# Fluidization Characteristics of Monosized Glass Spheres in Water

Introduction
Packed and fluidized beds find industrial importance in many unit operations. These
devices can be used to facilitate intimate contact between gas and liquid phases, such as
in gas absorption, adsorption, and distillation setups. They are also useful in the design
of chemical reactors for heterogeneous catalytic reactions, where the fluid flows through
a bed of packing on which the catalysts are infused.
A packed bed is usually comprised of a cylindrical column that is either randomly filled
or structurally stacked with a specific packing material, which improves the surface area
for transfer or reaction. In a packed bed process, the fluid is pumped upward and flows
through the void spaces between the packing. At low flow rates, the bed remains
undisturbed and intact. As the flow rate is increased, the frictional forces act upward
and consequently, the pressure drop across the bed also increase in magnitude to
counteract the net gravitational force on the bed of particles.
The behavior of the pressure drop across a packed column is essential in cost analysis
and optimizing the operation itself. It is important to know the required pressure drop
at which fluid may flow through at a specified flow rate, such that the size and energy
requirements of the pump needed to deliver the fluid may be set economically.
In the calculation of pressure drops, the frictional force is first expressed in terms of a
friction factor. The most successful correlation by far is the Ergun equation,
݂

ൌ ͳͷͲ
ሺଵିఌሻ
ோ௘

൅ ͳǤ͹ͷ (1)
which defines the friction factor for a packed bed, ݂

and the particle Reynolds
number, ܴ݁

, as
݂

ο௉ ௚

ȉ

ఘ௏

ȉ

ଵିఌ
(2)
ܴ݁

(3)
where ƩP is pressure drop
gc is the gravitational conversion factor
L is bed depth or length
Dp is equivalent spherical diameter
s is sphericity
Vs is superficial velocity
Ǐ is fluid density
İ is bed porosity or void fraction
ǋ is dynamic fluid viscosity

The relationships provided by the previous equations tell us that the pressure drop
along the bed is not only dependent on the fluid velocity, but also on certain properties
of the fluid and that of the packing material itself.
At low velocities, the second term of the Ergun equation becomes much negligible
compared to the first and the correlation reduces to the Carman-Kozeny equation:
݂

ଵହ଴ሺଵିఌሻ
ோ௘

(4)
This equation is a restatement of Darcy's law, which shows that the flow is proportional
to the pressure drop and inversely proportional to the fluid viscosity. It is found to be
valid particularly for ܴ݁

൑ ͳ, at very laminar flows where viscous drag forces dominate.
In a highly turbulent flow, the effects of viscosity are overridden by inertial forces.
Equation (1) ceases to be dependent on the Reynolds number, giving the Burke-
Plummer equation:
݂

ൌ ͳǤ͹ͷ (5)
This correlation is valid at ܴ݁

൒ ͳͲͲͲ. The inertial forces that mainly contribute to the
pressure drop are described by the kinetic energy losses caused by the shifting cross
section and direction of the flow channels in the packed bed.
Ergun was able to obtain an equation spanning both laminar and turbulent flow regimes
by assuming that the viscous effects and the kinetic energy losses are additive. Hence,
summing up the Carman-Kozeny and the Burke-Plummer equations then results to
equation (1). The empirical constants of Ergun's equation, 150 and 1.75, were obtained
through numerous experiments. Carman first provided the factor 180 instead of 150,
until Ergun concluded from his findings that 150 was the better value for particles
with ܦ

൐ ͳͷͲߤ݉.
Suppose the flow rate is high enough that the pressure drop stops escalating and
becomes constant even as the flow rate is increased. At this point, the total frictional
drag on the particles of the bed becomes equal to their apparent weight or their actual
weight less the buoyant force of the displaced liquid (Richardson & Harker, 291).
While the flow rate steadily increases, the particles begin to move about randomly and
the bed loosens up and expands. This continues until the particles are no longer in
contact with one another and becomes suspended in the fluid (Richardson & Harker,
293). The bed now behaves like a fluid and is said to be fluidized.
Fluidized beds of catalysts are greatly used in the petroleum industry, such as in the
catalytic cracking of heavy crude oil to produce fractions of gasoline components. The
violent motion of the fluid ensures quality agitation, minimization of temperature
gradients, and the high rates of heat transfer to wall or cooling tubes (McCabe, 1985).
The fluidity acquired by the solids also allows them to be easily transferred. Fluidization
is now being developed for applications in coal combustion and pollution control.
The minimum flow rate required to fluidize the bed is called the incipient or minimum
fluidization velocity, ܸ
௠௙
. A force balance under this condition yields equation (6):
οܲ
௠௙
ൌ ൫ͳ െ ߝ
௠௙
൯൫ߩ

