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1

INTRODUCTION TO GAS ABSORPTION

The common in all mass transfer operations in our curriculum are
1. All mass transfer operations.
2. Two phases are involved.
3. Equilibrium process (attempt is made to establish an equilibrium between two
phases).
Definition: Absorption is a separation process where a mixture of gases is
separated into its component by absorbing one component into its particular
solvent.
A (solute)
Liquid In
(C)
Liquid Out
(C + A)
Gas In (Feed)
(A + B)
Gas Out
(B + lower Concentration of A)
Component A in Gas feed is soluble in liquid solvent C
Component B is insoluble in C
Concentrations of Solute A are high at bottom of
column in both liquid and Gas streams which is opposite
to the distillation
2
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN
DISTILLATION
Depends on difference in
volatilities.

Starts with single phase and
second phase is generated by
application of energy.
Heat energy is required
(Simultaneous heat and mass
transfer process).
There is a diffusion of molecules
in both directions, so that for an
ideal system equimolecular
counter diffusion exists.
GAS ABSORPTION
Depends on difference in
solubility of gases in selective
solvent.
We always have two phases
(liquid is well below its boiling
point).
No heat energy is required (pure
mass transfer process).
Gas molecules are diffusing into
the liquid, and the movement in
the reverse direction is
negligible.
Note: The ratio of liquid to gas flow rate is considerably greater in absorption
than in distillation with the result that layout of trays are different for the two
operations. Furthermore with higher liquid rates in gas absorption packed type
columns are commonly used.
3
MECHANISM OF GAS ABSORPTION
Two Film Theory: Material is transferred in the bulk of fluid by convection
and concentration differences are regarded as negligible except in the vicinity of the
interface between two phases.
On either side of interface the
currents will die out and a thin
film exists. Through the thin
film the transfer is effected
solely by molecular diffusion.
The direction of transfer of
material across the interface
is not dependent solely on the
concentration difference but
also on the equilibrium
relationship. The controlling
factor will be the rate of
diffusion through the two
films where all the resistance
is considered to be present.
Penetration Theory: In this theory it is assumed that the eddies in the fluid
bring an element of fluid to the interface where it is exposed to the second phase for
a definite interval of time after which the surface element is mixed with the bulk
again. It is assumed that equilibrium is immediately attained by the surface layers,
that a process of unsteady state molecular diffusion than occurs and that the element
is remixed after a fixed interval of time.
P
AG
P
Ai
C
Ai
C
AL
A

B

D

E

Bulk
of Gas
Bulk of
Liquid
G
a
s

f
i
l
m

b
o
u
n
d
a
r
y

L
i
q
u
i
d

f
i
l
m

b
o
u
n
d
a
r
y

L
i
q
u
i
d

f
i
l
m

G
a
s

f
i
l
m

Interface
P
a
r
t
i
a
l

P
r
e
s
s
u
r
e

P
A

o
f

S
o
l
u
t
e

G
a
s

A

M
o
l
a
r

C
o
n
c
e
n
t
r
a
t
i
o
n

C
A

o
f

A

i
n

L
i
q
u
i
d

4
OPERATING LINE
Liquid is solvent and x1 and x2 are the mol fraction of soluble component in liquid.
Feed is gas mixture in which y1 and y2 are the
mol fractions of soluble component in liquid.
Let Gm
1
and Gm
2
are the molar flow rates of
gas at points 1 and 2 and Lm
1
and Lm
2
are the
molar flow rates of liquid at points 1 and 2.
Now by soluble component balance:
Gm
2
y
2
- Gm
1
y
1
= Lm
2
x
2
- Lm
1
x
1

If we calculate the molar ratios:
X
1
,
2
= Moles of Solute/ Moles of Solvent
Y
1
,
2
= Moles of Solute/ Moles of inert gas
Gm = Molar flow rate of Inert gas
Lm = Molar flow rate of Solvent
Then by solute balance:
Gm(Y
2
Y
1
) = Lm(X
2
X
1
)
Slope of line = (Y
2
Y
1
)/(X
2
X
1
) = Lm/Gm
For most of the cases, solvent is pure e.g., X
2
= 0
(Y
1
Y
2
) = (Lm/Gm) X
1

