flooding and pressure drop
correlation. One version of the flooding and pressure drop relationship for a packed tower
is in the Sherwood correlation, shown in Figure 1111 (Calvert et al. 1972). Figure 11
11, was developed from experimental data, knowing the physical properties of the gas
and liquid streams and tower packing characteristics. In Figure 1111, the terms and
units must be used as presented since the relationships are based on empirical data. The
“X” axis (or abscissa) is a function of the physical properties of the gas and liquid
streams. The “Y” axis (ordinate), is also a function of the gas and liquid properties as
well as the packing material utilized. The graph is used to predict what conditions will
cause flooding to occur. Since flooding is an unacceptable operating condition, this sets
a minimum tower diameter for a given set of gas/liquid conditions. Knowing minimum
unacceptable diameter, a larger, operating diameter can be specified.
Figure 1111. Generalized flooding and pressure drop correlation
Source: Calvert et al. 1972.
Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants
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2.07/98 1127
The procedure to determine the tower diameter is given below.
1. Calculate the value of the abscissa.
Abscissa =
L
G

\

.


\

.

ρ
ρ
g
l
0.5
(1116)
Where: L and G = mass flow rates (any consistent set of units may be
used as long as the term is dimensionless)
ρ
g
= density of the gas stream
ρ
l
= density of the absorbing liquid
2. From the point calculated in Equation 1116, proceed up the graph to the
flooding line and read the ordinate, ε.
3. Rearrange the equation of the ordinate and solve for G'.
( )( )( )( )
′ =
G
g
F
g c
l
ε ρ ρ
φµ
1
0.2
0.5
(1117)
Where: G' = mass flow rate of gas per unit crosssectional area of
column, g/s•m
2
(lb/sec•ft
2
)
ρ
g
= density of the gas stream, kg/m
3
(lb/ft
3
)
ρ
l
= density of the absorbing liquid, kg/m
3
(lb/ft
3
)
g
c
= gravitational constant, 9.82 m/s
2
(32.2 ft/sec
2
)
F = packing factor given in Table 115 for different types of
packing (Bhatia 1977)
φ = ratio of specific gravity of the scrubbing liquid to that of
water
µ
l
= viscosity of liquid
4. Calculate G' at operating conditions. G' at operating conditions is a fraction of G'
at flooding conditions.
( )( )
′ = ′ G f G
operating flooding
(1118)
Where: f = the percent of flooding velocity, usually 50 to 75%
Lesson 11
___________________________________________________________________________________
1128 2.07/98
5. Calculate the crosssectional area of column A from Equation 1119.
A
G
G
operating
=
′
(1119)
6. Calculate the diameter of the column from Equation 1120.
d
t
=

\

.

4A
π
0.5
(1120)
= 1.13 A
0.5
Table 115. Packing data
1
Packing Size
(in.)
Weight
(lb/ft
2
)
Surface
area, a
(ft
2
/ft
3
packing
volume)
Void
fraction
(%)
Packing factor,
F
(ft
2
/ft
3
)
Raschig
rings
(ceramic
and
porcelain)
1/2
1
1 1/2
2
3
52
44
42
38
34
114
58
36
28
19
65
70
72
75
77
580
155
95
65
37
Raschig
rings
(steel)
1/2 × 1/32
1 × 1/32
2 × 1/16
77
40
38
128
63
31
84
92
92
300
115
57
Berl
saddles
(ceramic
and
porcelain)
1/4
1/2
1
2
55
54
48
38
274
155
79
32
63
64
68
75
900
240
110
45
Intalox
saddles
(ceramic)
1/4
1/2
1
2
54
45
44
42
300
190
78
36
75
78
77
79
725
200
98
40
Intalox
saddles
(plastic)
1
2
3
6.00
3.75
3.25
63
33
27
91
93
94
30
20
15
Pall rings
(plastic)
5/8
1
2
7.0
5.5
4.5
104
63
31
87
90
92
97
52
25
Continued on next page
Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants
___________________________________________________________________________________
2.07/98 1129
Table 115. (continued)
Packing data
1
Pall rings
(metal)
5/8 × 0.018
thick
1 1/2 × .03
thick
38
24
104
39
93
95
73
28
Tellerettes 1
2
3
7.5
3.9
5.0
55
38
30
87
93
92
40
20
15
1. Note: Data for guide purposes only.
Source: Bhatia 1977.
Example 113
This example illustrates the use of Figure 1111 for computing the minimum
allowable diameter for a packed tower. For the scrubber in Example 112, determine
the column diameter if the operating liquid rate is 1.5 times the minimum. The gas
velocity should be no greater than 75% of the flooding velocity, and the packing
material is twoinch ceramic Intalox saddles.
Solution
1. Determine the actual gas and liquid flow rates for the system. For Example
112, the gas molar flow rate in the absorber, G
m
, was 3,538 gmol/min and the
minimum liquid flow rate, L
min
, was 2,448 kg/min. The actual liquid flow rate in
the absorber should be 1.5 times the minimum flow rate:
L = L
min
× 1.5
= (2,448 kg/min) (1.5)
= 3,672 kg/min
Assuming the molecular weight of the exhaust gas is 29 kg/mol, convert the gas
molar flow rate (G
m
) to mass flow rate (G).
G = G
m
× (29 kg/kgmol)
G = (3,538 gmol/min)(29 kg/kgmol)
= (3.538 kgmol/min)(29 kg/kgmol)
= 102.6 kg/min
2. Using Equation 1116, calculate the abscissa for Figure 1111.
Abscissa
L
G
g
l
=

\

.


\

.

ρ
ρ
0.5
Lesson 11
___________________________________________________________________________________
1130 2.07/98
The densities of air and water at 30°C are:
ρ
g
= 1.17 kg/m
3
ρ
l
= 1,000 kg/m
3
Abscissa =
3,672
102.6

\

.


\

.

117
1 000
0.5
.
,
3. Using Figure 1112, with the abscissa of 1.22, move up to the flooding line
and read the value of ε on the ordinate.
ε = 0.019
Figure 1112. Generalized flooding and pressure drop correlation
for Example 113
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2.07/98 1131
4. Calculate the superficial flooding velocity, G' using Equation
1117. The superficial flooding velocity is the flow rate per unit of cross
sectional area of the tower.
( )( )( )( )
′ =
G
g
F
g l c
l
ε ρ ρ
φµ
0.2
0.5
Given: ρ
g
= 1.17 kg/m
3
, density of air at 30°C
ρ
l
= 1,000 kg/m
3
, density of water at 30°C
g
c
= 9.82 m/s
2
, the gravitational constant
F = 40 ft
2
/ft
3
(131 m
2
/m
3
), the packing factor for two
inch ceramic Intalox saddles (see Table 115)
φ = 1.0, the ratio of specific gravity of the scrubbing
liquid(water) to that of water
µ
l
= 0.0008 Pa•s, the viscosity of liquid
From step 3: ε = 0.019
( )( )( )( )
( )( )( )
′ =
= •
G
s
0 019 117 1000 9 82
1 131 0 0008
2 63
0.2
0.5
. . .
.
. kg / m at flooding
2
5. Calculate the superficial gas velocity at operating conditions
(G'
operating
) using Equation 1118.
G′
operating
= (f)(G′
flooding
)
Where: f = 75%
From step 4: G'
flooding
= 2.63 kg/s•m
2
G'
operating
= (0.75)(2.63 kg/s •m
2
)
= 1.97 kg/s•m
2
Lesson 11
___________________________________________________________________________________
1132 2.07/98
6. Calculate the crosssectional area of the packed tower using Equation 1119.
A
G
G
operating
=
′
From step 1: G = 102.6 kg/min
From step 5: G'
operating
= 1.97 kg/s•m
2
( )( )
A =
•
=
102 6 1
197
087
.
.
.
kg / min min / 60 sec
kg / s m
m
2
2
7. Calculate the tower diameter using Equation 1120.
d
A
t
=

\

.

4
0 5
π
.
Where: π = 3.14
From step 6: A = 0.87 m
2
( )
d
t
=
=
≈
4 0 87
314
105
0 5
.
.
.
.
m
1.1 m
8. Use Figure 1111 to estimate the pressure drop across the absorber, ∆p, once
the superficial gas velocity for operating conditions has been set. First, plug
G'
operating
back into Equation 1117 and rearrange the equation to get the ordinate,
ε.
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2.07/98 1133
( )
( )
( )
( )
( )( )( )
ε
φ µ
ρ ρ
ε
=
′
=
• •
=
G F
g
m
l
g l c
2 0.2
2
3
0.2
197 1 131 0 0008
117 1 000 9 82
0 0106
. / .
. , .
.
kg / s m m Pa s
kg / m kg / m m/ s
2 2
3 3 2
The ordinate equals 0.0106 and the abscissa equals 1.22. Then from Figure 11
13, read ∆p. The pressure drop equals 0.0416 m of water/m of packing.
Figure 1113. Generalized flooding and pressure drop correlation for
Example 113
Packed Tower Height
The height of a packed column refers to the depth of packing material needed to
accomplish the required removal efficiency. The more difficult the separation, the larger
the packing height required. For example, a much larger packing height would be
required to remove SO
2
than to remove chlorine (Cl) from an exhaust stream using water
as the absorbent because Cl is more soluble in water than SO
2
is. Determining the proper
height of packing is important since it affects both the rate and efficiency of absorption.
Lesson 11
___________________________________________________________________________________
1134 2.07/98
A number of theoretical equations are used to predict the required packing height. These
equations are based on diffusion principles. Depending on which phase is controlling the
absorption process, either Equation 115 or 116 is used as the starting point to derive an
equation to predict column height. A material balance is then set up over a small
differential section (height) of the column.
The general form of the design equation for a gasphase controlled resistance is given in
Equation 1121.
( )( )
Z
G
K aP
dY
Y Y Y
OG
Y
Y
=
′
− −
∫
2
1
1 *
(1121)
Where: Z = height of packing, m
G' = mass flow rate of gas per unit crosssectional area of
column, g/s•m
2
K
OG
= overall masstransfer coefficient based on the gas
phase, gmol/h•m
2
•Pa
a = interfacial contact area, m
2
P = pressure of the system, kPa
Y
1
= inlet gas pollutant concentration
Y
2
= outlet gas pollutant concentration
Y* = pollutant concentration in gas at equilibrium
In analyzing Equation 1121, the term G'/K
OG
aP has the dimension of meters and is
defined as the height of a transfer unit. The term inside the integral is dimensionless and
represents the number of transfer units needed to make up the total packing height. Using
the concept of transfer units, Equation 1121 can be simplified to:
Z = HTU× NTU (1122)
Where: Z = height of packing, m
HTU = height of a transfer unit, m
NTU = number of transfer units
The concept of a transfer unit comes from the assumptions used in deriving Equation 11
21. These assumptions are: (1) that the absorption process is carried out in a series of
contacts, or stages, and (2) that the streams leaving these stages are in equilibrium with
each other. The stages can be visualized as the height of an individual transfer unit and
the total tower height is equal to the number of transfer units times the height of each
unit. Plate towers operate in this manner where they have discrete contact sections.
Although a packed column operates as one continuous separation (differential contactor)
process, in design terminology it is treated as discrete sections (transfer units) in order to
perform a mass balance around a small subsection of the tower. The number and the
height of a transfer unit are based on either the gas or the liquid phase. Equation 1122
now becomes:
Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants
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2.07/98 1135
Z = N
OG
H
OG
= N
OL
H
OL
(1123)
Where: Z = height of packing, m
N
OG
= number of transfer units based on an overall gasfilm
coefficient, K
OG
N
OL
= number of transfer units based on an overall liquid
film coefficient, K
OL
H
OG
= height of a transfer unit based on an overall gasfilm
coefficient, m
H
OL
= height of a transfer unit based on an overall liquidfilm
coefficient, m
The number of transfer units, NTU, can be obtained experimentally or calculated from a
variety of methods. For the case where the solute concentration is very low and the
equilibrium line is straight, Equation 1124 can be used to determine the number of
transfer units (N
OG
) based on the gasphase resistance. Equation 1124 can be derived
from the integral portion of Equation 1121.
N
Y mX
Y mX
mG
L
mG
L
mG
L
OG
m
m
m
m
m
m
=
−
−

\

.
 −

\

.
 +
−
ln
1 2
2 2
1
1
(1124)
Where: N
OG
= number of transfer units based on an overall gasfilm
coefficient, K
OG
Y
1
= mole fraction of solute in entering gas
Y
2
= mole fraction of solute in exiting gas
m = slope of equilibrium line
X
2
= mole fraction of solute entering the column
G
m
= molar flow rate of gas, kgmol/h
L
m
= molar flow rate of liquid, kgmol/h
Equation 1124 may be solved directly or graphically by using the Colburn diagram,
which is presented in Figure 1113. The Colburn diagram is a plot of the N
OG
versus
ln[Y
1
− mX
2
/Y
2
− mX
2
] at various values of (mG
m
/L
m
). The term (mG
m
/L
m
) is referred
to as the absorption factor. In using Figure 1114, first compute the value of
[Y
1
− mX
2
/Y
2
− mX
2
]; next read up the graph to the line corresponding to (mG
m
/L
m
), and
then read across to obtain the N
OG
.
Lesson 11
___________________________________________________________________________________
1136 2.07/98
Figure 1114. Colburn diagram
Source: Perry 1973.
Equation 1124 can be further simplified for situations where a chemical reaction occurs
or if the solute is extremely soluble. In these cases, the solute exhibits almost no partial
pressure; therefore, the slope of the equilibrium line approaches zero (m → 0). For either
of these cases, Equation 1124 reduces to Equation 1125.
N
Y
Y
OG
= ln
1
2
(1125)
The number of transfer units depends only on the inlet and outlet concentration of the
solute. For example, if the conditions of Equation 1125 are met, achieving 90% removal
of any pollutant requires 2.3 transfer units. Equation 1125 applies only when the
equilibrium line is straight and the slope approaches zero (for very soluble or reactive
gases).
Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants
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2.07/98 1137
Values for the height of a transfer unit used in designing absorption systems are usually
obtained from experimental data. To ensure greatest accuracy, vendors of absorption
equipment normally perform pilot plant studies to determine the HTU. For common
absorption systems, such as NH
3
and water, manufacturers have developed graphs for
estimating HTU. These graphs do not provide the accuracy of pilot plant data, but are less
expensive and easier to use. Figure 1115 gives a typical example of these graphs for an
ammonia and water system. In this figure, the superficial liquid flow rate is plotted versus
the H
OG
with the superficial gas rate as a parameter. For a given liquid flow rate, the
height of a transfer unit for the 1inch Tellerettes is less than that for the 11/2 inch
Raschig rings. Therefore, a system would need less Tellerette packing to accomplish the
same removal. For this example the Tellerettes would be more efficient. It is also
common to plot gas rate versus the H
OG
and have the liquid rate as a parameter.
Additional information on other gasliquid systems can be found in Chemical Engineers'
Handbook (Perry 1973). In applying these data, process conditions must be similar to
conditions at which the HTU was measured.
Figure 1115. Column packing comparison for ammonia
and water system
Lesson 11
___________________________________________________________________________________
1138 2.07/98
When no experimental data are available, or if only a preliminary estimate of absorber
efficiency is needed, generalized correlations are available to predict the height of a
transfer unit. The correlations for predicting the H
OG
or the H
OL
are empirical in nature
and are a function of:
1. Type of packing
2. Liquid and gas flow rates
3. Concentration and solubility of the pollutant
4. Liquid properties
5. System temperature
These correlations can be found in engineering texts such as Chemical Engineers'
Handbook (Perry 1973), Wet Scrubber System Study, Volume I (Calvert et al. 1972), or
Mass Transfer Operations (Treybal 1968). For most applications, the height of a transfer
unit ranges between 0.3 and 1.2 m (1 to 4 ft) (Calvert 1977). As a rough estimate, 0.6 m
(2.0 ft) can be used.
Example 114
From pilot plant studies of the absorption system in Example 112 it was determined
that the H
OG
for the SO
2
water system is 0.829 m (2.72 ft). Calculate the total height
of packing required to achieve 90% removal. The following data were taken from the
previous examples.
m, Henry’s law constant for the
equilibrium diagram for SO
2
and
water system (see Example 111).
42 7 .
kg  mol of water
kg  mol of air
G
m
, molar flow rate of gas 3.5 kgmol/min
L
m
, molar flow rate of liquid 3,672 kg/min × kgmol/18 kg
= 204 kgmol/min
X
2
, mole fraction of solute in entering
liquid
0 (no recycle liquid)
Y
1
, mole fraction of solute in entering
gas
0.03
Y
2
, mole fraction of solute in existing gas 0.003
Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants
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2.07/98 1139
Solution
1. Calculate the number of transfer units, N
OG
, using Equation
1124.
( )( ) ( )( )
( )( )
N
Y mX
Y mX
mG
L
mG
L
mG
L
N
OG
m
m
m
m
m
m
OG
=
−
−

\

.
 −

\

.
 +
−
=

\

.