െ ߩ൯ܮ
௠௙
݃ (6)
where ߩ

is the particle density and g is the acceleration due to gravity.
From Wen and Yu's experiments, the following relationship for the particle sphericity
and the porosity at minimum fluidization, ߝ
௠௙
ǡ has been established (Richardson &
Harker, 297):

ଵି ఌ
೘೑

೘೑

؆ ͳͳ (7)
Using the correlation for the pressure drop given by Ergun to stand for οܲ
௠௙
in equation
(6) and combining the result with equation (7) yields an expression for the particle
Reynolds number at minimum fluidization, given by equation (8):
ܴ݁
௠௙
ൌ ሾ͵͵Ǥ͹

൅ ͲǤͶͲͺܩܽሿ
ଵȀଶ
െ ͵͵Ǥ͹ (8)
where Ga is the Galileo number, defined as
ܩܽ ൌ

ఘ൫ఘ

ିఘ൯௚

(9)
The Galileo number is sometimes referred to as the Archimedes number, Ar, in some
references. A minimum fluidization velocity can be computed by using the result in (8)
for equation (3), and solving for ܸ

which is now equal to ܸ
௠௙
.
Aside from the minimum fluidization velocity, bed expansion and porosity can also be
used to characterize fluidized systems. When the flow rate is well past the stage of
incipient fluidization, the Ergun equation reportedly begins to fail. However, for
particulate fluidization where the solids undergo large but uniform expansion, the
Ergun equation still holds for a slightly expanded bed (McCabe 1985). McCabe also
presents a relationship between bed expansion and superficial velocity, shown by
equation (10), which was also derived from Ergun's equation:

ଵିఌ

ଵହ଴ ௏

൫ఘ

ିఘ൯௚ థ

(10)
Under fluidized conditions, there also exists a linear relation between log Vs and log
(Backhurst, Harker, & Richardson, 2002). From this, the incipient velocity can also be
located graphically.
This study aims to investigate the range of applicability of equations (1), (4), and (5) by
studying the pressure drop across a packed bed while the flow rate is varied. The data
and observations collected will be used to evaluate the Ergun constants as well as the
minimum fluidization velocity to be compared with theoretical values. The bed
expansion and porosity of the liquid-fluidized system will also be observed and
graphically evaluated.
Specific Objectives
1. Establish the relationship of the superficial velocity to the following:
a. Pressure drop
b. Bed height
c. Bed voidage or porosity
2. Verify the validity and range of applicability of the following fluidization
equations: Carman-Kozeny, Burke-Plummer, Ergun
a. Graphically determine the respective constants using the approximation for
the observed flow regime
b. Compare experimental results with theoretical data
3. Determine the minimum fluidization velocity through graphical and numerical
analyses.
4. Describe the fluidization process through graphs.

Methodology
Part A: Meter Calibration
1. Check that the mercury level difference in the manometer is zero at no flow.
2. Measure the initial height of the particle bed. Make sure that all the beads are
settled at the bottom of the glass column.
3. Turn on the pump, then the water inlet (located in the middle of the blue pipe)
gently, to allow water to flow through the bed.
4. Continuously open the water supply, slowly increasing the water flow rate until
the pressure reading reaches maximum, taking note that the manometer fluid
must not be spilled and the beads must not touch the top of the column.
5. At this flow rate, measure the bed height and record the manometer reading.
6. Determine the water flow rate using the bucket method where a bucket is filled
with water for a certain amount of time. The mass of the water is then divided
with the total time it took to fill the bucket. Make sure the drum supplying water
to the pump does not run out of water by returning the weighed water to the
drum.
7. Gradually decrease the water flow rate. Record at least 10 flow rates, including
and in between zero and the maximum flow rate. For every flow rate interval,
record the corresponding pressure drop and bed height. Plot points (which will
give Cv) immediately to check linearity.
8. Determine the meter constant ܥ

using the equation ܨ ൌ ܥ

ξο݄ by regression
analysis of the data.
Part B: Fluidization

1. Allow the particles to completely settle to their initial packed state.
2. Open the supply valve and set a flow rate.
3. Read and record the height of the bed and manometer reading.
4. Gradually increase the flow rate and repeat step 3. Continue making the same
measurements for a number of flow rate intervals until the bed is considerably
fluidized.
5. Gradually decrease the flow rate and repeat step 3, until the bed settles once
again.
6. Repeat Part B for two more trials.
* The experimenters must be able to differentiate the data points at which the
flow rate is being increased and at which part it is being decreased.
Part C: Analysis
Evaluation of Ergun constants
1. Secure the following data/measurements. Use appropriate measuring devices
available in the laboratory and always include their respective error ranges
whenever possible.
Average diameter, mass, and volume of particles (use at least 10 samples)
Initial height of bed
Pipe diameter and cross-sectional area of column
2. Solve for particle density.
3. For every bed height data, compute the bed volume and bed porosity.
 volum ൌ
గ஽
೛೔೛೐