Mol fr. y = Moles of Solute (A)/{Moles of Solute (A) + Inert (B)}
Dividing Numerator & Denominator by moles of inert (B)
y = {moles of A/moles of B}/{(moles of A/moles of B) + 1}
y = Y/(Y+1)
For dilute solutions; Y<<1 or Y+1~1
y = Y/1 = Y, For dilute solutions molar fractions can be used.
Vapors
y
2
Vapors
y
1
Liquid
x
2
Liquid
x
1
1
2
(X
1
,Y
1
)
(X
2
,Y
2
)
Y
X
5
GAS ABSORPTION
Diffusion through a stagnant gas: According to the two film theory, solute first has
to diffuse through a stagnant gas film and then through liquid film before entering
bulkof liquid. Let A is soluble in liquid absorbent C and B is insoluble.
Then according to the Stefans Law: N
/
A
= -Dv(C
T
/C
B
)(dC
A
/dz) where
N
/
A
=Overall molar flux, Dv =Gas phase diffusivity, Z=Distance in the direction of MT
C
A
, C
B
& C
T
are the molar concentration of A, B & total gas.
Integrating over the whole thickness z
G
of the film.
N
/
A
= (DvC
T
/z
G
)ln(C
B2
/C
B1
)=(DvP/RTz
G
)ln(P
B2
/P
B1
)
since C
T
= P/RT (for ideal gas)
R is gas constant, T is absolute
temperature & P is total pressure.
If P
BM
= logmean difference of
partial pressure.
P
BM
= (P
B2
-P
B1
)/{ln(P
B2
/P
B1
)}
N
/
A
= (DvP/RTz
G
){(P
B2
-P
B1
)/P
BM
}
Hence the rate of absorption of A
per unit time over unit area.
N
/
A
= k
/
G
P{(P
A1
-P
A2
)/P
BM
}
N
/
A
= k
G
(P
A1
-P
A2
) = k
G
(P
AG
P
Ai
)
where k
G
= DvP/{RTz
G
P
BM
}
k
G
= k
/
G
(P/P
BM
)
Gas film transfer coefficient for absorption. It is a direct measure of rate of absorption
per unit area of interface with a driving force of unit partial pressure.
Diffusion in the liquid phase: The rate of diffusion in liquids is much slower than in
gases, and mixtures of liquids may take a long time to reach equilibrium unless
agitated. This is due to much closer spacing of molecules as a result of which the
molecular attractions are more important. For dilute solutions, N
/
A
= -D
L
dC
A
/dz
On integration N
/
A
= -D
L
{(C
A2
C
A1
)/z
L
} where C
A
, C
B
are the molar concentrations
of A & B, Z
L
is the thickness of liquid film & D
L
is the liquid phase diffusivity. Since
film thickness is rarely known, N
/
A
= k
L
(C
A1
- C
A2
) = k
L
(C
Ai
-C
AL
)
where k
L
= D
L
/Z
L
(m/s) is the liquid film transfer coefficient.
P
AG
P
Ai
C
Ai
C
AL
A