−

\

.
 +
−
=
ln
ln
.
.
. . . .
. .
.
1 2
2 2
1
1
0 03
0 003
1
42 7 35
204
42 7 35
204
1
42 7 35
204
504
2. Calculate the total packing height, Z, using Equation 1123.
Z = H
OG
× N
OG
Given: H
OG
= 0.829 m, height of a transfer unit
From step 1: N
OG
= 5.04 m
Z = (0.829 m)(5.04)
= 4.18 m of packing height
To test your knowledge of the preceding section, answer the questions in Part 4 of the
Review Exercise and work problem 2.
Sizing a Plate Tower
Another scrubber used extensively for gas absorption is a plate tower. Here, absorption
occurs on each plate, or stage. These are commonly referred to as discrete stages, or steps.
The following discussion presents a simplified method for sizing or reviewing the design
plans of a plate tower. The method for determining the liquid flow rate in the plate tower is
the same as previously discussed. Methods for estimating the diameter of a plate tower and
the theoretical number of plates follow.
Plate Tower Diameter
The minimum diameter of a singlepass plate tower is determined by using the gas
velocity through the tower. If the gas velocity is too fast, liquid droplets are entrained,
Lesson 11
___________________________________________________________________________________
1140 2.07/98
causing a condition known as priming. Priming occurs when the gas velocity through the
tower is so fast that it causes liquid on one tray to foam and then rise to the tray above.
Priming reduces absorber efficiency by inhibiting gas and liquid contact. For the purpose
of determining tower diameter, priming in a plate tower is analogous to the flooding point
in a packed tower. It determines the minimum acceptable diameter. The actual
diameter should be larger.
The smallest allowable diameter for a plate tower is expressed in Equation 1126.
( )
d Q
t G g
= ψ ρ
0.5
(1126)
Where: Q
G
= volumetric gas flow, m
3
/h
ψ = empirical correlation, m
0.25
h
0.5
/kg
0.25
ρ
g
= gas density, kg/m
3
The term ψ is an empirical correlation and is a function of both the tray spacing and the
densities of the gas and liquid streams. Values for ψ in Table 116 are for a tray spacing
of 61 cm (24 in.) and a liquid specific gravity of 1.05 (Calvert et al. 1972). If the specific
gravity of a liquid varies significantly from 1.05, the values for ψ in Table 116 cannot
be used.
Table 116. Empirical constants for Equation 1126
Tray Metric Ψ
a
English Ψ
b
Bubble
cap
0.0162 0.1386
Sieve 0.0140 0.1198
Valve 0.0125 0.1069
a. Metric Ψ is expressed in m
0.25
h
0.5
/kg
0.25
, for use with Q
G
expressed in
m
3
/h, and ρ
g
expressed in kg/m
3
.
b. English Ψ is expressed in ft
0.25
min
0.5
/lb
0.25
, for use with Q
G
in cfm, and ρ
g
expressed in lb/ft
3
.
Source: Calvert et al. 1972.
Depending on operating conditions, trays are spaced with a minimum distance between
plates to allow the gas and liquid phases to separate before reaching the plate above.
Trays should be spaced to allow for easy maintenance and cleaning. Trays are normally
spaced 45 to 70 cm (18 to 28 in.) apart. In using Table 116 for a tray spacing different
from 61 cm, a correction factor must be used. Figure 1116 is used to determine the
correction factor, which is multiplied by the estimated diameter. Example 115 illustrates
how to estimate the minimum diameter of a plate tower.
Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants
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2.07/98 1141
Figure 1116. Tray spacing correction factor
Source: Calvert et al. 1972.
Example 115
For the conditions described in Example 112, determine the minimum acceptable
diameter if the scrubber is a bubblecap tray tower. The trays are spaced 0.53 m (21
in.) apart.
Solution
To determine the minimum acceptable diameter of the plate tower, we will use
Equation 1126:
( )
d Q
t G g
= ψ ρ
0.5
From Example 112, the following information is obtained:
Q
G
, gas flow rate = 84.9 m
3
/min
ρ
g
, gas density = 1.17 kg/m
3
Lesson 11
___________________________________________________________________________________
1142 2.07/98
1. Convert the gas flow rate, Q
G
, to units of m
3
/h.
Q
G
= (84.9 m
3
/min) (60 min/hr)
= 5,094 m
3
/h
2. Determine the empirical constant, ψ. From Table 116, the value for ψ is
0.0162 m
0.25
h
0.5
/kg
0.25
.
3. Calculate the minimum diameter, d
t
, of the plate tower using Equation 1126.
( )
d = Q
t
G
ψ ρ
g
0.5
Given: ρ
g
= 1.17 kg/m
3
From step 1: Q
G
= 5,094 m
3
/h
From step 2: ψ = 0.0162 m
0.25
h
0.5
/kg
0.25
( )
( )
[ ]
d
t
=
=
0 0162 5 094 117
12
0.5
. , .
.
m
4. Correct the diameter using Figure 1116. The tray spacing for each tray is
0.53 m but the values in Table 116 are for a tray spacing of 0.61 m. Read a
correction factor of 1.05.
Figure 1117. Tray spacing correction factor for
Example 115
Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants
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2.07/98 1143
5. Adjust the minimum plate tower diameter value by using the correction
factor.
( )
( )
Adjusted d from step 3 factor
d m 1.05
m
t
t
= ×
=
=
d correction
t
12
126
.
.
Note: The value of 1.26 m is the minimum estimated tower diameter based on
priming conditions. In practice, a larger diameter based on economic conditions
is usually chosen.
Number of Theoretical Plates
Several methods are used to determine the number of ideal plates, or trays, required for a
given removal efficiency. These methods, however, can become quite complicated. One
method used is a graphical technique. The number of ideal plates is obtained by drawing
"steps" on an operating diagram. This procedure is illustrated in Figure 1118. This
method can be rather time consuming, and inaccuracies can result at both ends of the
graph.
Figure 1118. Graphic determination of the number of
theoretical plates
Lesson 11
___________________________________________________________________________________
1144 2.07/98
Equation 1127 is a simplified method used to estimate the number of plates. This
equation can only be used if both the equilibrium and operating lines for the system are
straight. This is a valid assumption for most air pollution control systems. This equation,
taken from Sherwood and Pigford (1952), is derived in the same manner as Equation 11
24 for computing the N
OG
of a packed tower. The difference is that Equation 1127 is
based on a stepwise solution instead of a continuous contactor, as is the packed tower.
(Note: This derivation is referred to as the height equivalent to a theoretical plate, or
HETP instead of HTU.)
N
Y mX
Y mX
mG
L
mG
L
L
mG
p
m
m
m
m
m
m
=
−
−

\

.
 −

\

.
 +

\

.

ln
ln
1 2
2 2
1
(1127)
This equation is used to predict the number of theoretical plates required to achieve a
given removal efficiency. The operating conditions for a theoretical plate assume that the
gas and liquid streams leaving the plate are in equilibrium with each other. This ideal
condition is never achieved in practice. A larger number of actual trays are required to
compensate for this decreased tray efficiency.
Three types of efficiencies are used to describe absorption efficiency for a plate tower:
1. An overall efficiency, which is concerned with the entire column
2. Murphree efficiency, which is applicable with a single plate
3. Local efficiency, which pertains to a specific location on a plate
A number of methods are available to predict these plate efficiencies. These methods are
complex, and values predicted by two different methods for a given system can vary by
as much as 80% (Zenz 1972).
The simplest of tray efficiency concepts, the overall efficiency, is the ratio of the number
of theoretical plates to the number of actual plates. Since overall tray efficiency is an
oversimplification of the process, reliable values are difficult to obtain. For a rough
estimate, overall tray efficiencies for absorbers operating with lowviscosity liquid
normally fall in a 65 to 80% range (Zenz 1972).
Example 116
Calculate the number of theoretical plates required for the scrubber in Example 115
using the same conditions as those in Example 114. Estimate the total height of the
column if the trays are spaced at 0.53m intervals, and assume an overall tray
efficiency of 70%.
Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants
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2.07/98 1145
Solution
1. Estimate the number of theoretical plates by using Equation 1127.
N
Y mX
Y mX
mG
L
mG
L
L
mG
p
m
m
m
m
m
m
=
−
−

\

.
 −

\

.
 +

\

.

ln
ln
1 2
2 2
1
From Example 115 and the previous examples, the following data are obtained:
m = 42.7, Henry’s law equilibrium constant
Y
1
, (inlet gas) = 0.03 mole fraction
Y
2
, (outlet gas) = 0.003 mole fraction
X
2
, (inlet liquid) = 0.0 mole fraction
L
m
= 204 kgmol/min, the molar flow rate of
liquid
G
m
= 3.5 kgmol/min, the molar flow rate of gas
( )( ) ( )( )
( )( )
N
p
=
−
−

\

.

−

\

.
 +

\

.

=
ln
.
.
. . . .
ln
. .
.
0 03 0
0 003 0
1
42 7 35
204
42 7 35
204
204
42 7 35
3 94 theoretical plates
2. Estimate the actual number of plates assuming that the overall efficiency of
each plate is 70%.
Actual plates =
estimated plates
70%
tes =
3.94
0.70
Actual pla
= 5.6 or 6 plates (since you can’t
have a fraction of a plate)
3. Estimate the height of the tower, Z, by using the following equation:
Z = (N
p
× tray spacing) + top height of tower
Lesson 11
___________________________________________________________________________________
1146 2.07/98
The top height of the tower is the distance that allows the gasvapor mixture to
separate. This distance is usually the same distance as the tray spacing.
Z = (6 plates) (0.53 m) + 0.53 m
= 3.18 + 0.53
= 3.71 m
Note: This height is approximately the same as that predicted for the packed
tower in Example 114. This seems logical since both packed and plate towers
are efficient gasabsorption devices. However, due to the many assumptions, no
concrete generalization can be made.
Summary
For gas absorption, the two devices most often used are the packed tower and the plate tower.
Both of these devices, if designed and operated properly, can achieve high collection
efficiencies for a wide variety of gases. Other scrubbing systems can be used for absorption,
but are limited to cases where the gases are highly soluble. For example, spray towers,
venturis, and cyclonic scrubbers are designed assuming the performance is equivalent to one
single equilibrium stage (i.e., N
OG
= 1) (Perry 1973).
The equations and procedures used in designing packed and plate towers are very similar.
Both are based on solubility, the masstransfer model, and the geometry of the tower. The
main difference is that the equations for a plate tower are based on a stepwise process,
whereas those for a packed tower are based on a continuouscontacting process. Care must be
taken when applying any of the equations presented in this lesson (or in other texts). Some of
the equations are empirical and are applicable only under a similar set of conditions. Used
correctly, these procedures can be a useful tool in checking absorber designs or in
determining the effect of a process change on absorber operation.
When checking the design plans for the permit process, the agency engineer should check its
files or another agency's files for similar applications for absorber installations. A review of
these data will help determine if the absorber design specifications submitted by the industrial
source's officials are adequate to achieve pollutant removal efficiency for compliance with
the regulations. The agency engineer should require the source owner/operator to conduct
stack tests (once the source is operating) to determine if the source is in compliance with
local, state, and federal regulations. The agency engineer should also require that the source
owner/operator submit an operation and maintenance schedule that will help keep the
scrubber system on line.
To test your knowledge of the preceding section, answer the questions in Part 5 of the Review
Exercise and work problem 3.
Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants
___________________________________________________________________________________
2.07/98 1147
Review Exercise
Questions
Part 1
1. Of the wet collectors listed below, which is/are the best device(s) for removing gaseous
pollutants from process exhaust streams?
a. Packed tower
b. Plate tower
c. Venturi scrubber
d. Centrifugal scrubber
e. a and b
2. In the absorption process, the solute is the:
a. Inert portion of the gas stream
b. Area where the gas phase and liquid phase come into contact with each other
c. Gaseous pollutant that is absorbed
d. Capability of a gas to be dissolved in a liquid
3. A very important factor affecting the amount of a pollutant that can be absorbed is its
____________________.
4. In an absorber, as the temperature of the system increases, the amount of pollutant that can
be absorbed ____________________.
a. Increases
b. Decreases
5. A plot of the mole fraction of the solute in the liquid phase versus the mole fraction of the
solute in the gas phase is called:
a. The partial pressure
b. An equilibrium diagram
c. A concentration gradient
6. What is one form of the equation for Henry's law?
a. x = Hp
b. H = xp
c. H = x/y
d. y = H'x
7. In describing the solubility of various gases in water, the ____________________ Henry's
law constant is, the more soluble the gas is.
a. Smaller
b. Larger
Lesson 11
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1148 2.07/98
Part 2
8. In the doubleresistance, or twofilm theory, a ____________________ zone exists that
includes a gas and liquid phase on either side of the interface.
a. Soluble
b. Masstransfer
c. Droplet
9. True or False? The twofilm theory implies that all resistance to movement occurs when the
molecule (gaseous pollutant) is diffusing through the gas and liquid films.
10. In absorption equations, the concentration of a gaseous pollutant is usually expressed by its:
a. Diffusion rate
b. Total pressure
c. Partial pressure
11. In calculating the rate of mass transfer of pollutant A, N
A
, using the equation
( )
N K p p
A OG AG A
*
= − , the term K
OG
is the:
a. Equilibrium concentration of pollutant A
b. Masstransfer coefficient for the gas film
c. Masstransfer coefficient for the liquid film
d. Overall masstransfer coefficient based on the gas phase
12. True or False? Overall masstransfer coefficients are only valid when a plot of the
equilibrium data yields an equilibrium line that is straight.
Part 3
13. In absorption calculations, a(an) ____________________ equates the gas and liquid
concentrations coming into the absorber with the gas and liquid concentrations going out of
the absorber.
a. Material balance
b. Energy balance
c. Transfer unit
14. In air pollution calculations, the mass of the pollutant is usually very
____________________ compared to the mass of exhaust gas being treated and the mass of
the liquid used in the absorber.
a. Small
b. Large
Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants
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2.07/98 1149
15. In the graph below, the line AB is the:
a. Equilibrium line
b. Actual operating line
c. Minimum operating line
16. The slope of the actual operating line is:
a. Minimum liquidtogas ratio
b. G
m
/L
m
(actual)
c. L
m
/G
m
(actual)
17. True or False? In the following figure, point B represents absorber conditions where the
liquid leaving the absorber is saturated with the pollutant and can no longer absorb any
additional pollutant, unless more liquid is added.
Lesson 11
___________________________________________________________________________________
1150 2.07/98
Part 4
18. In designing a packed tower, the normal practice is to make the tower diameter so that the
unit will operate at ____________________ of the flooding velocity rate.
a. 50 to 75%
b. 100%
c. 150%
19. True or False? The Sherwood correlation can be used to calculate the tower diameter of a
packed tower, if the minimum liquid rate, L
m
, and the gas flow rate, G, through the absorber
are known.
20. In estimating packing height in a packed tower, the packing sections are broken up into
discrete sections called:
a. Transfer units
b. Gasfilm coefficients
c. Liquidfilm coefficients
21. The packing height, Z, can be estimated from the following equation:
Z = HTU × NTU
What are the terms HTU and NTU?
HTU: ________________________________________________________________
NTU: ________________________________________________________________
22. True or False? The Colburn diagram can be used to estimate the number of transfer units
based on an overall gasfilm coefficient, N
OG
, if the absorption factor (mG
m
/L
m
), the inlet
and outlet pollutant concentrations, and the liquid recycle concentrations are known.
23. The height of a transfer unit is a function of:
a. Type of packing
b. Liquid and gas flow rates
c. Pollutant concentration and solubility
d. Liquid properties and system temperature
e. All of the above
24. For most packed tower applications, the height of a transfer unit can be estimated to be:
a. 3 to 4.6 m (10 to 15 ft)
b. 0.3 to 1.2 m (1 to 4 ft)
c. 1.82 to 3 m (6 to 10 ft)
Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants
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2.07/98 1151
Part 5
25. In a plate tower, if the gas velocity through the tower is too fast, liquid droplets become
entrained in the gas stream, causing a condition called:
a. Pumping
b. Streaking
c. Priming
26. True or False? For the purpose of determining a platetower diameter, priming in a plate
tower is the same as the flooding point in a packed tower.
27. In a plate tower, the following equation
N
Y mX
Y mX
mG
L
mG
L
L
mG
p
m
m
m
m
m
m
=
−
−