್೐೏

 poiosity ൌ ͳ െ
௩௢௟௨௠௘ ௢௙ ௣௔௥௧௜௖௟௘௦
௕௘ௗ ௩௢௟௨௠௘

4. Using the change in height provided by the manometer readings calculate the
following
Flow rate ܨ ൌ ܥ

ξο݄
Mean velocity ܸ

ி
ఘ஺

Superficial velocity ܸ

ൌ ܸ

ߝ
5. Calculate the friction factor and the particle Reynolds number using equations
(2) and (3).
6. Generate a linear plot using Ergun's equation and compare the experimental
Ergun constants with the theoretical values.
7. Verify the Carman-Kozeny and Burke-Plummer equations and evaluate their
constants in the regions of flow at which they may be applicable.
Relationship of superficial velocity with pressure drop, bed height, bed expansion, and
porosity
1. Generate separate graphs for the pressure drop and the bed height plotted
against superficial velocity. Bring calculators and graphing papers for a rough
plot of the data points obtained during the experiment proper.
2. Plot bed expansion against superficial velocity using equation (10).
3. Make a log-log plot of superficial velocity vs porosity.
Determination of minimum fluidization velocity
1. Locate ܸ
௠௙
from the graphs of the pressure drop and the bed height plotted
against superficial velocity. Obtain a numerical value whenever possible.
2. Prepare a log-log plot of οܲ vs ܴ݁

. Locate the point of fluidization and the value
of ܴ݁
௠௙
at this instance. Solve for ܸ
௠௙
.
3. Compare the values from the previous steps with that computed from equation
(8).
Precautions
1. Do not open the supply valve if the outlet valve is closed. Doing so could trap
pressure within the glass pipe and may result to its breakage.
2. Always close the valve tightly after every part of the experiment and whenever the
setup is not in use.
3. Avoid spilling too much water, to prevent errors in mass measurements during
the calibration procedure. As much as possible, maintain a dry and clean area for
the experiment to prevent any accidents.
4. In case of mercury spillage, immediately ask assistance from the laboratory
instructor present.
5. Make sure the drum which supplies water to the pump does not run out of water
or that air goes into the pump. Return weighed water into the drum.

Flowchart

Constants
y Total mass of bed particles
y Sphericity = 1
y Inner pipe diameter = 49.70 ± 0.02 mm

Fluid Property Reference Value
Water
Density 0.997042 g/cm
3

Viscosity 19.245 lbf · s/ft
2

Mercury Density 13.53361 g/cm
3

Required Data
y Physical measurements
Diameter, mass, and density of bed particles
Initial height of bed
Pipe diameter
y Water flow rate
y Bed height or bed length
y Height difference in manometer fluid (pressure drop) for every increase or
decrease in flow rate
y Three trials for Part B

Expected Results
y Calculations
Cross-sectional area of column
Average particle density
Bed volume
Bed porosity
Meter constant, Cv
Mean and Superficial velocity for every flow rate
Friction factor
Particle Reynolds number
Theoretical ܸ
௠௙
(equation 8)
y Plot the following versus superficial velocity
Pressure drop
Bed height
Bed expansion
Porosity (log-log)
y Plot Pressure drop vs Reynolds number (log-log)
y Generate linear plots for the Ergun, Carman-Kozeny, and Burke-Plummer
equations.
Guide Questions
Make the following observations and mark the data points at which they occur:
y At what velocity does the pressure increase/decrease without the bed moving?
y At what velocity and pressure do the particles start to move?
y At what velocity does the particles become separated enough to move about in
the bed?
y At what velocities does the pressure drop become constant?
y As the velocity is decreased from the maximum, until what velocity does the
pressure stay constant? What happens to the bed height?