B

D

E

Bulk
of Gas
Bulk of
Liquid
G
a
s

f
i
l
m

b
o
u
n
d
a
r
y

L
i
q
u
i
d

f
i
l
m

b
o
u
n
d
a
r
y

L
i
q
u
i
d

f
i
l
m

G
a
s

f
i
l
m

Interface
P
a
r
t
i
a
l

P
r
e
s
s
u
r
e

P
A

o
f

S
o
l
u
t
e

G
a
s

A

M
o
l
a
r

C
o
n
c
e
n
t
r
a
t
i
o
n

C
A

o
f

A

i
n

L
i
q
u
i
d

1 2
z
G
6
Rate of Absorption
In a steady state process;
Rate of material transfer through gas film=Rate of material transfer through liquid film
General equation of mass transfer of a component A may be written as:
N
/
A
= k
G
(P
AG
P
Ai
) = k
L
(C
Ai
C
AL
)
P
AG
= Partial pressure of A in the bulk of gas.
P
Ai
= Partial pressure of A at the interface.
C
Ai
= Concentration of A at the interface.
C
AL
= Concentration of A in the bulk of liquid.
Note: Change in liquid composition is positive
and in gas composition is negative.
Therefore, k
G
/k
L
= (C
Ai
C
AL
)/(P
AG
P
Ai
)
These conditions are shown in figure:
ABF is the equilibrium curve for component A
Point D (C
AL
, P
AG
) represents conditions in the
bulk of the gas and liquid phases.
Point B (C
Ai
, P
Ai
) represents the equilibrium
concentrations present at the interface.
Point A (C
Ae
,P
AG
) represents the concentration in
liquid phase in equilibrium with P
AG
.
Point F (C
AL
, P
Ae
) represents partial pressure of gas in equilibrium with C
AL
.
The driving force causing transfer in the gas phase is = (P
AG
- P
Ai
) =DE
and the driving force causing transfer in liquid phase is = (C
Ai
- C
AL
) =BE
Then (P
AG
- P
Ai
) / (C
AI
- C
AL
) = k
L
/k
G
= -Slope of the line DB
and the concentration at the interface (point B) are found by drawing a line through D
of slope - k
L
/k
G
to cut the equilibrium curve in B.
Overall Coefficients: To obtain a direct measurement of k
L
and k
G
requires the
measurement of the concentration at the interface. These values can only be obtain in
very special circumstances and it has been found of considerable value to choose to
overall coefficients K
G
and K
L
defined by the following equations.
N
/
A
= K
G
(P
AG
P
Ae
) = K
L
(C
Ae
C
AL
) where K
G
and K
L
are known as the overall gas
and liquid phase coefficients respectively.
P
Ae
P
Ai
P
AG
C
AL
C
A
i
C
Ae
P
a
r
t
i
a
l

P
r
e
s
s
u
r
e

(
P
A
)

Concentration in liquid phase (C
A
)
A
B
F
D
E
P
A
G
-
P
A
i

C
Ai
-C
AL
Driving forces in gas and liquid phases
7
Rate of Absorption
Relationship between Film and Overall Coefficients: The net rate of transfer of A is
N
/
A
= k
G
(P
AG
P
Ai
) = k
L
(C
Ai
C
AL
) = K
G
(P
AG
P
Ae
) = K
L
(C
Ae
C
AL
)
1/K
G
= (1/k
G
)[(P
AG
P
Ae
)/(P
AG
P
Ai
)]
1/K
G
= (1/k
G
)[(P
AG
P
Ai
)/(P
AG
P
Ai
)] + (1/k
G
)[(P
Ai
P
Ae
)/(P
AG
P
Ai
)]
1/K
G
= (1/k
G
) + (1/k
G
)[(P
Ai
P
Ae
)/(P
AG
P
Ai
)]
But we know that: (1/k
G
) = 1/(k
L
)[(P
AG
P
Ai
)/(C
Ai
C
AL
)]
1/K
G
= (1/k
G
) + (1/k
L
)[(P
AG
P
Ai
)/(C
Ai
C
AL
)]X[(P
Ai
P
Ae
)/(P
AG
P
Ai
)]
1/K
G
= (1/k
G
) + (1/k
L
)[(P
Ai
P
Ae
)/(C
Ai
C
AL
)]
[(P
Ai
P
Ae
)/(C
Ai
C
AL
)] = Average slope of equilibrium curve.
When the solution obeys Henrys Law: H = dP
A
/dC
A
= [(P
Ai
P
Ae
)/(C
Ai
C
AL
)]
Therefore: 1/K
G
= (1/k
G
) + (H /k
L
)
Similarly: 1/K
L
= (1/k
L
) + (1/H k
G
)
From equations A and B: 1/K
G
= (H /K
L
)
The validity of using equations A and B in order to obtain an overall transfer
coefficient has been examined and the equilibrium constant H must not vary over the
equipment, there must be no significant interfacial resistance and there must be no
independence over the values of the two film coefficients.
Rates of Absorption in terms of mol fractions:
The mass transfer equations can be written in terms of mol fractions as:
N
/
A
= k
//
G
(y
A
y
Ai
) = k
//
L
(x
Ai
x
A
) = K
//
G
(y
A
y
Ae
) = K
//
L
(x
Ae
x
A
) where x
A
& y
A