\

.
 −

\

.
 +

\

.

ln
ln
1 2
2 2
1
is used to calculate the:
a. Number of transfer units based on an overall gasfilm coefficient
b. Number of transfer units based on Henry's law constant
c. Number of theoretical plates
28. In plate towers, the efficiency of each plate, or tray, is usually ____________________.
a. 20 to 30%
b. 65 to 80%
c. 90 to 100%
Lesson 11
___________________________________________________________________________________
1152 2.07/98
Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants
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2.07/98 1153
Problem 1
A medical waste incinerator utilizes a packed scrubber to remove HCl and other soluble
gases. Given the operating conditions below, estimate the scrubbing liquid volumetric flow
rate, Q
L
, (essentially water with some caustic added to control pH) to achieve the required
removal efficiency.
Q
G
, gas flow 15,000 acfm at 500
o
F
Y
1
, concentration of HCI in inlet gas 1,000 ppm or 47 lb/hr
Y
2
, concentration of HCI in outlet gas 30 ppm or 1.4 lb/hr
X
2
, concentration of HCI in inlet liquid 0
m, Henry’s Law equilibrium constant 1.1
actual flow rate 1.5 times minimum
ρ
l
, density of water 8.35 lb/gal
R, ideal gas constant at 70°F 380 scf/lbmole
molecular weight of water 18 lb/mole
molecular weight of HCI 36 lb/mole
Lesson 11
___________________________________________________________________________________
1154 2.07/98
Problem 1: Student Worksheet
(This space is provided for you to work problem 1)
Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants
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2.07/98 1155
Problem 1: Student Worksheet (cont’d)
(This space is provided for you to work problem 1)
Lesson 11
___________________________________________________________________________________
1156 2.07/98
Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants
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2.07/98 1157
Problem 2
A sewage treatment plant utilizes a countercurrent flow, packed bed scrubber to control odor
emissions. The scrubbing liquid uses potassium permanganate solution in water and the
packing material is 1 inch Berl ceramic saddles. Because of development in the area, the
treatment plant needs to increase capacity by 25%. Given the data below, can the present
tower accommodate the added flows?
Existing Proposed
Q
G
, volumetric flow rate of gas 10,000 acfm 12,500 acfm
Q
L
, volumetric flow rate of liquid 100 gal/min
125 gal/min
T, temperature of gas 70
o
F 70
o
F
µ
l
, viscosity of liquid 0.018
centipoise
0.018
centipoise
ρ
l
, density of liquid 64 lb/ft
3
64 lb/ft
3
ρ
g
, density of gas 0.075 lb/ft
3
0.075 lb/ft
3
φ, ratio of specific gravity of scrubbing
liquid to that of water
1.01 1.01
F, packing factor 45 ft
3
45 ft
3
tower diameter 4 ft 4 ft
Constants and assumptions:
R, ideal gas constant (at 70°F) 380 scf/lbmole
g
c
, gravitational constant 32.2 lb/sec
2
molecular weight of flue gas (assume
it is essentially air)
29 lb/lbmole
1 gal 0.134 ft
3
Problem 2: Student Worksheet
(This space is provided for you to work problem 2)
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Problem 2: Student Worksheet (cont’d)
(This space is provided for you to work problem 2)
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Problem 2: Student Worksheet (cont’d)
(This space is provided for you to work problem 2)
Lesson 11
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Problem 3
Calculate the number of theoretical plates required by a scrubber given the data below.
Also, estimate the total height of a column if tray spacing is 2 ft and the overall tray
efficiency is 70%. Assume that the top spacing is also 2 ft.
Q
G
, volumetric gas flow rate 15,000 acfm at 500
o
F
Y
1
,
concentration of HCI in entering gas 1,000 ppm or 0.01 mole fraction
Y
2
,
concentration of HCI in exiting gas 30 ppm or 0.00003 mole fraction
m, Henry’s law equilibrium constant 1.1
X
2
,
concentration of HCI in inlet liquid 0
Q
L
, volumetric liquid flow rate 123 gal/min
ρ
l
, density of water 8.35 lb/gal
R, the ideal gas constant (at 70°F) 380 scf/lbmole
molecular weight of water 18 lb/mole
Problem 3: Student Worksheet
(This space is provided for you to work problem 3)
Lesson 11
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1162 2.07/98
Problem 3: Student Worksheet (cont’d)
(This space is provided for you to work problem 3)
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Review Exercise Answers
Answers to Questions
Part 1
1. e. a and b
Packed towers and plate towers are better than venturi scrubbers and centrifugal scrubbers
for removing gaseous pollutants from process exhaust streams.
2. c. Gaseous pollutant that is absorbed
In the absorption process, the solute is the gaseous pollutant that is absorbed.
3. Solubility
A very important factor affecting the amount of a pollutant that can be absorbed is its
solubility.
4. b. Decreases
In an absorber, as the temperature of the system increases, the amount of pollutant that can
be absorbed decreases.
5. b. An equilibrium diagram
A plot of the mole fraction of the solute in the liquid phase versus the mole fraction of the
solute in the gas phase is called an equilibrium diagram.
6. d. y = H'x
One form of the equation for Henry's law is:
y = H'x
7. a. Smaller
In describing the solubility of various gases in water, the smaller Henry's law constant is, the
more soluble the gas is.
Part 2
8. b. Masstransfer
In the doubleresistance, or twofilm theory, a mass transfer zone exists that includes a gas
and liquid phase on either side of the interface.
9. True
The twofilm theory implies that all resistance to movement occurs when the molecule
(gaseous pollutant) is diffusing through the gas and liquid films.
10. c. Partial pressure
In absorption equations, the concentration of a gaseous pollutant is usually expressed by its
partial pressure.
11. d. Overall masstransfer coefficient based on the gas phase
In calculating the rate of mass transfer of pollutant A (i.e. N
A
) using the equation
( )
N K p p
A OG AG A
*
= − , the term K
OG
is the overall masstransfer coefficient based on the
gas phase.
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1164 2.07/98
12. True
Overall masstransfer coefficients are only valid when a plot of the equilibrium data yields
an equilibrium line that is straight.
Part 3
13. a. Material balance
In absorption calculations, a material balance equates the gas and liquid concentrations
coming into the absorber with the gas and liquid concentrations going out of the absorber.
14. a. Small
In air pollution calculations, the mass of the pollutant is usually very small compared to the
mass of exhaust gas being treated and the mass of the liquid used in the absorber.
15. c. Minimum operating line
In the graph below, the line AB is the minimum operating line.
16. c. L
m
/G
m
(actual)
The slope of the actual operating line is L
m
/G
m
(actual).
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17. True
In the following figure, point B represents absorber conditions where the liquid leaving the
absorber is saturated with the pollutant and can no longer absorb any additional pollutant,
unless more liquid is added.
Part 4
18. a. 50 to 75%
In designing a packed tower, the normal practice is to make the tower diameter so that the
unit will operate at 50 to 75% of the flooding velocity rate.
19. True
The Sherwood correlation can be used to calculate the tower diameter of a packed tower, if
the minimum liquid rate, L
m
, and the gas flow rate, G, through the absorber are known.
20. a. Transfer units
In estimating packing height in a packed tower, the packing sections are broken up into
discrete sections called transfer units.
21. HTU = height of a transfer unit
NTU = number of transfer units
In the equation, Z = HTU × NTU, which estimates the packing height, Z:
HTU = height of a transfer unit
NTU = number of transfer units
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22. True
The Colburn diagram can be used to estimate the number of transfer units based on an
overall gasfilm coefficient, N
OG
, if the absorption factor (mG
m
/L
m
), the inlet and outlet
pollutant concentrations, and the liquid recycle concentrations are known. See Figure
1114.
23. e. All of the above
The height of a transfer unit is a function of the following:
• Type of packing
• Liquid and gas flow rates
• Pollutant concentration and solubility
• Liquid properties and system temperature
24. b. 0.3 to 1.2 m (1 to 4 ft)
For most packed tower applications, the height of a transfer unit can be estimated to be 0.3
to 1.2 m (1 to 4 ft).
Part 5
25. c. Priming
In a plate tower, if the gas velocity through the tower is too fast, liquid droplets become
entrained in the gas stream, causing a condition called priming.
26. True
For the purpose of determining a platetower diameter, priming in a plate tower is the same
as the flooding point in a packed tower.
27. c. Number of theoretical plates
In a plate tower, the following equation:
N
Y mX
Y mX
mG
L
mG
L
L
mG
p
m
m
m
m
m
m
=
−
−

\

.
 −

\

.
 +

\

.

ln
ln
1 2
2 2
1
is used to calculate the number of theoretical plates.
28. b. 65 to 80%
In plate towers, the efficiency of each plate, or tray, is usually 65 to 80%.
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Solution to Problem 1
Answer: To achieve the required removal efficiency, the operating liquid flow rate, Q
L
,
should equal 123 gal/min.
Solution:
1. Determine mole fraction of HCl in gas and liquid phases. (See Appendix A for
help converting from ppm to mole fractions.)
Given: Y
1
(gas in) = 1,000 ppm or 0.001 mole fraction
Y
2
(gas out) = 30 ppm or 0.00003 mole fraction
X
2
(liquid in) = 0 ppm
X
1
(liquid out) = unknown
2. Convert gas flow, Q
G
, from acfm to molar units (G
m
).
G
m
= Q
G
× temperature correction × R
to standard (in absolute units)
mole/min  lb 8 . 21
scf 380
mole  lb
500 + 460
70 + 460
min
acf
15,000 = G
m
=
× ×
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3. Calculate the concentration of HCl in the existing liquid (X
1
) at the minimum
flow rate. At the minimum liquid flow rate, the gas mole fraction of HCl entering
the absorber, Y
1
, will be in equilibrium with the liquid mole fraction leaving the
absorber, X
1
. At equilibrium:
Y
1
= m X
1
X
1
= Y
1
/m
Given: m = 1.1, Henry’s law equilibrium constant
X
1
= (0.001)/1.1
X
1
= 0.00091
4. Compute the minimum L
m
/G
m
using the following equation:
( )
min
m
m
min
m
m
2 1
m
m
2 1
G
L
= 1.07
) 0 00091 . 0 (
G
L
= 0.00003 001 . 0
X X
G
L
Y Y


.

\

−


.

\

−
− = −
5. Calculate the minimum liquid flow rate, in gallons per minute.
(L
m
/G
m
)
min
= 1.07
(L
m
)
min
= G
m
(1.07)
From step 2: G
m
= 21.8 lbmole/min
(L
m
)
min
= (21.8 lbmole/min) 1.07
= 37 lbmole/min
Convert from molar flow rate 
.

\

min
mole  lb
to volumetric flow rate (gal/min).
min
.
imum Q
gal
L
= × ×
=
37 lb mole
min
18 lb
lb mole lb
gal / min
8 35
82
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6. Calculate operating liquid flow rate, Q
L
.
Operating Q = 1.5 minimum liquid flow rate
= 1.5 82 gal / min
= 123 gal / min
L
×
×
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Solution to Problem 2
Answer: No, the existing tower (as is) cannot accommodate additional flows.
Solution:
1. Convert the proposed gas and liquid volumetric flow rates to mass units.
Given: Q = 12,500 acfm at 70 F
G = 12,500
ft
min
 mole
380 ft
29 lb
 mole
954 lb / min
Given: Q = 125 gal / min
L = 125
gal
min
0.134 ft
gal
lb
ft
= 1,072 lb / min
G
3
3
L
3
3
°
× ×
=
× ×
lb
lb
64
2. Calculate the abscissa in the flooding curve.
Use equation 1116:
Abscissa =
L
G
×

\

.

ρ
ρ
g
l
0.5
Given: ρ
g
= 0.075 lb/ft
3
, the density of gas
ρ
l
= 64 lb/ft
3
, the density of liquid
From step 1: L = 1.072 lb/min
G = 954 lb/min
0.038
lb/ft 64
lb/ft 0.075
lb/min 954
lb/min 1,072
Abscissa
5 . 0
3
3
=


.

\


.

\

=
3. Calculate the area of the tower using one of the following two equations.
A =
A = 0.7854 d
2
πr
2
×
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1172 2.07/98
Where: A = area of crosssection of tower, m
2
(ft
2
)
r = radius of tower, m (ft)
d = diameter of tower, m (ft)
Given: d = 4 ft
A = (0.7854) (4 ft)
12.56 ft
2
2
=
4. Next, calculate the superficial gas velocity (G').
′ G = G/A
From step 1: G = 954 lb/min
From step 3: A = 12.56 ft
2
′ × ×
= •
G =
lb
min sec
1
12.56 ft
1.27 lb / sec ft
2
2
954
60
min
5. Calculate ε, the ordinate in the flooding curve.
ε
φ µ
ρ ρ
=
G
2
′ F
g
l
g l c
0.2
Given: F = 45 ft
3
, packing factor
φ = 1.01, ratio of the specific gravity of scrubbing liquid
to that of water
µ
l
= 0.018 centipoise, viscosity of liquid
ρ
g
= 0.075 lb/ft
3
, the density of gas
ρ
l
= 64 lb/ft
3
, the density of liquid
g
c
= 32.2 lb/sec
2
, the gravitational constant
From step 4: G' = 1.27 lb/sec•ft
2
( ) ( )
( )( )
( )( )( )
ε =
lb / sec ft ft 1.01 0.018 centipoise
lb / ft lb / ft lb / sec
2 3
3 3 2
127 45
0 075 64 32 2
0 21
2
0.2
.
. .
.
•
=
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2.07/98 1173
From the coordinates on the graph in Figure 1111, the new operating point (x =
0.038 and y = 0.21) would be above the flooding line and this is unacceptable. Note
that the facility could still increase throughput and utilize the same tower by
switching to a different packing material with a lower packing factor. For example,
by using 2 inch plastic Tellerettes with a factor (F) of 20, the new ε would be 0.09
which would be well within acceptable limits.
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Solution to Problem 3
Answer: Number of theoretical plates = 6.08
Total height of column = 20 ft
Solution:
1. Convert gas and liquid volumetric flow rates (Q
G
and Q
L
) to molar units (G
m
and L
m
).
G
m
= Q
G
× temperature correction × R
to standard (in absolute units)
G
L
m
m
= × ×
=
× ×
=
15,000 acf
min
460 + 70
460 + 500
lb  mole
380 scf
21.8 lb  mole / min
=
gal
min
8.35 lb
gal
lb  mole
18 lb
57 lb  mole / min
123
2. Calculate number of theoretical plates, N
p
.
N
Y mX
Y mX
mG
L
mG
L
L
mG
p
m
m
m
m
m
m
=
−
−

\

.
 −

\

.
 +

\

.

ln
ln
1 2
2 2
1
Given: Y
1
(inlet gas) = 0.01 mole fraction
Y
2
(outlet gas) = 0.00003 mole fraction
X
2
= 0, concentration of HCI in inlet liquid
m = 1.1, Henry’s law equilibrium constant
From step 1: G
m
= 21.8 lbmole/min
L
m
= 57 lbmole/min
Lesson 11
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1176 2.07/98
( )( ) ( )( )
( )( )
N
n 193.52
p
=
−
−

\

.

−

\

.
 +

\

.