were obtained through numerous experiments. Suppose the flow rate is high enough that the pressure drop stops escalating and becomes constant even as the flow rate is increased. giving the BurkePlummer equation:  (5) This correlation is valid at . At this point. the particles begin to move about randomly and the bed loosens up and expands. but also on certain properties of the fluid and that of the packing material itself. summing up the Carman-Kozeny and the Burke-Plummer equations then results to equation (1). It is found to be valid particularly for . At low velocities. This continues until the particles are no longer in contact with one another and becomes suspended in the fluid (Richardson & Harker. which shows that the flow is proportional to the pressure drop and inversely proportional to the fluid viscosity.is bed porosity or void fraction is dynamic fluid viscosity The relationships provided by the previous equations tell us that the pressure drop along the bed is not only dependent on the fluid velocity. The bed now behaves like a fluid and is said to be fluidized. The inertial forces that mainly contribute to the pressure drop are described by the kinetic energy losses caused by the shifting cross section and direction of the flow channels in the packed bed. Ergun was able to obtain an equation spanning both laminar and turbulent flow regimes by assuming that the viscous effects and the kinetic energy losses are additive. until Ergun concluded from his findings that 150 was the better value for particles with . 150 and 1. . the total frictional drag on the particles of the bed becomes equal to their apparent weight or their actual weight less the buoyant force of the displaced liquid (Richardson & Harker.75. The empirical constants of Ergun's equation. Equation (1) ceases to be dependent on the Reynolds number. 293). the effects of viscosity are overridden by inertial forces. In a highly turbulent flow. Hence. While the flow rate steadily increases. Carman first provided the factor 180 instead of 150. 291). the second term of the Ergun equation becomes much negligible compared to the first and the correlation reduces to the Carman-Kozeny equation:   (4) This equation is a restatement of Darcy's law. at very laminar flows where viscous drag forces dominate.

which was also derived from Ergun's equation: . A minimum fluidization velocity can be computed by using the result in (8) for equation (3). From Wen and Yu's experiments. The minimum flow rate required to fluidize the bed is called the incipient or minimum fluidization velocity. and the high rates of heat transfer to wall or cooling tubes (McCabe. The violent motion of the fluid ensures quality agitation. McCabe also presents a relationship between bed expansion and superficial velocity. Ar. . the Ergun equation reportedly begins to fail. in some references. Aside from the minimum fluidization velocity. minimization of temperature gradients. for particulate fluidization where the solids undergo large but uniform expansion. However. shown by equation (10). defined as  (9)  (8) The Galileo number is sometimes referred to as the Archimedes number. the following relationship for the particle sphericity and the porosity at minimum fluidization. the Ergun equation still holds for a slightly expanded bed (McCabe 1985). such as in the catalytic cracking of heavy crude oil to produce fractions of gasoline components. 1985). Fluidization is now being developed for applications in coal combustion and pollution control. and solving for which is now equal to . given by equation (8):  where Ga is the Galileo number. has been established (Richardson & Harker. bed expansion and porosity can also be used to characterize fluidized systems. When the flow rate is well past the stage of incipient fluidization.Fluidized beds of catalysts are greatly used in the petroleum industry. A force balance under this condition yields equation (6): (6) where is the particle density and g is the acceleration due to gravity. The fluidity acquired by the solids also allows them to be easily transferred. 297):  (7) in equation Using the correlation for the pressure drop given by Ergun to stand for (6) and combining the result with equation (7) yields an expression for the particle Reynolds number at minimum fluidization.

Describe the fluidization process through graphs. taking note that the manometer fluid must not be spilled and the beads must not touch the top of the column. This study aims to investigate the range of applicability of equations (1). and (5) by studying the pressure drop across a packed bed while the flow rate is varied. the incipient velocity can also be located graphically. At this flow rate. Methodology Part A: Meter Calibration 1. Specific Objectives 1. Determine the minimum fluidization velocity through graphical and numerical analyses. Compare experimental results with theoretical data 3. then the water inlet (located in the middle of the blue pipe) gently. Measure the initial height of the particle bed. measure the bed height and record the manometer reading.      (10) Under fluidized conditions. From this. The data and observations collected will be used to evaluate the Ergun constants as well as the minimum fluidization velocity to be compared with theoretical values. Bed height c. Make sure that all the beads are settled at the bottom of the glass column. Bed voidage or porosity 2. The bed expansion and porosity of the liquid-fluidized system will also be observed and graphically evaluated. Pressure drop b. Turn on the pump. to allow water to flow through the bed. slowly increasing the water flow rate until the pressure reading reaches maximum. 2. 3. (4). there also exists a linear relation between log Vs and log  (Backhurst. Burke-Plummer. Verify the validity and range of applicability of the following fluidization equations: Carman-Kozeny. 5. & Richardson. . Establish the relationship of the superficial velocity to the following: a. Harker. Ergun a. 4. Check that the mercury level difference in the manometer is zero at no flow. 4. Continuously open the water supply. Graphically determine the respective constants using the approximation for the observed flow regime b. 2002).