are the mol fractions of soluble component A in the liquid and gas phases.
k
//
G
, k
//
L
, K
//
G
and K
//
L
are transfer coefficients defined in terms of mol fractions.
If m is the slope of equilibrium curve [approximately (y
Ai
y
Ae
)/(x
Ai
x
A
)], it can be
shown that 1/ K
//
G
= (1/k
//
G
) + (m/k
//
L
)
A
B
C
8
Rate of Absorption
Factors influencing the transfer coefficient: The general influence of the solubility of
the gas on the shape of equilibrium curve and the resulting influence on the film and
overall coefficients, will be seen by considering very soluble, almost insoluble and
moderately soluble gases.
a)Very soluble gas: Here the equilibrium curve
lies close to the concentration axis and
the point E (in figure) approaches very close to
point F. The driving force over the gas film (DE)
is then approximately equal to the overall driving
force (DF), so that k
G
is approximately equal to K
G
.
b)Almost insoluble gas: Here the equilibrium curve
rises very steeply so that the driving force (EB) in
the liquid film becomes approximately equal to the Overall driving force (AD). In this
case k
L
will be approximately equal to K
L
.
c)Moderately soluble gas: Here both films offer an appreciable resistance, and the point
B at the interface must be located by drawing a line through D of slope
(k
L
/k
G
) = -(P
AG
P
Ai
)/(C
Ai
C
AL
)
In most experimental work, the concentration at the interface cannot be measured
directly, and only overall coefficients will therefore be found. To obtain values for the
film coefficients, the relations between k
G
, k
L
and K
G
are utilized.
P
Ae
P
Ai
P
AG
C
AL
C
A
i
C
Ae
P
a
r
t
i
a
l

P
r
e
s
s
u
r
e

(
P
A
)

Concentration in liquid phase (C
A
)
A
B
F
D
E
P
A
G
-
P
A
i

C
Ai
-C
AL
Driving forces in gas and liquid phases
9
HEIGHT OF PACKED COLUMN
Rate of moles transfer = N
/
A
x Interfacial area
In a packed column it is very difficult to measure the area of contact. This interfacial
area is characteristics of each packing (area/unit volume)
The interfacial area for transfer = adV = aAdZ where
a = Surface area of interface per unit volume of column
A = Cross-Sectional area of column, and
Z = Height of packed section.
Rate of moles transfer = N
/
A
= k
G
(P
AG
P
Ai
L
(C
Ai
C
AL
Height of Column based on conditions in Gas Film:
Let Gm = Rate of moles of inert gas/(unit cross sectional area)
Lm = Rate of moles of soluble-free liquor/(unit cross sectional area)
Y = Moles of soluble gas A/ moles of inert gas B in gas phase.
X = Moles of solute A/ moles of solvent in liquid phase.
Consider any plane at which the molar ratios of the diffusing
material in the gas and liquid phases are Y and X. Then over a
Small height dZ, the moles of gas leaving the gas phase will equal to the moles taken up
by the liquid. Then , AGmdY = ALmdX
But AGmdY = N
/
A
x adV = k
G
(P
Ai
P
AG
It should be noted that in a gas absorption process, gas and liquid concentrations will
decrease in the upward direction and both dX and dY will be negative.
Since P
AG
= {Y/(1+Y)}P
GmdY = k
G
aP[{Yi/(1+Yi)}-{Y/(1+Y)}]dZ = k
G
aP[(Yi-Y)/{(1+Y)(1+Yi)}]dZ
Hence height of column Z required to achieve a change in Y from Y
1
at the bottom to
Y
2
at the top of the column is given by:

0

Z
dZ = Z = (Gm/k
G
aP)
Y1

Y2
{(1+Y)(1+Yi)/(Yi-Y)}dY
Which for weak solutions: Z = {Gm/(k
G
aP)}
Y1

Y2
{dY/(Yi-Y)}
Note: In this analysis it is assumed that k
G
is constant throughout the column and
provided the concentration changes are not too large
dZ
X
X+dX
Y
Y+dY
Gm
Y
2
Gm
Y
1
Lm
X
2
Lm
X
1
10
HEIGHT OF PACKED COLUMN
Height of column based on conditions in liquid film:
Similarly for liquid film case:
ALmdX = -k
L
a(C
Ai
- C
AL
Where molar concentrations C are in terms of moles of solute per unit volume of liquor.
If C
T
= (moles of solute + moles of solvent)/(volume of liquid)
Then C
AL
/(C
T
C
AL
) = Moles of solute/ Moles of solvent = X
Therefore: C
AL
= {X/(1+X)}C
T