=
=
ln
.
.
. . . .
ln
. .
.
0 01 0
0 00003 0
1
11 218
57
11 218
57
57
11 218
1
608
1n 2.37
theoretical plates
3. Calculate the number of actual plates.
Actual plates =
estimated theoretical plates
overall efficiency
Given: overall tray efficiency = 70%
From step 2: estimated number of theoretical plates = 6.08
Actual plates = 6.08/0.70
= 8.7 plates
= 9 plates (since you can’t have a fractional plate)
4. Estimate the height of the tower, Z.
Z = (Number plates) × (tray spacing) + top spacing
Given: tray spacing = 2 ft
top spacing = 2 ft
From step 3: number of actual plates = 9
Z = (9 × 2 ft) + 2 ft
Z = 20 ft
Note this is a rather tall tower for this separation. By increasing the liquid flow the tower
height could be reduced. For example, by doubling the liquid flow rate the tower height
could be reduced to half the size.
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Bibliography
Bethea, R. M. 1978. Air Pollution Control Technology. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.
Bhatia, M. V. 1977. Packed tower and absorption design. In P. N. Cheremisinoff and R. A.
Young (Eds.), Air Pollution Control and Design Handbook. New York: Marcel Dekker.
Calvert, S., J. Goldschmid, D. Leith, and D. Mehta. 1972, August. Wet Scrubber System Study.
Vol. 1, Scrubber Handbook. EPAR272118a. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Danckwerts, P. V. 1951. Industrial and Engineering Chemistry. 43:1460.
Diab, Y. S., and R. N. Maddox. 1982. Absorption. Chemical Engineering. 89:3856.
Higbie, R. 1935. Transactions of AIChE. 31:365.
MacDonald, J. W. 1977. Packed wet scrubbers. In P. N. Cheremisinoff and R. A. Young (Eds.),
Air Pollution Control and Design Handbook. Part 2. New York: Marcel Dekker.
Marchello, J. M. 1976. Control of Air Pollution Sources. New York: Marcel Dekker.
McCabe, W. L., and C. J. Smith. 1967. Unit Operations of Chemical Engineering. New York:
McGrawHill.
Perry, J. H. (Ed.). 1973. Chemical Engineers’ Handbook. 5th ed. New York: McGrawHill.
Richards, J. R. 1995. Control of Gaseous Emissions. (APTI Course 415). U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency.
Sherwood, K. T. and R. L. Pigford. 1952. Absorption and Extraction. New York: McGraw
Hill.
Theodore, L., and A. J. Buonicore. 1975. Industrial Control Equipment for Gaseous Pollutants.
Vol. I. Cleveland: CRC Press.
Toor, H. L., and J. M. Marchello. 1958. Journal of AIChE. 4:97.
Treybal, R. E. 1968. Mass Transfer Operations. 2nd ed. New York: McGrawHill.
Whitman, W. G. 1923. Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering. 29:147.
Zenz, F. A. 1972. Designing gas absorption towers. Chemical Engineering. 79:120138.
Lesson 11
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Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________
The same three basic review approaches discussed for particle removal are applicable for gas absorber evaluation: 1. Empirical relationships based on historical data 2. Theoretical principles based on gas chemistry and physics 3. Pilot scale test data The theoretical relationships for gas absorption have been well defined over the many years that gas absorption has been studied; however, they can be very complex and are dependent on the mechanical design of the scrubber. As with particulate scrubbers, empirical relationships and general rules of thumb are often used to evaluate absorber designs and there is no one easy set of equations to evaluate the design of all absorbers. All wet scrubbing systems are able to collect both particulate and gaseous pollutants emitted from process exhaust streams. However, spray towers, plate towers, packed towers, and movingbed scrubbers are most often used for gaseous pollutant removal. This lesson will focus on equations used to estimate liquid flow rate, the diameter and the height of a packed tower, and the diameter and number of plates used in a plate tower to achieve a specified pollutant removal efficiency. In evaluating an absorption system, the reviewer can use the equations in this lesson to estimate critical operating parameters or component sizes, then supplement this information with operating information on the particular scrubber type from previous lessons to complete the review process.
Review of Design Criteria
The principal design criteria are the exhaust flow rate to the absorber, measured in units of m3/min (ft3/min, or acfm), and the gaseous pollutant concentration, measured in units of parts per million (ppm). The exhaust volume and pollutant concentration are set by the process exhaust conditions. Once these criteria are known, the vendor can begin to design the absorber for the specific application. A thorough review of the design plans should consider the factors presented below. Exhaust gas characteristics  average and maximum flow rates to the absorber, and chemical properties such as dew point, corrosiveness, pH, and solubility of the pollutant to be removed should be measured or accurately estimated. Liquid flow  the type of scrubbing liquid and the rate at which the liquid is supplied to the absorber. If the scrubbing liquid is to be recirculated, the pH and amount of suspended solids (if any) should be monitored to ensure continuous reliability of the absorbing system. Pressure drop  the pressure drop (gasside) at which the absorber will operate; the absorber design should also include a means for monitoring the pressure drop across the system, usually by manometers. pH  the pH at which the absorber will operate; the pH of the absorber should be monitored so that the acidity or alkalinity of the absorbing liquor can be properly adjusted.
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Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________
Removal of entrained liquid  mists and liquid droplets that become entrained in the "scrubbed" exhaust stream should be removed before exiting the stack. Some type of entrainment separator, or mist eliminator, should be included in the design. Emission requirements  collection efficiency in terms of parts per million to meet the air pollution regulations; collection efficiency can be high (90 to 99%) if the absorber is properly designed. The agency review engineer can use the equations listed in this lesson to estimate the absorber removal efficiency, liquid flow rate, tower diameter, and packing height. However, these equations can only estimate these values, and they should not be used as the basis to either accept or reject the design plans submitted for the permit process.
Absorption
Absorption is a process that refers to the transfer of a gaseous pollutant from a gas phase to a liquid phase. More specifically, in air pollution control, absorption involves the removal of objectionable gaseous pollutants from a process stream by dissolving them in a liquid. The absorption process can be categorized as physical or chemical. Physical absorption occurs when the absorbed compound dissolves in the liquid; chemical absorption occurs when the absorbed compound and the liquid (or a reagent in the liquid) react. Liquids commonly used as solvents include water, mineral oils, nonvolatile hydrocarbon oils, and aqueous solutions. Some common terms used when discussing the absorption process follow: Absorbent  the liquid, usually water, into which the pollutant is absorbed. Solute, or absorbate  the gaseous pollutant being absorbed, such as SO2, H2S, etc. Carrier gas  the inert portion of the gas stream, usually air, from which the pollutant is being removed. Interface  the area where the gas phase and the absorbent contact each other. Solubility  the capability of a particular gas to be dissolved in a given liquid. Absorption is a masstransfer operation. In absorption, mass transfer of the gaseous pollutant into the liquid occurs as a result of a concentration difference (of the pollutant) between the liquid and gas phases. Absorption continues as long as a concentration difference exists where the gaseous pollutant and liquid are not in equilibrium with each other. The concentration difference depends on the solubility of the gaseous pollutant in the liquid.
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113
Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________
Absorbers remove gaseous pollutants by dissolving them into a liquid called the absorbent. In designing absorbers, optimum absorption efficiency can be achieved by doing the following: • • • • Providing a large interfacial contact area Providing for good mixing between the gas and liquid phases Allowing sufficient residence, or contact, time between the phases Choosing a liquid in which the gaseous pollutant is very soluble
Solubility
Solubility is a very important factor affecting the amount of a pollutant, or solute, that can be absorbed. Solubility is a function of both the temperature and, to a lesser extent, the pressure of the system. As temperature increases, the amount of gas that can be absorbed by a liquid decreases. From the ideal gas law: as temperature increases, the volume of a gas also increases; therefore, at the higher temperatures, less gas is absorbed due its larger volume. Pressure affects the solubility of a gas in the opposite manner. By increasing the pressure of a system, the amount of gas absorbed generally increases. The solubility of a specific gas in a given liquid is defined at a designated temperature and pressure. Table 111 presents data on the solubility of SO2 gas in water at 101 kPa, or 1 atm, and various temperatures. In determining solubility data, the partial pressure (in mm Hg) is measured with the concentration (in grams of solute per 100 grams of liquid) of the solute in the liquid. The data in Table 111 were taken from The International Critical Tables, a good source of information concerning gasliquid systems. Table 111.
Grams of SO2 per 100g H2O 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 3.5 4.0 4.5 5.0
Partial pressure of SO2 in aqueous solution, mm Hg
10°C 21 42 64 86 108 130 153 176 199 223
20°C 29 59 90 123 157 191 227 264 300 338
30°C 42 85 129 176 224 273 324 376 428 482
40°C 60 120 181 245 311 378 447 518 588 661
50°C 83 164 247 333 421 511 603 698 793 
60°C 111 217 328 444 562 682 804 
70°C 144 281 426 581 739 897 
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2.07/98
Figure 111 also illustrates the temperature dependence of the absorption process. Henry's law is expressed as: p = Hx Where: p = x = H = partial pressure of solute at equilibrium. The gasliquid system is at equilibrium. At this point. there is no net transfer of mass to either phase. denoted as x. the collection efficiency would fall to zero at that point since no net mass transfer could occur. and the concentration of the gas in both the gaseous and liquid phases remains constant. The equilibrium concentration. An equilibrium diagram is a plot of the mole fraction of solute in the liquid phase. Equilibrium conditions are important in operating an absorption tower. The most common method of analyzing solubility data is to use an equilibrium diagram. If equilibrium were to be reached in the actual operation of an absorption tower. At a constant mole fraction of solute in the gas (y).H2O systems at various temperatures Under certain conditions. (See Appendix A for a brief refresher on mole fractions. the mole fraction of SO2 that can be absorbed in the liquid (x) increases as the temperature decreases. Henry's law may also be used to express equilibrium solubility of gasliquid systems. Eventually. This involves putting measured amounts of a gas and a liquid into a closed vessel and allowing it to sit for a period of time.07/98 115 . versus the mole fraction of solute in the gas phase. Figure 111. denoted as y.Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ Solubility data are obtained at equilibrium conditions. therefore. Equilibrium lines for SO2 . the amount of gas absorbed into the liquid will equal the amount coming out of the solution. limits the amount of solute that can be removed by absorption. Pa/mole fraction (111) 2.) Equilibrium lines for the SO2 and water system given in Table 111 are plotted in Figure 111. Pa mole fraction of solute in the liquid Henry's law constant.
Equation 112 is the equation of a straight line. where the slope (m) is equal to H'.001.07/98 . Henry's law can be written in a more useful form by dividing both sides of Equation 111 by the total pressure.H2O system for the data given in Example 111 Another restriction on using Henry's law is that it does not hold true for gases that react or dissociate upon dissolution. Data on systems that exhibit curved equilibrium lines must be obtained from experiments. For example. 116 2. y. scrubbing HF or HCl gases with water causes both compounds to dissociate in solution. you can see that H has the units of pressure per concentration. If this happens. The left side of the equation becomes the partial pressure divided by the total pressure. Henry's law can be used to predict solubility only when the equilibrium line is straight. which equals the mole fraction in the gas phase.000ppm SO2 concentration corresponds to a mole fraction of SO2 in the gas phase of only 0. In air pollution control applications. Figure 112 demonstrates that the equilibrium lines are still straight at this low concentration of SO2.Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ From Equation 111. the gas no longer exists as a simple molecule. the equilibrium lines are curved rather than straight. PT. of the system. this is usually the case. Equilibrium diagram for SO2 . Equilibrium lines are usually straight when the solute concentrations are very dilute. In these cases. For example. mole fraction in vapor per mole fraction in liquid mole fraction of the solute in equilibrium Note: H' now depends on the total pressure. an exhaust stream that contains a 1. Figure 112. Equation 111 now becomes: y = H'x Where: y = H' = x = (112) mole fraction of gas in equilibrium with liquid Henry's law constant.
atm/mole fraction.0 kPa (224 mm Hg) 36. Table 112.5 31.9 47.3 kPa (176 mm Hg) 30.5 1. The units of Henry's law constants are atmospheres per mole fraction. Table 112 demonstrates that SO2 is approximately 100 times more soluble in water than CO2 is. the more soluble the gas.0 60.0 2.5 3.016 1. Example 111 Given the data in Table 113 for the solubility of SO2 in pure water at 303°K (30°C) and 101.0 1.6 48. The smaller the constant.014 30°C 92. Expressed in H × 105. plot the equilibrium diagram. Table 113.6 kPa (85 mm Hg) 18.4 1. Henry's law constants for gases in H2O1 Gas N2 CO H2S O2 NO CO2 SO2 20°C 80.1 26. cso 2 (g of SO2 per 100 g of H2O) 0.4 kPa (273 mm Hg) 2.3 40.5 2.0 pso 2 Equilibrium data y (mole fraction of SO2 in gas phase) x (mole fraction of SO2 in liquid phase) (partial pressure of SO2) 6 kPa (42 mm Hg) 11.0 1.4 53.Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ Henry's law constants for the solubility of several gases in water are listed in Table 112.3 kPa (760 mm Hg). The following example illustrates how to develop an equilibrium diagram from solubility data.42 0.4 62.86 0.07/98 117 .3 kPa (129 mm Hg) 24. calculate y and x. and determine if Henry's law applies.
by dividing the moles of SO2 dissolved into the solution by the total moles of liquid.0014 The mole fractions of the solute in the liquid phase are tabulated in Table 114.3 kPa = 0. by dividing the partial pressure of SO2 by the total pressure of the system. 1. x= moles of SO 2 in solution moles of SO2 in solution + moles of H 2 O Where: moles of SO2 in solution = cSO 2 /64 g SO2 per mole moles of H2O = 100 g of H2O/18 g H2O per mole = 5.06 The mole fractions of SO2 in the gas phase (y) are tabulated in Table 114. Calculate the mole fraction of the solute (SO2) in the liquid phase. convert the data for the concentration of SO2 in water and the partial pressure of SO2 in air into mole fraction units. x.55 moles x= cso 2 / 64 . cso 2 / 64 + 555 0. Calculate the mole fraction of SO2 in the gas phase.Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ Solution In steps 1 and 2.5 64 = 0. 118 2. y= y= pso 2 PT 6 kPa 101.07/98 .5 . 2. y. + 555 64 = 0.
239 − 0.180 = ≈ 42.5 1.0 2.0084 0. Slope = y 0.0 1.239 0.060 0.7 x 0.5 3.0070 0. To test your knowledge of the preceding section.298 0. 2. Equilibrium data for Example 111 pSO 2 c SO 2 = g of SO 2 100 g H 2O (kPa) 6.0042 The slope of the line (∆y/∆x).07/98 119 . answer the questions in Part 1 of the Review Exercise.0 11.5 2.115 0.0056 0. Henry's law constant (H'). Henry's law applies. Plot the mole fraction of SO2 in air.H2O system for the data given in Example 111 The plot in Figure 112 is a straight line.3 30. is approximately equal to 42. Figure 112.0056 − 0.359 x = cso2 / 64 cso2 / 64 + 5 .0 3.0042 0.6 18.0028 0. therefore.0 36.3 24.4 y = p/101. against the mole fraction of SO2 dissolved in water.7.180 0.0014 0. (x). 55 0. (y). (repeated) Equilibrium diagram for SO2 .3 0.Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ Table 114.
or streamline. in practice. and can be categorized by mathematical expressions. A number of theories. Therefore. which was first proposed by Whitman in 1923. molecular motion occurs by diffusion. but no mathematical expressions adequately describe the transport of a molecule through both phases in turbulent motion. and predict how a change in operating conditions affects absorber performance. The masstransfer zone is comprised of two films. The twofilm model starts by assuming that the gas and liquid phases are in turbulent contact with each other. motion. However. A valid mathematical expression describing absorber performance makes it possible to determine the proper absorber size for a given set of conditions. or doubleresistance. separated by an interface area where they meet. This assumption may be correct.07/98 . From this mechanism. These films are assumed to flow in a laminar. or models. theory. a gas film and a liquid film on their respective sides of the interface. Figure 113. Visualization of twofilm theory 1110 2. The most widely used model for describing the absorption process is the twofilm. In laminar flow. none of these analytical expressions can solely be used for design calculations. The model starts with the threestep mechanism of absorption previously discussed in Lesson 2. Experimental or empirical data must also be used to obtain reliable results. the model proposes that a masstransfer zone exists to include a small portion (film) of the gas and liquid phases on either side of the interface. attempt to analytically describe the absorption mechanism. This concept of the twofilm theory is illustrated in Figure 113.Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ Absorber Design Theory The first step in designing an air pollution control device is to develop a mathematical expression describing the observed phenomenon. the rate of mass transfer was shown to depend on the rate of migration of a molecule in either the gas or liquid phase.