5. Solve for particle density. mass. 6. Gradually decrease the water flow rate. Gradually increase the flow rate and repeat step 3. Use appropriate measuring devices available in the laboratory and always include their respective error ranges whenever possible. Read and record the height of the bed and manometer reading. 2. Open the supply valve and set a flow rate. until the bed settles once again.6. Part C: Analysis Evaluation of Ergun constants 1. Part B: Fluidization 1. Repeat Part B for two more trials.          . and volume of particles (use at least 10 samples) Initial height of bed Pipe diameter and cross-sectional area of column 2. The mass of the water is then divided with the total time it took to fill the bucket. Allow the particles to completely settle to their initial packed state. Determine the meter constant using the equation by regression analysis of the data. Make sure the drum supplying water to the pump does not run out of water by returning the weighed water to the drum. 4. record the corresponding pressure drop and bed height. Continue making the same measurements for a number of flow rate intervals until the bed is considerably fluidized. Record at least 10 flow rates. For every flow rate interval. Gradually decrease the flow rate and repeat step 3. Determine the water flow rate using the bucket method where a bucket is filled with water for a certain amount of time. Plot points (which will give Cv) immediately to check linearity. 7. 8. * The experimenters must be able to differentiate the data points at which the flow rate is being increased and at which part it is being decreased. Average diameter. compute the bed volume and bed porosity. Secure the following data/measurements. 3. including and in between zero and the maximum flow rate. For every bed height data. 3.

Locate the point of fluidization and the value of at this instance. 7. 6. In case of mercury spillage. Doing so could trap pressure within the glass pipe and may result to its breakage. As much as possible. Relationship of superficial velocity with pressure drop. Verify the Carman-Kozeny and Burke-Plummer equations and evaluate their constants in the regions of flow at which they may be applicable. 3. Make a log-log plot of superficial velocity vs porosity. Prepare a log-log plot of  . Always close the valve tightly after every part of the experiment and whenever the setup is not in use. and porosity 1. Plot bed expansion against superficial velocity using equation (10). immediately ask assistance from the laboratory instructor present. Calculate the friction factor and the particle Reynolds number using equations (2) and (3). Generate separate graphs for the pressure drop and the bed height plotted against superficial velocity. Compare the values from the previous steps with that computed from equation (8). Do not open the supply valve if the outlet valve is closed. Bring calculators and graphing papers for a rough plot of the data points obtained during the experiment proper. bed height. Using the change in height provided by the manometer readings calculate the following Flow rate Mean velocity   Superficial velocity  5. Obtain a numerical value whenever possible. maintain a dry and clean area for the experiment to prevent any accidents. bed expansion. Avoid spilling too much water. Generate a linear plot using Ergun's equation and compare the experimental Ergun constants with the theoretical values. . Solve for . 2. 3. Determination of minimum fluidization velocity 1. Locate from the graphs of the pressure drop and the bed height plotted against superficial velocity. 2. to prevent errors in mass measurements during the calibration procedure. 3. 4. Precautions 1.4. 2.

Make sure the drum which supplies water to the pump does not run out of water or that air goes into the pump. Return weighed water into the drum. Flowchart .5.

.

70 ± 0.53361 g/cm3 Required Data y Physical measurements Diameter. mass.02 mm Fluid Water Mercury Property Density Viscosity Density Reference Value 0.997042 g/cm3 19. Cv Mean and Superficial velocity for every flow rate Friction factor Particle Reynolds number Theoretical (equation 8) y Plot the following versus superficial velocity Pressure drop Bed height Bed expansion Porosity (log-log) Plot Pressure drop vs Reynolds number (log-log) Generate linear plots for the Ergun. and density of bed particles Initial height of bed Pipe diameter y Water flow rate y Bed height or bed length y Height difference in manometer fluid (pressure drop) for every increase or decrease in flow rate y Three trials for Part B Expected Results y Calculations Cross-sectional area of column Average particle density Bed volume Bed porosity Meter constant. Carman-Kozeny. and Burke-Plummer equations.Constants y Total mass of bed particles y Sphericity = 1 y Inner pipe diameter = 49.245 lbf · s/ft2 13. y y .

until what velocity does the pressure stay constant? What happens to the bed height? .Guide Questions Make the following observations and mark the data points at which they occur: y At what velocity does the pressure increase/decrease without the bed moving? y At what velocity and pressure do the particles start to move? y At what velocity does the particles become separated enough to move about in the bed? y At what velocities does the pressure drop become constant? y As the velocity is decreased from the maximum.