The molecule must: 1. Diffuse through the liquid film 5. Similarly.Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ According to the twofilm theory. The partial pressure (concentration) in the gas phase changes from pAG in the bulk gas to pAI at the interface. A gas concentration is expressed by its partial pressure. The rate of mass transfer from one phase to the other then equals the amount of molecule A transferred multiplied by the resistance molecule A encounters in diffusing through the films. for a molecule of substance A to be absorbed. hence the name doubleresistance theory. This implies that all resistance to movement occurs when the molecule is diffusing through the gas and liquid films to get to the interface area. the concentration in the liquid changes from cAI at the interface to cAL in the bulk liquid phase as mass transfer occurs. it must proceed through a series of five steps. gmol/h•m2•Pa (lbmole/hr•ft2•atm) partial pressure of solute A in the gas partial pressure of solute A at the interface concentration of solute A at the interface concentration of solute A in the liquid 2.07/98 1111 . Mix into the bulk liquid The theory assumes that complete mixing takes place in both gas and liquid bulk phases and that the interface is at equilibrium with respect to pollutant molecules transferring in or out of the interface. gmol/h•m2 (lbmole/hr•ft2) masstransfer coefficient for gas film. NA = kg(pAG − pAI) NA= kl(cAI − cAL) (113) (114) Where: NA = kg = kl = pAG = pAI = cAI = cAL = rate of transfer of component A. gmol/h•m2•Pa (lbmole/hr•ft2•atm) masstransfer coefficient for liquid film. Diffuse across the interface 4. Migrate from the bulkgas phase to the gas film 2. Diffuse through the gas film 3.
the amount of pollutant transferred (per unit of time) from the gas to the liquid increases. The interface is a fictitious state used in the model to represent an observed phenomenon. kg and kl. as the value for a mass transfer coefficient increases. An analogy is the resistance electricity encounters as it flows through a circuit. represent the flow resistance the solute encounters in diffusing through each film respectively (Figure 114). Resistance to motion encountered by a molecule being absorbed Equations 113 and 114 define the general case of absorption and are applicable to both curved and straight equilibrium lines. As you can see from the above equations.07/98 . In practice. the rate of absorption is given by the equations below: N A = KOG pAG − p* A N A = KOL c* − cAL A Where: NA = ( ) (115) ( ) (116) p* = A rate of transfer of component.Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ The masstransfer coefficients. Equations 113 and 114 are difficult to use. A. Using the interface concentrations in calculations can be avoided by defining the masstransfer system at equilibrium conditions and combining the individual film resistances into an overall resistance from gas to liquid and vice versa. If the equilibrium line is straight. pAI and cAI. gmol/h•m2 (lbmole/hr•ft2) equilibrium partial pressure of solute A at operating conditions 1112 2. Figure 114. since it is impossible to measure the interface concentrations.
At equilibrium. The difference lies in the way they predict the masstransfer coefficient. the overall masstransfer coefficients are related to the individual masstransfer coefficients by the equations below. If equilibrium is ever reached (pAG = p* and cAL = c* ) absorption a A stops and no net transfer occurs. then KOG ≈ kg. Other theories offer different descriptions of gas molecule movement from the gas to the liquid phase. and Equation 118 reduces to KOL ≈ kl. The larger these concentration differences are. the masstransfer rate equation does not differ from that of the twofilm method.Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ c* A KOG KOL pAG cAL = = = = = equilibrium concentration of solute A at operating conditions overall masstransfer coefficient based on gas phase. It has been shown that the rate of mass 2. gmol/h•m2•Pa (lbmole/hr•ft2•atm) overall masstransfer coefficient based on liquid phase. 1 1 H′ = + K OG k g k l 1 1 1 = + K OL k l H ′ k g (117) (118) H' is Henry's law constant (the slope of the equilibrium). if H' is very small (which means the gas is very soluble in the liquid). the equilibrium concentrations determine the maximum amount of solute that is absorbed. The masstransfer rate is liquidfilm controlled and depends on the solute's dispersion rate in the liquid phase. For these theories. and absorption is said to be gasfilm controlled. The major resistance to mass transfer is in the gas phase. H' is large. Thus. if a gas has limited solubility. The rate of mass transfer depends on the concentration departure from equilibrium in either the gas (pAG . Equations 117 and 118 are useful in determining which phase controls the rate of absorption. the greater the rate of A mass transfer becomes.cAL) phase. The discussion so far has been based on the twofilm theory of absorption. gmol/h•m2•Pa (lbmole/hr•ft2•atm) partial pressure of solute A in the gas concentration of solute A in the liquid An important fact concerning Equations 115 and 116 is that they impose an upper limit on the amount of solute that can be absorbed. Some of the significant masstransfer models follow. Most systems in the air pollution control field are gasphase controlled since the liquid is chosen so that the solute will have a high degree of solubility. Conversely.p * ) or liquid A ( c * .07/98 1113 . From Equation 117.
Similar figures are used extensively to compare 1114 2. This allows for easy determination of the column area required to accomplish the desired separation. Packing A consists of oneinch rings and packing B consists of threeinch spiral tiles. ft2). The time each element spends at the surface is assumed to be the same. or slope of the equilibrium line.Combination of the film and penetration theories. Figure 115 provides an example comparing the effect of two types of packing materials on the masstransfer coefficient for SO2 in water (Perry 1973).Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ transfer depends on a concentration difference multiplied by a resistance factor. Note that G' is the gas mass flow rate per crosssectional area of tower (i. Details of this model are discussed in the text because it is the most widely used. do not correlate well with observed values.07/98 . the fluid elements return to the bulk of the liquid and are replaced by another element from the bulkliquid phase.. etc. the overall coefficients apply only when the equilibrium line is straight. After contact with the gas phase. absorption theories provide a basic understanding of the process.e.Improves on the penetration theory by suggesting that the constant exposure time be replaced by an assumed time distribution. packing A has the higher transfer coefficient and would provide a better service in this application. Theoretically predicted values of the individual masstransfer coefficients (kg and kl) based on the twofilm theory.First. but further assumes that mass transfer is a nonsteadystate process. As can be seen from this example. kla. it is difficult to apply them directly. MassTransfer Models The following discussion on masstransfer models is taken from Diab and Maddox (1982). gas flow.Assumes that the liquid surface in contact with the gas consists of small fluid elements. usually either the Reynolds or Schmidt Number. However. but due to the complexities of "real life" operations. Film Theory (Whitman 1923) . Masstransfer coefficients are A a very difficult to determine from theory. and probably the simplest theory proposed for mass transfer across a fluid. FilmPenetration Theory (Toor and Marchello 1958) . or correlated in terms of a dimensionless number. SurfaceRenewal Theory (Danckwerts 1951) . Penetration Theory (Higbie 1935) . Concentrations can easily be determined from operating (c and p) and equilibrium ( c * and p * ) data of the system. Like most theories describing how something functions. Assumes that a laminar film exists at the fluid interface (as in the film theory). These masstransfer coefficients are developed from experimental data and are usually reported in one of two ways: as an empirical relationship based on a function of the liquid flow. Masstransfer coefficients are often expressed by the symbols KOGa. where "a" represents the surface area available for absorption per unit volume of the column. Overall masstransfer coefficients are more easily determined from experimental or operational data.
almost any type of absorber will give adequate removal.07/98 1115 . Figure 115. Emphasis has been placed on presenting information that can be used to estimate absorber size and liquid flow rate. answer the questions in Part 2 of the Review Exercise. In addition. It should be noted that these estimated masstransfer coefficients are system and packingtype dependent and. To test your knowledge of the preceding section. for most gases. Procedures The effectiveness of an absorption system depends on the solubility of the gaseous contaminant. much of the work in practical design situations is empirical in nature. only absorbers that provide a high degree of turbulent contact and a long residence time are capable of achieving high absorption efficiencies. These procedures range in difficulty and cost from shortcut "rules of thumb" equations to indepth design procedures based on pilot plant data. Although the science of absorption is considerably developed. The Chemical Engineers' Handbook gives a comprehensive listing of empirically derived coefficients. Numerous procedures are used to design an absorption system.Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ different absorbers or similar absorbers with varying operating conditions. The two most common highefficiency absorbers are plate and packed towers. therefore. Both of these devices are used extensively to control gaseous pollutants. Comparison of overall absorption coefficient for SO2 in water Source: Perry 1973. do not have widespread applicability. manufacturers of packed and plate towers have graphs in their literature similar to the one in Figure 115. Procedures presented here will be based on the 2. Absorber design calculations presented in this lesson will focus on these two devices. The following sections will apply the principles discussed to the design of gas absorption equipment. For very soluble gases. However.
the first task is to determine the flow rates and composition of each stream entering the system. "what comes in must go out. Material Balance In designing or reviewing the design of an absorption control system. The gas stream to be treated is usually the exhaust from a process in the plant." The approaches discussed in this lesson are for single component systems (i. Therefore.Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ shortcut "rules of thumb." A material balance helps determine flow rates and compositions of individual streams. Material balance for countercurrentflow absorber 1116 2.07/98 . The temperature and inlet composition of the absorbing liquid are also usually known. The outlet composition of the contaminant is set by the emission standard which must be met. The main unknowns in designing the absorption system are the following: • • • The flow rate of liquid required The diameter of the vessel needed to accommodate the gas and liquid flow The height of absorber required to achieve the needed removal Procedures for estimating these three unknowns will be discussed in the following sections. The solute is the "material" in the material balance. When an absorption system is designed. the material entering a process must either accumulate or exit. the volume. only one gaseous pollutant).. and composition of the gas stream are given parameters. Figure 116 illustrates the material balance for a typical countercurrentflow absorber. Figure 116. certain parameters are set by either operating conditions or regulations. In other words. From the law of conservation of mass. temperature.e.
gmol/h (lbmole/hr) Engineering design work is usually done on a solutefree basis (X. X Y Lm Gm = = = = mole fraction of solute in pure liquid mole fraction of solute in inert gas liquid molar flow rate. the top of the absorber is labeled as point 2 and the bottom as point 1. Y) which means we ignore the amount of pollutant being transferred from the gas to the liquid. In this lesson. the percent of pollutant transferred from the gas to the liquid. Therefore. This changes Equation 1111 to Equation 1112. or of the liquid as it is gaining pollutant. An overall mass balance across the absorber in Figure 117 yields Equation 1111. gmol/h (lbmole/hr) gas molar flow rate. lbmole in = lbmole out Gm(in) + Lm(in) = Gm(out) + Lm(out) For convenience. Y ≈ y and X ≈ x. only a slight modification of this procedure is required. Equations for crosscurrent flows are very complicated since they involve a gradient pattern that changes in two directions. They will not be presented here. For concurrent flow. The solutefree basis is defined in Equations 119 and 1110. Gm1 + Lm2 = Gm2 + Lm1 (1112) (1111) 2. y and x. it is assumed that X and Y are always equal to x and y respectively. If y (inlet gas concentration) ever becomes larger than a few percent by volume. This is the most common flow pattern used to achieve highefficiency gas absorption.Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ The following procedure to set up a material balance and determine the liquid flow rate will focus on a countercurrent gasliquid flow pattern.07/98 1117 . Y= y 1− y (119) X= x 1− x (1110) In air pollution control systems. this assumption is invalid and will cause errors in the material balance calculations. from Equations 119 and 1110. This makes the material balance calculations easier because we do not have to continually account for the change in mass of the flue gas as it is losing pollutant. is generally small compared to the flow of gas or liquid.
0 cfm.1% SO2 by volume. If the scrubber were 100% efficient.000 cfm at Gm1 to 9999 cfm at Gm2. The slope of the operating line is the liquid mass flow rate divided by the gas mass flow rate.07/98 . it is referred to as an operating line.e. The transfer of a quantity this small is negligible in an overall material balance. a material balance for the contaminant to be removed is obtained as expressed in Equation 1113.000 ppm SO2 would be only 0.Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ In this same manner. This is justifiable for most air pollution control systems since the mass flow rate of pollutant is very small compared to the liquid and gas mass flow rates. or Lm/Gm.Y2) = Lm(X1 − X2) By rearranging terms. Gm1 Y1 + Lm2X2 = Gm2Y2 + Lm1X1 (1113) Equation 1113 can be simplified by assuming that as the gas and liquid streams flow through the absorber. This line defines operating conditions within the absorber: what is going in and what is coming out. When this line is plotted on an equilibrium diagram. Gm1 = Gm2 and Lm1 = Lm2).. The liquidtogas ratio is used extensively when describing or comparing absorption systems. Gm(Y1 . Equation 1113 can be reduced to Equation 1114. For example. An equilibrium diagram with a typical operating line plotted on it is shown in Figure 117. 1118 2. which is the liquidtogas ratio. or 1. a 10. their total mass does not change appreciably (i. Equation 1114 becomes Equation 1115. Determining the liquidtogas ratio is discussed in the next section.000cfm exhaust stream containing 1. the gas mass flow rate would change from 10. Therefore. Y1 − Y2 = Lm ( X1 − X 2 ) Gm (1115) (1114) Equation 1115 is the equation of a straight line.
Minimum acceptable standards specify the outlet pollutant concentration (Y2). the minimum liquid flow rate required to achieve the required outlet pollutant concentration (Y2) can be determined. 2.Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ Figure 117. By plotting this data on an equilibrium diagram. The composition of the liquid flowing into the absorber (X2) is also generally known or can be assumed to be zero if it is not recycled. Typical operating line diagram Determining the Liquid Requirement In the design of most absorption columns.07/98 1119 . the quantity of exhaust gas to be treated (Gm) and the inlet solute (pollutant) concentration (Y1) are set by process conditions.
Y2) represents the concentration of pollutants in the liquid inlet and the gas outlet at the top of the tower. Determining the minimum liquid flow rate. Setting the liquid rate in this way assumes that the gas flow rate set by the process does not change appreciably. (Lm/Gm)min.5 times the minimum liquidtogas ratio). In Figure 118(b). liquid flow rates are specified at 25 to 100% greater than the required minimum. The liquid leaving the absorber is saturated with solute and can no longer dissolve any more solute unless additional liquid is added. Line AC is referred to as the actual operating line since it describes absorber operating conditions. the minimum liquid rate can easily be determined by substituting in the known gas flow rate. the slope of the line drawn between point A and point B represents the operating conditions at the minimum flow rate.e. is important since absorber operation is usually specified as some factor of it. and may be determined graphically or from the equation for a straight line. 1120 2. the inlet gas concentration of solute (Y1) is in equilibrium with the outlet liquid concentration of solute (Xmax). Line AC in Figure 118(c) is drawn at a slope of 1. Point A (X2.07/98 .5 times the minimum Lm/Gm. Generally. Typical absorber operation would be 50% greater than the minimum liquid flow rate (i. Note how the driving force decreases to zero at point B. This condition is represented by point B on the equilibrium curve. This procedure is illustrated in Example 112. 1. At the minimum liquid rate. The slope of line AB is (Lm/Gm)min.Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ Figure 118(a) is a typical equilibrium diagram with operating points plotted for a countercurrentflow absorber. By knowing the slope of the minimum operating line..
Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ Figure 118.07/98 1121 . 2. Graphic determination of liquid flow rate The following example problem illustrates how to compute the minimum liquid rate required to achieve a desired removal efficiency.
Determine the mole fraction of SO2 in the liquid leaving the absorber to achieve the required removal efficiency.03) = 0. At the minimum liquid flow rate.3 kPa.07/98 . Y1 = 3% SO2 by volume = 0.Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ Example 112 Using the data and results from Example 111. Solution 1. Y1. X1.9 m3/min (3.000 acfm) containing 3% SO2 by volume. Then. Material balance for Example 112 2. sketch and label the drawing of the system as shown in Figure 119. The temperature is 293°K and the pressure is 101.10) (0. Y1 and Y2. compute the minimum liquid rate of pure water required to remove 90% of the SO2 from a gas stream of 84.003 mole fraction of SO2 Figure 119. will be in equilibrium with the liquid mole fraction of pollutants leaving the absorber. the gas mole fraction of pollutants going into the absorber. At equilibrium: Y1 = H ′ X1 1122 2. Determine the mole fractions of the pollutants in the gas phase. (the liquid will be saturated with SO2).03 mole fraction of SO2 Y2 = 90% reduction of SO2 from inlet concentration = (10%) (Y1) = (0.
to the exhaust gas molar flow rate. convert the volume of gas from 0 to 20°C (from 273 to 293°K). At 20°C: 293 3 0. Y1 − Y2 = Therefore.4 m3/min 2.000703 3.0224 m3/gmole for an ideal gas. Gm (from units of m3/min to units of gmole/min). there are 0.mol of water g .024 m3 Given: QG = 89. First.003 = G m 0.07/98 1123 .7 X1 = mole fraction of SO 2 in air mole fraction of SO 2 in water Y1 H′ 0.000703 − 0 = 38.03 = 42. Lm Y − Y2 = 1 G m X1 − X 2 Lm 0.Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ and Henry’s law constant from Example 111 is H ′ = 42.mol = 0. 1 g .03 − 0.mol of air G m = QG 0. Calculate the minimum liquidtogas ratio using Equation 1115.4 g .024 m / g . QG.7 = 0.0224 m 3 / g .mol of air 273 Therefore. At 0°C and 101. Convert the exhaust stream flow rate.3 kPa.mol of air Lm ( X1 − X 2 ) Gm 4.
mol of air g .0 min kg .07/98 .024 m3 = 3. AC AC = = = 1.6 1124 2.mol of air / min 5.mol of air Gm Therefore.5 (38.mol G m = 89.4 m3 / min 0.4) Gm = 3.000 = 136.4) 57. To obtain the actual operating line.5 AB 1.538 g .448 kg/min 6.538 g .mol = 2. Figure 1110 illustrates the graphical solution for this problem.mol of water min kg .538 gmol of air/min From step 4: (Lm )min = 3. Calculate the minimum liquid flow rate. Lmin.Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ 1 g .mol of water min = 38.mol of air 38. multiply the minimum operating line by 1.0 Converting to mass units : kg .mol of water min g . Lm g .4 g .4 g .mol 18 kg = 136.5.mol of water min = 136. ( Lm )min = G m (38. The minimum liquidtogas ratio was calculated in step 3.
Using an extremely largediameter tower would eliminate this problem. A typical operating range for the gas velocity through the columns is 50 to 75% of the flooding velocity. A further increase in gas velocity will cause the liquid to completely fill the void spaces in the packing. the cost of the tower increases. Normal practice is to size a packed column diameter to operate at a certain percent of the flooding velocity. It is assumed that. 2. This condition is referred to as flooding. by operating in this range. a point will be reached where the liquid flowing down over the packing begins to be held in the void spaces between the packing. the gas velocity will also be below the loading point. However. answer the questions in Part 3 of the Review Exercise and work problem 1. Sizing a Packed Tower Packed Tower Diameter The main parameter affecting the size of a packed column is the gas velocity at which liquid droplets become entrained in the exiting gas stream. The pressure drop increases substantially. The liquid forms a layer over the top of the packing and no more liquid can flow down through the tower. Graphical solution to Example 112 To test your knowledge of the preceding section. This gastoliquid ratio is termed the loading point. Consider a packed column operating at set gas and liquid flow rates. as the diameter increases. If the gas flow rate through the column is gradually increased (by using smaller and smaller diameter columns). The pressure drop of the column begins to increase and the degree of mixing between the phases decreases. the gas flow rate (m/s or ft/sec) through the column will increase. and the gas velocity at which it occurs is the flooding velocity.07/98 1125 . By decreasing the diameter of the column.Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ Figure 1110. and mixing between the phases is minimal.
Knowing minimum unacceptable diameter. this sets a minimum tower diameter for a given set of gas/liquid conditions. was developed from experimental data.07/98 . a larger. setting a minimum column diameter) is to use a generalized flooding and pressure drop correlation. the terms and units must be used as presented since the relationships are based on empirical data. knowing the physical properties of the gas and liquid streams and tower packing characteristics. shown in Figure 1111 (Calvert et al.Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ A common and relatively simple procedure for estimating flooding velocity (thus. Figure 1111. Generalized flooding and pressure drop correlation Source: Calvert et al. 1972. Figure 1111. The “Y” axis (ordinate). 1972). In Figure 1111. operating diameter can be specified. One version of the flooding and pressure drop relationship for a packed tower is in the Sherwood correlation. The graph is used to predict what conditions will cause flooding to occur. 1126 2. is also a function of the gas and liquid properties as well as the packing material utilized. The “X” axis (or abscissa) is a function of the physical properties of the gas and liquid streams. Since flooding is an unacceptable operating condition.
5 (1117) Where: G' = ρg ρl gc F = = = = φ = µl = mass flow rate of gas per unit crosssectional area of column.2 ( ) 0.07/98 1127 . ε.2 ft/sec2) packing factor given in Table 115 for different types of packing (Bhatia 1977) ratio of specific gravity of the scrubbing liquid to that of water viscosity of liquid 4. 9. G' at operating conditions is a fraction of G' at flooding conditions. ( ε ) ρg (ρ1 )(g c ) G′ = Fφµ l0. kg/m3 (lb/ft3) density of the absorbing liquid. 3. g/s•m2 (lb/sec•ft2) density of the gas stream.5 (1116) mass flow rates (any consistent set of units may be used as long as the term is dimensionless) density of the gas stream density of the absorbing liquid 2. Calculate the value of the abscissa. L ρg Abscissa = G ρl Where: L and G ρg ρl = = = 0. Rearrange the equation of the ordinate and solve for G'. 1. kg/m3 (lb/ft3) gravitational constant.Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ The procedure to determine the tower diameter is given below. usually 50 to 75% 2. From the point calculated in Equation 1116. G′ operating = ( f ) G ′ flooding ( ) (1118) Where: f = the percent of flooding velocity. Calculate G' at operating conditions. proceed up the graph to the flooding line and read the ordinate.82 m/s2 (32.
00 3.) Weight (lb/ft2) Void fraction (%) Packing factor. 4A dt = π 0.5 Packing data1 Surface area.0 5.13 A0. Packing Size (in.75 3. a (ft2/ft3 packing volume) 114 58 36 28 19 128 63 31 274 155 79 32 300 190 78 36 63 33 27 104 63 31 Table 115.5 4.Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ 5. Calculate the diameter of the column from Equation 1120. A= G G′ operating (1119) 6.5 (1120) = 1.07/98 . Calculate the crosssectional area of column A from Equation 1119.25 7.5 65 70 72 75 77 84 92 92 63 64 68 75 75 78 77 79 91 93 94 87 90 92 580 155 95 65 37 300 115 57 900 240 110 45 725 200 98 40 30 20 15 97 52 25 Continued on next page Intalox saddles (plastic) Pall rings (plastic) 1128 2. F (ft2/ft3) Raschig rings (ceramic and porcelain) Raschig rings (steel) Berl saddles (ceramic and porcelain) Intalox saddles (ceramic) 1/2 1 1 1/2 2 3 1/2 × 1/32 1 × 1/32 2 × 1/16 1/4 1/2 1 2 1/4 1/2 1 2 1 2 3 5/8 1 2 52 44 42 38 34 77 40 38 55 54 48 38 54 45 44 42 6.
For Example 112.5 times the minimum flow rate: L = Lmin × 1.672 kg/min Assuming the molecular weight of the exhaust gas is 29 kg/mol.0 55 38 30 87 93 92 40 20 15 Example 113 This example illustrates the use of Figure 1111 for computing the minimum allowable diameter for a packed tower.018 thick 1 1/2 × . was 2. For the scrubber in Example 112. (continued) Packing data1 104 39 93 95 73 28 38 24 7. Lmin.6 kg/min 2.448 kg/min. Note: Data for guide purposes only. convert the gas molar flow rate (Gm) to mass flow rate (G). Using Equation 1116.538 gmol/min)(29 kg/kgmol) = (3. determine the column diameter if the operating liquid rate is 1.03 thick Tellerettes 1 2 3 1. Gm. The gas velocity should be no greater than 75% of the flooding velocity. the gas molar flow rate in the absorber.5 3.448 kg/min) (1. Solution 1. The actual liquid flow rate in the absorber should be 1.5 times the minimum.5 = (2. and the packing material is twoinch ceramic Intalox saddles.9 5.5 2.538 kgmol/min)(29 kg/kgmol) = 102. calculate the abscissa for Figure 1111. Pall rings (metal) 5/8 × 0.5) = 3.07/98 1129 . Source: Bhatia 1977.Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ Table 115. G = Gm × (29 kg/kgmol) G = (3. L ρg Abscissa = G ρl 0. Determine the actual gas and liquid flow rates for the system. was 3.538 gmol/min and the minimum liquid flow rate.
ε = 0.17 kg/m3 ρl = 1.07/98 .672 117 Abscissa = 102.000 kg/m3 . 3. move up to the flooding line and read the value of ε on the ordinate.5 3.22. Generalized flooding and pressure drop correlation for Example 113 1130 2.6 1.Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ The densities of air and water at 30°C are: ρg = 1. with the abscissa of 1. Using Figure 1112.000 0.019 Figure 1112.
97 kg/s•m2 2.2 (1)(131)(0. The superficial flooding velocity is the flow rate per unit of crosssectional area of the tower. G′ = 0.63 kg/s•m2 G'operating = (0.0008) = 2.0008 Pa•s. G' using Equation 1117.019)(117)(1000)(9. G′operating = (f)(G′flooding) Where: f = 75% From step 4: G'flooding = 2. density of air at 30°C 1. the viscosity of liquid 0.63 kg / s • m2 at flooding 5.5 Given: ρg ρl gc F φ = = = = = µl = From step 3: ε = 1.07/98 1131 . ( ε ) ρg (ρl )(g c ) G′ = Fφµ l 0.82 m/s2.000 kg/m3.5 (0.75)(2. Calculate the superficial flooding velocity.Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ 4. density of water at 30°C 9.2 ( ) 0. the packing factor for twoinch ceramic Intalox saddles (see Table 115) 1.63 kg/s •m2) = 1.0. Calculate the superficial gas velocity at operating conditions (G'operating) using Equation 1118. the ratio of specific gravity of the scrubbing liquid(water) to that of water 0. the gravitational constant 40 ft2/ft3 (131 m2/m3).82) .019 0.17 kg/m3.
05 m ≈ 1. Calculate the crosssectional area of the packed tower using Equation 1119.6 kg / min)(1 min / 60 sec) 1. 314 = 1. A= G G′ operating From step 1: From step 5: G = 102. plug G'operating back into Equation 1117 and rearrange the equation to get the ordinate.97 kg / s • m2 = 0. once the superficial gas velocity for operating conditions has been set. 4A dt = π 0.87) dt = .14 From step 6: A = 0. First. ∆p.87 m2 4(0. Calculate the tower diameter using Equation 1120. ε. Use Figure 1111 to estimate the pressure drop across the absorber.5 Where: π = 3.5 8.1 m 0 . 1132 2.97 kg/s•m2 A= (102.Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ 6.87 m2 7.6 kg/min G'operating = 1.07/98 .
22.0106 and the abscissa equals 1. the larger the packing height required. Generalized flooding and pressure drop correlation for Example 113 Packed Tower Height The height of a packed column refers to the depth of packing material needed to accomplish the required removal efficiency. a much larger packing height would be required to remove SO2 than to remove chlorine (Cl) from an exhaust stream using water as the absorbent because Cl is more soluble in water than SO2 is.97 kg / s • m ) (1)(131 m / m )(0.82 m / s ) 2 2 3 2 3 3 2 0. Determining the proper height of packing is important since it affects both the rate and efficiency of absorption.07/98 1133 . The pressure drop equals 0.2 ε= ρg ρ l g c (1.0106 The ordinate equals 0. 2. read ∆p.Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ G ′ 2 φFµ l0.0008 Pa • s) ε= .000 kg / m )(9. (117 kg / m )(1. Figure 1113.0416 m of water/m of packing. The more difficult the separation. For example. Then from Figure 1113.2 = 0.
These assumptions are: (1) that the absorption process is carried out in a series of contacts. either Equation 115 or 116 is used as the starting point to derive an equation to predict column height. or stages. and (2) that the streams leaving these stages are in equilibrium with each other. in design terminology it is treated as discrete sections (transfer units) in order to perform a mass balance around a small subsection of the tower. Although a packed column operates as one continuous separation (differential contactor) process. The general form of the design equation for a gasphase controlled resistance is given in Equation 1121. gmol/h•m2•Pa interfacial contact area. Using the concept of transfer units. These equations are based on diffusion principles.07/98 . The stages can be visualized as the height of an individual transfer unit and the total tower height is equal to the number of transfer units times the height of each unit. Z= 1 G′ dY ∫ (1 − Y)(Y − Y *) K OG aP Y 2 Y (1121) Where: Z = G' = KOG = a P Y1 Y2 Y* = = = = = height of packing. Plate towers operate in this manner where they have discrete contact sections.Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ A number of theoretical equations are used to predict the required packing height. m height of a transfer unit. Equation 1121 can be simplified to: Z = HTU × NTU (1122) Where: Z HTU NTU = = = height of packing. the term G'/KOGaP has the dimension of meters and is defined as the height of a transfer unit. g/s•m2 overall masstransfer coefficient based on the gas phase. kPa inlet gas pollutant concentration outlet gas pollutant concentration pollutant concentration in gas at equilibrium In analyzing Equation 1121. The term inside the integral is dimensionless and represents the number of transfer units needed to make up the total packing height. A material balance is then set up over a small differential section (height) of the column. The number and the height of a transfer unit are based on either the gas or the liquid phase. Equation 1122 now becomes: 1134 2. m number of transfer units The concept of a transfer unit comes from the assumptions used in deriving Equation 1121. Depending on which phase is controlling the absorption process. m mass flow rate of gas per unit crosssectional area of column. m2 pressure of the system.
Equation 1124 can be derived from the integral portion of Equation 1121. NTU. 2. KOL height of a transfer unit based on an overall gasfilm coefficient. m height of a transfer unit based on an overall liquidfilm coefficient. For the case where the solute concentration is very low and the equilibrium line is straight. kgmol/h molar flow rate of liquid. can be obtained experimentally or calculated from a variety of methods.07/98 1135 . Y − mX 2 mG m mG m ln 1 1 − + Lm Lm Y2 − mX 2 = mG m 1− Lm N OG (1124) Where: NOG Y1 Y2 m X2 Gm Lm = = = = = = = number of transfer units based on an overall gasfilm coefficient. next read up the graph to the line corresponding to (mGm/Lm). The Colburn diagram is a plot of the NOG versus ln[Y1 − mX2/Y2 − mX2] at various values of (mGm/Lm). m number of transfer units based on an overall gasfilm coefficient. kgmol/h Equation 1124 may be solved directly or graphically by using the Colburn diagram. first compute the value of [Y1 − mX2/Y2 − mX2]. KOG mole fraction of solute in entering gas mole fraction of solute in exiting gas slope of equilibrium line mole fraction of solute entering the column molar flow rate of gas. The term (mGm/Lm) is referred to as the absorption factor. KOG number of transfer units based on an overall liquidfilm coefficient. which is presented in Figure 1113.Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ Z = NOGHOG = NOLHOL (1123) Where: Z = NOG = NOL = HOG = HOL = height of packing. Equation 1124 can be used to determine the number of transfer units (NOG) based on the gasphase resistance. m The number of transfer units. and then read across to obtain the NOG. In using Figure 1114.
In these cases. therefore. Colburn diagram Source: Perry 1973.3 transfer units.07/98 . 1136 2. Equation 1125 applies only when the equilibrium line is straight and the slope approaches zero (for very soluble or reactive gases). For either of these cases. achieving 90% removal of any pollutant requires 2. the solute exhibits almost no partial pressure.Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ Figure 1114. Equation 1124 can be further simplified for situations where a chemical reaction occurs or if the solute is extremely soluble. if the conditions of Equation 1125 are met. the slope of the equilibrium line approaches zero (m → 0). Equation 1124 reduces to Equation 1125. For example. N OG = ln Y1 Y2 (1125) The number of transfer units depends only on the inlet and outlet concentration of the solute.
a system would need less Tellerette packing to accomplish the same removal. the superficial liquid flow rate is plotted versus the HOG with the superficial gas rate as a parameter. These graphs do not provide the accuracy of pilot plant data. For a given liquid flow rate. Figure 1115. Additional information on other gasliquid systems can be found in Chemical Engineers' Handbook (Perry 1973). In applying these data.07/98 1137 .Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ Values for the height of a transfer unit used in designing absorption systems are usually obtained from experimental data. In this figure. To ensure greatest accuracy. Column packing comparison for ammonia and water system 2. but are less expensive and easier to use. Therefore. Figure 1115 gives a typical example of these graphs for an ammonia and water system. For this example the Tellerettes would be more efficient. manufacturers have developed graphs for estimating HTU. vendors of absorption equipment normally perform pilot plant studies to determine the HTU. It is also common to plot gas rate versus the HOG and have the liquid rate as a parameter. For common absorption systems. the height of a transfer unit for the 1inch Tellerettes is less than that for the 11/2 inch Raschig rings. process conditions must be similar to conditions at which the HTU was measured. such as NH3 and water.
Wet Scrubber System Study.829 m (2.5 kgmol/min 3.672 kg/min × kgmol/18 kg = 204 kgmol/min 0 (no recycle liquid) 0.2 m (1 to 4 ft) (Calvert 1977). As a rough estimate.6 m (2. Henry’s law constant for the equilibrium diagram for SO2 and water system (see Example 111). mole fraction of solute in entering gas 42. For most applications. System temperature These correlations can be found in engineering texts such as Chemical Engineers' Handbook (Perry 1973).3 and 1.003 1138 2.03 Y2.07/98 . 0. Example 114 From pilot plant studies of the absorption system in Example 112 it was determined that the HOG for the SO2water system is 0.Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ When no experimental data are available.0 ft) can be used. molar flow rate of gas Lm. the height of a transfer unit ranges between 0. The correlations for predicting the HOG or the HOL are empirical in nature and are a function of: 1. 1972). or if only a preliminary estimate of absorber efficiency is needed. mole fraction of solute in existing gas 0. or Mass Transfer Operations (Treybal 1968).mol of water kg . Concentration and solubility of the pollutant 4. Gm.7 kg . Liquid properties 5. Calculate the total height of packing required to achieve 90% removal. mole fraction of solute in entering liquid Y1. The following data were taken from the previous examples. molar flow rate of liquid X2. m. Volume I (Calvert et al. generalized correlations are available to predict the height of a transfer unit. Type of packing 2.mol of air 3.72 ft). Liquid and gas flow rates 3.
Methods for estimating the diameter of a plate tower and the theoretical number of plates follow. N OG Y − mX 2 mG m mG m ln 1 1 − + Lm Lm Y2 − mX 2 = mG m 1− Lm 0.003 = ( 42. or steps. The method for determining the liquid flow rate in the plate tower is the same as previously discussed. using Equation 1124.7)(3. Here.04 m = = (0.829 m. These are commonly referred to as discrete stages. using Equation 1123.04) 4.Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ Solution 1.5) ln + 1 − 204 204 0. Calculate the total packing height.7)(3. or stage.829 m)(5. Calculate the number of transfer units. 2.7)(3. absorption occurs on each plate.03 ( 42.5) ( 42. answer the questions in Part 4 of the Review Exercise and work problem 2. The following discussion presents a simplified method for sizing or reviewing the design plans of a plate tower.04 N OG 2.5) 1− 204 = 5. Z. If the gas velocity is too fast. liquid droplets are entrained. Plate Tower Diameter The minimum diameter of a singlepass plate tower is determined by using the gas velocity through the tower. NOG.07/98 1139 .18 m of packing height To test your knowledge of the preceding section. Sizing a Plate Tower Another scrubber used extensively for gas absorption is a plate tower. height of a transfer unit NOG = 5. Z Given: From step 1: Z = HOG × NOG HOG = 0.
0140 0. trays are spaced with a minimum distance between plates to allow the gas and liquid phases to separate before reaching the plate above.) apart. If the specific gravity of a liquid varies significantly from 1. Metric Ψ is expressed in m0. m3/h empirical correlation. Trays should be spaced to allow for easy maintenance and cleaning. and ρ expressed in kg/m3. and ρg expressed in lb/ft3. English Ψ is expressed in ft0. Priming reduces absorber efficiency by inhibiting gas and liquid contact.25 h0.Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ causing a condition known as priming.5/kg0. for use with QG in cfm.25.1386 0.07/98 . For the purpose of determining tower diameter. priming in a plate tower is analogous to the flooding point in a packed tower. the values for ψ in Table 116 cannot be used. b.0162 0.05. for use with QG expressed in m3/h. Figure 1116 is used to determine the correction factor. Trays are normally spaced 45 to 70 cm (18 to 28 in. Priming occurs when the gas velocity through the tower is so fast that it causes liquid on one tray to foam and then rise to the tray above. Example 115 illustrates how to estimate the minimum diameter of a plate tower. It determines the minimum acceptable diameter. Tray Bubble cap Sieve Valve g Empirical constants for Equation 1126 Metric Ψa 0. The actual diameter should be larger.5/lb0.05 (Calvert et al. Table 116. Depending on operating conditions. In using Table 116 for a tray spacing different from 61 cm. 1972.1069 a. a correction factor must be used.25 gas density. d t = ψ Q G ρg ( ) 0.25h0. which is multiplied by the estimated diameter. kg/m3 The term ψ is an empirical correlation and is a function of both the tray spacing and the densities of the gas and liquid streams. The smallest allowable diameter for a plate tower is expressed in Equation 1126.1198 0. m0.5 (1126) Where: QG = ψ = ρg = volumetric gas flow. Source: Calvert et al.25 min0.) and a liquid specific gravity of 1.0125 English Ψb 0. 1140 2. 1972). Values for ψ in Table 116 are for a tray spacing of 61 cm (24 in.5/kg0.25.
53 m (21 in.) apart.5 From Example 112. Solution To determine the minimum acceptable diameter of the plate tower.Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ Figure 1116. Example 115 For the conditions described in Example 112.17 kg/m3 ρg.07/98 1141 . the following information is obtained: QG. gas density 2.9 m3/min = 1. 1972. The trays are spaced 0. we will use Equation 1126: d t = ψ Q G ρg ( ) 0. gas flow rate = 84. determine the minimum acceptable diameter if the scrubber is a bubblecap tray tower. Tray spacing correction factor Source: Calvert et al.
ψ. From Table 116. Determine the empirical constant.0162 m0.5 4. Calculate the minimum diameter. QG = (84. [ ( )] 0. of the plate tower using Equation 1126. 3.0162 m0.5/kg0. Figure 1117.0162) 5.094 m3/h 2.25. the value for ψ is 0.17 kg/m3 5.5 Given: From step 1: From step 2: ρg = QG = ψ = 1. = 12 m . Convert the gas flow rate.9 m3/min) (60 min/hr) = 5.25 d t = (0. to units of m3/h.05. Read a correction factor of 1.Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ 1.25 h0. Tray spacing correction factor for Example 115 1142 2.094 m3/h 0. QG. Correct the diameter using Figure 1116.094 117 . The tray spacing for each tray is 0.53 m but the values in Table 116 are for a tray spacing of 0. dt = ψ Q ( G ρg ) 0.5/kg0. dt.07/98 .25 h0.61 m.
can become quite complicated.26 m Note: The value of 1.2 m (1. and inaccuracies can result at both ends of the graph. Graphic determination of the number of theoretical plates 2. One method used is a graphical technique. Number of Theoretical Plates Several methods are used to determine the number of ideal plates. This procedure is illustrated in Figure 1118. Adjust the minimum plate tower diameter value by using the correction factor. required for a given removal efficiency. The number of ideal plates is obtained by drawing "steps" on an operating diagram. These methods. however. This method can be rather time consuming.26 m is the minimum estimated tower diameter based on priming conditions. In practice.07/98 1143 .Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ 5. Figure 1118. or trays. Adjusted d t = d t ( from step 3) × correction factor d t = 1.05) = 1. a larger diameter based on economic conditions is usually chosen.
Murphree efficiency. Estimate the total height of the column if the trays are spaced at 0. Example 116 Calculate the number of theoretical plates required for the scrubber in Example 115 using the same conditions as those in Example 114.Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ Equation 1127 is a simplified method used to estimate the number of plates. taken from Sherwood and Pigford (1952). which is concerned with the entire column 2. This is a valid assumption for most air pollution control systems. or HETP instead of HTU. The operating conditions for a theoretical plate assume that the gas and liquid streams leaving the plate are in equilibrium with each other.07/98 . The simplest of tray efficiency concepts. overall tray efficiencies for absorbers operating with lowviscosity liquid normally fall in a 65 to 80% range (Zenz 1972). A larger number of actual trays are required to compensate for this decreased tray efficiency. is derived in the same manner as Equation 1124 for computing the NOG of a packed tower. Local efficiency. The difference is that Equation 1127 is based on a stepwise solution instead of a continuous contactor. This ideal condition is never achieved in practice. is the ratio of the number of theoretical plates to the number of actual plates. which is applicable with a single plate 3. Three types of efficiencies are used to describe absorption efficiency for a plate tower: 1. An overall efficiency. as is the packed tower. These methods are complex.) Y − mX 2 mG m mG m ln 1 1 − + Lm Lm Y2 − mX 2 Np = L ln m mG m (1127) This equation is used to predict the number of theoretical plates required to achieve a given removal efficiency. (Note: This derivation is referred to as the height equivalent to a theoretical plate. This equation. and assume an overall tray efficiency of 70%. reliable values are difficult to obtain. This equation can only be used if both the equilibrium and operating lines for the system are straight. Since overall tray efficiency is an oversimplification of the process. which pertains to a specific location on a plate A number of methods are available to predict these plate efficiencies. For a rough estimate. 1144 2. and values predicted by two different methods for a given system can vary by as much as 80% (Zenz 1972). the overall efficiency.53m intervals.
7)(3. by using the following equation: Z = (Np × tray spacing) + top height of tower 2.7)(3.94 theoretical plates 2.5 kgmol/min.6 or 6 plates (since you can’t have a fraction of a plate) 3.70 Actual plates = Actual plates = = 5.003 − 0 Np = 204 ln ( 42.003 mole fraction 0. (outlet gas) X2. (inlet liquid)= Lm Gm = 42. (inlet gas) Y2.Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ Solution 1.03 mole fraction = 0.07/98 1145 . the following data are obtained: m Y1. Estimate the number of theoretical plates by using Equation 1127. Z. Estimate the actual number of plates assuming that the overall efficiency of each plate is 70%.7. Estimate the height of the tower.7)(3. the molar flow rate of gas 0. Henry’s law equilibrium constant = 0.94 0.5) ( 42. estimated plates 70% 3.03 − 0 ( 42. Y − mX 2 mG m mG m ln 1 1 − + Lm Lm Y 2 − mX 2 Np = Lm ln mG m From Example 115 and the previous examples.5) ln + 1 − 204 204 0.5) = 3.0 mole fraction = 204 kgmol/min. the molar flow rate of liquid = 3.
07/98 .Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ The top height of the tower is the distance that allows the gasvapor mixture to separate. To test your knowledge of the preceding section. The agency engineer should also require that the source owner/operator submit an operation and maintenance schedule that will help keep the scrubber system on line. Other scrubbing systems can be used for absorption. This seems logical since both packed and plate towers are efficient gasabsorption devices. no concrete generalization can be made.71 m Note: This height is approximately the same as that predicted for the packed tower in Example 114. Both are based on solubility.53 = 3. can achieve high collection efficiencies for a wide variety of gases. Some of the equations are empirical and are applicable only under a similar set of conditions. Both of these devices. and cyclonic scrubbers are designed assuming the performance is equivalent to one single equilibrium stage (i.18 + 0. However. Summary For gas absorption. state. This distance is usually the same distance as the tray spacing. 1146 2..53 m) + 0. if designed and operated properly. The equations and procedures used in designing packed and plate towers are very similar.e. due to the many assumptions. the agency engineer should check its files or another agency's files for similar applications for absorber installations. venturis. and federal regulations. but are limited to cases where the gases are highly soluble. NOG = 1) (Perry 1973). spray towers. For example. answer the questions in Part 5 of the Review Exercise and work problem 3. Care must be taken when applying any of the equations presented in this lesson (or in other texts). When checking the design plans for the permit process. A review of these data will help determine if the absorber design specifications submitted by the industrial source's officials are adequate to achieve pollutant removal efficiency for compliance with the regulations. whereas those for a packed tower are based on a continuouscontacting process. and the geometry of the tower.53 m = 3. The agency engineer should require the source owner/operator to conduct stack tests (once the source is operating) to determine if the source is in compliance with local. Used correctly. Z = (6 plates) (0. the masstransfer model. these procedures can be a useful tool in checking absorber designs or in determining the effect of a process change on absorber operation. the two devices most often used are the packed tower and the plate tower. The main difference is that the equations for a plate tower are based on a stepwise process.
c. Increases b. What is one form of the equation for Henry's law? a. as the temperature of the system increases. In the absorption process. x = Hp H = xp H = x/y y = H'x 7. A concentration gradient 6. the ____________________ Henry's law constant is. c.07/98 1147 . An equilibrium diagram c. b. Decreases 5. c. a. which is/are the best device(s) for removing gaseous pollutants from process exhaust streams? a. b. e. d. b. Larger 2. d. A very important factor affecting the amount of a pollutant that can be absorbed is its ____________________. d. The partial pressure b. In describing the solubility of various gases in water. the more soluble the gas is. Of the wet collectors listed below. 4. A plot of the mole fraction of the solute in the liquid phase versus the mole fraction of the solute in the gas phase is called: a. Smaller b. the solute is the: a. Packed tower Plate tower Venturi scrubber Centrifugal scrubber a and b 2.Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ Review Exercise Questions Part 1 1. the amount of pollutant that can be absorbed ____________________. a. Inert portion of the gas stream Area where the gas phase and liquid phase come into contact with each other Gaseous pollutant that is absorbed Capability of a gas to be dissolved in a liquid 3. In an absorber.
Partial pressure 11. a. Transfer unit 14. Droplet 9. or twofilm theory. a. the mass of the pollutant is usually very ____________________ compared to the mass of exhaust gas being treated and the mass of the liquid used in the absorber. Energy balance c. Total pressure c.07/98 . Large 1148 2. Soluble b. 10. In calculating the rate of mass transfer of pollutant A. Equilibrium concentration of pollutant A Masstransfer coefficient for the gas film Masstransfer coefficient for the liquid film Overall masstransfer coefficient based on the gas phase ( ) 12. In absorption calculations. NA. In absorption equations. using the equation N A = KOG pAG − p* . Diffusion rate b. the term KOG is the: A a. a ____________________ zone exists that includes a gas and liquid phase on either side of the interface. the concentration of a gaseous pollutant is usually expressed by its: a. a(an) ____________________ equates the gas and liquid concentrations coming into the absorber with the gas and liquid concentrations going out of the absorber. Part 3 13. True or False? Overall masstransfer coefficients are only valid when a plot of the equilibrium data yields an equilibrium line that is straight. In the doubleresistance. Small b. d. Masstransfer c. a. b. Material balance b. In air pollution calculations. c. True or False? The twofilm theory implies that all resistance to movement occurs when the molecule (gaseous pollutant) is diffusing through the gas and liquid films.Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ Part 2 8.
unless more liquid is added. Lm/Gm (actual) 17. Minimum liquidtogas ratio b.07/98 1149 . The slope of the actual operating line is: a. Minimum operating line 16. point B represents absorber conditions where the liquid leaving the absorber is saturated with the pollutant and can no longer absorb any additional pollutant.Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ 15. In the graph below. Actual operating line c. Gm/Lm (actual) c. the line AB is the: a. 2. True or False? In the following figure. Equilibrium line b.
d.2 m (1 to 4 ft) c. G. b. 0. the height of a transfer unit can be estimated to be: a. Transfer units b. 100% c. 23. In designing a packed tower. Z. True or False? The Colburn diagram can be used to estimate the number of transfer units based on an overall gasfilm coefficient. Type of packing Liquid and gas flow rates Pollutant concentration and solubility Liquid properties and system temperature All of the above 24. and the liquid recycle concentrations are known. 3 to 4. and the gas flow rate. through the absorber are known. the inlet and outlet pollutant concentrations. a. For most packed tower applications.07/98 . if the minimum liquid rate. 1. NOG.82 to 3 m (6 to 10 ft) 1150 2. Gasfilm coefficients c. if the absorption factor (mGm/Lm). In estimating packing height in a packed tower. the normal practice is to make the tower diameter so that the unit will operate at ____________________ of the flooding velocity rate.Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ Part 4 18. Lm. 50 to 75% b.6 m (10 to 15 ft) b. The packing height. 150% 19. the packing sections are broken up into discrete sections called: a. The height of a transfer unit is a function of: a. can be estimated from the following equation: Z = HTU × NTU What are the terms HTU and NTU? HTU: ________________________________________________________________ NTU: ________________________________________________________________ 22. 20. c. True or False? The Sherwood correlation can be used to calculate the tower diameter of a packed tower.3 to 1. Liquidfilm coefficients 21. e.
priming in a plate tower is the same as the flooding point in a packed tower. the following equation Y − mX 2 mG m mG m ln 1 1 − + Lm Lm Y2 − mX 2 Np = L ln m mG m is used to calculate the: a.07/98 1151 . In plate towers. 27. a. Priming 26. In a plate tower. is usually ____________________. In a plate tower. Number of transfer units based on an overall gasfilm coefficient b. 90 to 100% 2. causing a condition called: a. True or False? For the purpose of determining a platetower diameter. 65 to 80% c. 20 to 30% b. Number of theoretical plates 28. the efficiency of each plate. Streaking c. Pumping b. liquid droplets become entrained in the gas stream. if the gas velocity through the tower is too fast.Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ Part 5 25. or tray. Number of transfer units based on Henry's law constant c.
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Problem 1
A medical waste incinerator utilizes a packed scrubber to remove HCl and other soluble gases. Given the operating conditions below, estimate the scrubbing liquid volumetric flow rate, QL, (essentially water with some caustic added to control pH) to achieve the required removal efficiency. QG, gas flow Y1, concentration of HCI in inlet gas Y2, concentration of HCI in outlet gas X2, concentration of HCI in inlet liquid m, Henry’s Law equilibrium constant actual flow rate ρl, density of water R, ideal gas constant at 70°F molecular weight of water molecular weight of HCI 15,000 acfm at 500oF 1,000 ppm or 47 lb/hr 30 ppm or 1.4 lb/hr 0 1.1 1.5 times minimum 8.35 lb/gal 380 scf/lbmole 18 lb/mole 36 lb/mole
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Problem 1: Student Worksheet
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Problem 1: Student Worksheet (cont’d)
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Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ Problem 2 A sewage treatment plant utilizes a countercurrent flow. can the present tower accommodate the added flows? Existing Proposed QG.01 45 ft3 4 ft 12.000 acfm 100 gal/min 70oF 0. density of gas φ.018 centipoise 64 lb/ft3 0.07/98 1157 . packing factor tower diameter Constants and assumptions: R. ratio of specific gravity of scrubbing liquid to that of water F. viscosity of liquid ρl. Because of development in the area. the treatment plant needs to increase capacity by 25%. volumetric flow rate of gas QL.134 ft3 molecular weight of flue gas (assume it is essentially air) 1 gal Problem 2: Student Worksheet (This space is provided for you to work problem 2) 2.018 centipoise 64 lb/ft3 0.01 45 ft3 4 ft 380 scf/lbmole 32. temperature of gas µl.500 acfm 125 gal/min 70oF 0. volumetric flow rate of liquid T.075 lb/ft3 1.2 lb/sec2 29 lb/lbmole 0. packed bed scrubber to control odor emissions. gravitational constant 10. ideal gas constant (at 70°F) gc. Given the data below.075 lb/ft3 1. The scrubbing liquid uses potassium permanganate solution in water and the packing material is 1 inch Berl ceramic saddles. density of liquid ρg.
07/98 .Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ Problem 2: Student Worksheet (cont’d) (This space is provided for you to work problem 2) 1158 2.
Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ Problem 2: Student Worksheet (cont’d) (This space is provided for you to work problem 2) 2.07/98 1159 .
Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ 1160 2.07/98 .
000 acfm at 500oF 1. Assume that the top spacing is also 2 ft. volumetric liquid flow rate ρl. the ideal gas constant (at 70°F) molecular weight of water 15.1 0 123 gal/min 8. concentration of HCI in entering gas Y2.00003 mole fraction 1. volumetric gas flow rate Y1. estimate the total height of a column if tray spacing is 2 ft and the overall tray efficiency is 70%.35 lb/gal 380 scf/lbmole 18 lb/mole Problem 3: Student Worksheet (This space is provided for you to work problem 3) 2. QG.07/98 1161 .01 mole fraction 30 ppm or 0.Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ Problem 3 Calculate the number of theoretical plates required by a scrubber given the data below. concentration of HCI in exiting gas m. concentration of HCI in inlet liquid QL.000 ppm or 0. density of water R. Also. Henry’s law equilibrium constant X2.
Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ Problem 3: Student Worksheet (cont’d) (This space is provided for you to work problem 3) 1162 2.07/98 .
True The twofilm theory implies that all resistance to movement occurs when the molecule (gaseous pollutant) is diffusing through the gas and liquid films. y = H'x 7. the term KOG is the overall masstransfer coefficient based on the A gas phase. ( ) 2. the more soluble the gas is. the concentration of a gaseous pollutant is usually expressed by its partial pressure. Solubility A very important factor affecting the amount of a pollutant that can be absorbed is its solubility. the amount of pollutant that can be absorbed decreases. or twofilm theory. Smaller In describing the solubility of various gases in water. the smaller Henry's law constant is. 4. a mass transfer zone exists that includes a gas and liquid phase on either side of the interface. Overall masstransfer coefficient based on the gas phase In calculating the rate of mass transfer of pollutant A (i. 9. d. 6. y = H'x One form of the equation for Henry's law is: 2. 10. NA) using the equation N A = KOG pAG − p* . as the temperature of the system increases. Masstransfer In the doubleresistance. c. 3. An equilibrium diagram A plot of the mole fraction of the solute in the liquid phase versus the mole fraction of the solute in the gas phase is called an equilibrium diagram. d. Gaseous pollutant that is absorbed In the absorption process. the solute is the gaseous pollutant that is absorbed. a. b. Decreases In an absorber. Partial pressure In absorption equations. c. 11. 5. Part 2 8. e. b. b. a and b Packed towers and plate towers are better than venturi scrubbers and centrifugal scrubbers for removing gaseous pollutants from process exhaust streams.Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ Review Exercise Answers Answers to Questions Part 1 1.07/98 1163 .e.
c. 14. 1164 2. a. 15. Lm/Gm (actual) The slope of the actual operating line is Lm/Gm (actual). 16. Minimum operating line In the graph below. a material balance equates the gas and liquid concentrations coming into the absorber with the gas and liquid concentrations going out of the absorber. Material balance In absorption calculations.Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ 12. Small In air pollution calculations. True Overall masstransfer coefficients are only valid when a plot of the equilibrium data yields an equilibrium line that is straight. the mass of the pollutant is usually very small compared to the mass of exhaust gas being treated and the mass of the liquid used in the absorber. Part 3 13. c.07/98 . the line AB is the minimum operating line. a.
Z: HTU = height of a transfer unit NTU = number of transfer units 2. 19. True The Sherwood correlation can be used to calculate the tower diameter of a packed tower. Transfer units In estimating packing height in a packed tower. the normal practice is to make the tower diameter so that the unit will operate at 50 to 75% of the flooding velocity rate. 21.07/98 1165 . a. Lm.Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ 17. point B represents absorber conditions where the liquid leaving the absorber is saturated with the pollutant and can no longer absorb any additional pollutant. if the minimum liquid rate. and the gas flow rate. unless more liquid is added. 50 to 75% In designing a packed tower. HTU = height of a transfer unit NTU = number of transfer units In the equation. a. True In the following figure. Part 4 18. the packing sections are broken up into discrete sections called transfer units. 20. G. Z = HTU × NTU. through the absorber are known. which estimates the packing height.
the following equation: Y − mX 2 mG m mG m ln 1 1 − + Lm Lm Y2 − mX 2 Np = L ln m mG m is used to calculate the number of theoretical plates. the efficiency of each plate. Number of theoretical plates In a plate tower. 28. Part 5 25. 65 to 80% In plate towers. if the absorption factor (mGm/Lm). 23. e. NOG.3 to 1. 0. is usually 65 to 80%. b. True For the purpose of determining a platetower diameter.07/98 . the height of a transfer unit can be estimated to be 0. 27. if the gas velocity through the tower is too fast. the inlet and outlet pollutant concentrations. Priming In a plate tower. and the liquid recycle concentrations are known. priming in a plate tower is the same as the flooding point in a packed tower. True The Colburn diagram can be used to estimate the number of transfer units based on an overall gasfilm coefficient. b. or tray. c. c. liquid droplets become entrained in the gas stream.2 m (1 to 4 ft) For most packed tower applications.2 m (1 to 4 ft). 1166 2. causing a condition called priming.Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ 22.3 to 1. All of the above The height of a transfer unit is a function of the following: • Type of packing • Liquid and gas flow rates • Pollutant concentration and solubility • Liquid properties and system temperature 24. 26. See Figure 1114.
1.07/98 1167 .000 acf 460 + 70 lb .001 mole fraction 30 ppm or 0. the operating liquid flow rate. from acfm to molar units (Gm).mole × × min 460 + 500 380 scf = 21. should equal 123 gal/min.000 ppm or 0. QG.00003 mole fraction 0 ppm unknown 2. Determine mole fraction of HCl in gas and liquid phases.) Given: Y1 (gas in) Y2 (gas out) X2 (liquid in) X1 (liquid out) = = = = 1. Convert gas flow.Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ Solution to Problem 1 Answer: Solution: To achieve the required removal efficiency.mole/min 2.8 lb . (See Appendix A for help converting from ppm to mole fractions. QL. Gm = QG × temperature correction × to standard (in absolute units) R G m = 15.
8 lbmole/min) 1. At equilibrium: Y1 = m X1 X1 = Y1/m Given: m = 1.00091 4. in gallons per minute.07) From step 2: Gm = 21. the gas mole fraction of HCl entering the absorber.Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ 3. Calculate the concentration of HCl in the existing liquid (X1) at the minimum flow rate.07 = 37 lbmole/min lb .001 − 0.mole 8. Y1.mole 18 lb gal × × min lb . (Lm/Gm)min = 1. will be in equilibrium with the liquid mole fraction leaving the absorber.1 X1 = 0.00003 = m min (0. X1.8 lbmole/min (Lm)min = (21.001)/1. Henry’s law equilibrium constant X1 = (0.35 lb = 82 gal / min 1168 2.mole Convert from molar flow rate to volumetric flow rate (gal/min).07/98 . Compute the minimum Lm/Gm using the following equation: Y1 − Y2 = Lm (X1 − X 2 ) Gm L 0.07 = m min G m 5. At the minimum liquid flow rate.00091 − 0) G m L 1. min min imum Q L = 37 lb . Calculate the minimum liquid flow rate.1.07 (Lm)min = Gm (1.
5 × 82 gal / min = 123 gal / min 2. QL.Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ 6. Calculate operating liquid flow rate.07/98 1169 .5 × minimum liquid flow rate = 1. Operating Q L = 1.
07/98 .Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ 1170 2.
072 lb/min 0.mole = 954 lb / min Given: QL = 125 gal / min L = 125 0. A = πr 2 A = 0.Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ Solution to Problem 2 Answer: Solution: No. Convert the proposed gas and liquid volumetric flow rates to mass units.134 ft 3 64 lb gal × × 3 gal min ft = 1. Use equation 1116: L ρg Abscissa = × G ρl 0. the existing tower (as is) cannot accommodate additional flows.038 3. the density of liquid 1.500 acfm at 70° F G = 12.072 lb / min 2.5 From step 1: 3 1.mole 29 lb × × min 380 ft 3 lb . 1.500 ft 3 lb . Given: QG = 12. the density of gas 64 lb/ft3.7854 × d 2 2. Calculate the area of the tower using one of the following two equations.5 Given: ρg = ρl = L = G = 0.075 lb/ft Abscissa = 954 lb/min 64 lb/ft 3 = 0.07/98 1171 .072 lb/min 954 lb/min 0.075 lb/ft3. Calculate the abscissa in the flooding curve.
7854) (4 ft) 2 = 12. calculate the superficial gas velocity (G'). the density of liquid 32. (127 lb / sec • ft ) (45 ft )(1.56 ft 2 4. the ordinate in the flooding curve.2 lb/sec2. m2 (ft2) radius of tower. the gravitational constant From step 4: G' = 1.21 1172 2.075 lb / ft )(64 lb / ft )(32.07/98 .2 ε = .2 lb / sec ) 3 3 2 = 0. G ′ = G /A From step 1: From step 3: G = A = 954 lb/min 12. ε = G ′ 2 Fφ µ l0.27 lb / sec • ft 2 5.56 ft 2 min G′ = = 1. viscosity of liquid 0. m (ft) diameter of tower.018 centipoise.27 lb/sec•ft2 2 2 3 0. packing factor 1.Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ Where: A = r = d = area of crosssection of tower.56 ft2 954 lb min 1 × × 60 sec 12. ratio of the specific gravity of scrubbing liquid to that of water 0. the density of gas 64 lb/ft3.01)(0.018 centipoise) (0.2 ρg ρ l g c Given: F = φ = µl ρg ρl gc = = = = 45 ft3. m (ft) Given: d = 4 ft A = (0. Calculate ε.01. Next.075 lb/ft3.
by using 2 inch plastic Tellerettes with a factor (F) of 20. Note that the facility could still increase throughput and utilize the same tower by switching to a different packing material with a lower packing factor.09 which would be well within acceptable limits. For example.Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ From the coordinates on the graph in Figure 1111. 2.07/98 1173 . the new operating point (x = 0.038 and y = 0.21) would be above the flooding line and this is unacceptable. the new ε would be 0.
Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ 1174 2.07/98 .
01 mole fraction 0. Convert gas and liquid volumetric flow rates (QG and QL) to molar units (Gm and Lm).8 lbmole/min 57 lbmole/min 2. Calculate number of theoretical plates.07/98 1175 .mole / min 8.mole × × min 460 + 500 380 scf = 21.8 lb . Henry’s law equilibrium constant From step 1: Gm Lm = = 21.000 acf 460 + 70 lb .Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ Solution to Problem 3 Answer: Solution: Number of theoretical plates = 6. Np.08 Total height of column = 20 ft 1.1. Y − mX 2 mG m mG m ln 1 1 − + Lm Lm Y2 − mX 2 Np = L ln m mG m Given: Y1 (inlet gas) Y2 (outlet gas) X2 m = = = = 0.00003 mole fraction 0.mole / min Lm = 2.mole × × min gal 18 lb = 57 lb . Gm = QG × temperature correction × to standard (in absolute units) R Gm = 15. concentration of HCI in inlet liquid 1.35 lb 123 gal lb .
. Z. Actual plates = estimated theoretical plates overall efficiency Given: overall tray efficiency = 70% From step 2: Actual plates = = = estimated number of theoretical plates = 6.08 theoretical plates = 3.70 8.08/0.07/98 .08 6. .01 − 0 (11)(218) (11)(218) . 1176 2. Estimate the height of the tower.52 1n 2. ln + 1 − 57 57 0.Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ 0. . By increasing the liquid flow the tower height could be reduced. Calculate the number of actual plates.00003 − 0 Np = 57 ln . .37 = 6. Z = (Number plates) × (tray spacing) + top spacing Given: tray spacing = 2 ft top spacing = 2 ft From step 3: number of actual plates = 9 Z = (9 × 2 ft) + 2 ft Z = 20 ft Note this is a rather tall tower for this separation. (11)(218) 1n 193. by doubling the liquid flow rate the tower height could be reduced to half the size.7 plates 9 plates (since you can’t have a fractional plate) 4. For example.
1972. V. F. 31:365. I. Young (Eds. and J. Designing gas absorption towers. McCabe. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.). Vol. Absorption. S. 1958. D. Marchello. S. Buonicore. 79:120138. Cheremisinoff and R. R. 1976.S. Air Pollution Control Technology. 1935.). N. W. M. J. 43:1460. Wet Scrubber System Study. and C. Sherwood. Mehta. Whitman.. Cheremisinoff and R. J. 5th ed.S. New York: McGrawHill. In P. New York: Marcel Dekker. 1982. Goldschmid. T. 89:3856. Bhatia. and A. 29:147.. Perry. Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering. R. and D. H. 2. J. R. New York: McGrawHill. 1. M. August. Treybal. Journal of AIChE. L. Marchello. J. A. Smith. Industrial and Engineering Chemistry. J. 1978. J. New York: Marcel Dekker. 1923. U. In P. and R. Packed tower and absorption design. Unit Operations of Chemical Engineering. Environmental Protection Agency. G. V. P. 2nd ed. Leith. E. 1968. L. Industrial Control Equipment for Gaseous Pollutants. Part 2. Transactions of AIChE. Calvert. MacDonald. Air Pollution Control and Design Handbook. 1975.07/98 1177 . New York: Marcel Dekker. Higbie. Richards. 1972. 1951. New York: McGrawHill. W. J. N. 1967. Mass Transfer Operations. Maddox. 1952.. and R.. 1973. Zenz. 1977. Young (Eds. Absorption and Extraction. EPAR272118a. A.Design Review of Absorbers Used for Gaseous Pollutants ___________________________________________________________________________________ Bibliography Bethea. 1977. Control of Gaseous Emissions. K. H. N. Scrubber Handbook. Pigford. Danckwerts. W. Environmental Protection Agency.). U. A. M. Y. Theodore. Diab. Toor. 4:97.. Vol. L. Packed wet scrubbers. Air Pollution Control and Design Handbook. 1995. New York: McGrawHill. Chemical Engineers’ Handbook. (APTI Course 415). M. L. Control of Air Pollution Sources. Chemical Engineering. Cleveland: CRC Press. (Ed. Chemical Engineering. R.
Lesson 11 ___________________________________________________________________________________ 1178 2.07/98 .
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