The transfer equation may be written as:
LmdX = k
L
aC
T
[{X/(1+X)}-{Xi/(1+Xi)}]dZ
LmdX = k
L
aC
T
[(X Xi)/{(1+X)(1+Xi)}]dZ
Therefore:
0

Z
dZ = Z = {Lm/ (k
L
aC
T
)}
X1

X2
{(1+X)(1+Xi)/(X Xi)}dX
and for dilute conditions this gives: Z = {Lm/ (k
L
aC
T
)}
X1

X2
{dX/(X Xi)}
where C
T
and k
L
have been taken constant over the column.
Height based on Overall Coefficients:
If the driving force based on the gas concentration is written as (Y-Ye) and the
overall gas transfer coefficient as K
G
, then the height of the tower for dilute
concentrations becomes:
Z = {Gm/(K
G
aP)}
Y1

Y2
{dY/(Ye-Y)}
Or in terms of liquid concentration as: Z = {Lm/ (K
L
aC
T
)}
X1

X2
{dX/(X Xe)}
Equations for dilute concentrations:
As the mole fraction is approximately equal to the molar ratio at dilute
concentrations than considering the gas film.
Z = {Gm/(k
G
aP)}
y1

y2
{dy/(yi - y)} = {Gm/(K
G
aP)}
y1

y2
{dy/(ye-y)}
and considering the liquid film:
Z = {Lm/(k
L
aC
T
)}
x1

x2
{dx/(x xi)} = {Lm/(K
L
aC
T
)}
x1

x2
{dx/(xxe)}
11
HEIGHT OF PACKED COLUMN
THE OPERATING LINE AND GRAPHICAL INTEGRATION:
Taking a material balance on the solute from the bottom of the column to any plane
where the mole fractions are Y and X gives for unit area of cross-section:
Gm(Y
1
Y) = Lm(X
1
X)
Or (Y
1
Y) = (Lm/Gm)(X
1
X)
This is the equation of straight line of slope Lm/Gm, which
passes through the point (X
1
,Y
1
).
If we apply balance over the whole column it will pass through
the points (X
2
,Y
2
). This is known as the equation of operating line.
Following is the figure for the case of moist air and sulfuric acid or
caustic soda solution, where the main resistance lies in gas phase.
The equilibrium curve is represented by the line FR, and the
operating line is given by ADB, A corresponding to the
concentrations at the bottom of the column and B to those
at the top of the column. D represents the condition of the
bulk of the liquid and gas at any point in the column, and
has coordinates X and Y. Then if the gas film is
controlling the process, Yi equals Ye, and is given by a
point F on the equilibrium curve, with coordinates X and
Yi. The driving force causing transfer is then given by the
distance DF. It is therefore possible to evaluate the
expression
Y1

Y2
{dY/(Yi - Y)} by selecting
values of Y, reading of from the diagram the corresponding
values of Yi, and thus calculating 1/(Yi - Y). Then plot
Y vs 1/(Yi - Y) and find the area under the curve to find the
value of the integral term. Note that for gas absorption
Y>Yi and Yi-Y and dY in the integral are both negative.
For liquid film controlling the process, Xi = Xe and the
driving force X-Xi=DR. Then the evaluation of integral
X1

X2
{dx/(XXi)} may be
effected in the same way as for the gas film.
dZ
X
X+dX
Y
Y+dY
Gm
Y
2
Gm
Y
1
Lm
X
2
Lm
X
1
M
o
l
e
s

s
o
l
u
t
e
/
m
o
l
e

i
n
e
r
t

g
a
s

Moles solute/moles solvent
Y
1
Y

Y
2
Y
i
=Y
e
X
2
=0
X

X
i
= X
e
X
1
A
D
B
R
F
12
HEIGHT OF PACKED COLUMN
THE OPERATING LINE AND GRAPHICAL INTEGRATION:
Special Case: When equilibrium curve is straight line
Over the range of concentration considered if the equilibrium
curve is a straight line, it is possible to use an average value of
driving force over the column. For dilute concentrations, over
a small height dZ of column,
dZ = {Gm/(K
G
aP)}{dY/(Ye-Y)}
If Ye = mX + C
Then Ye
1
= mX
1
+ C
and Ye
2
= mX
2
+ C
So that m = (Ye
1
Ye
2
)/(X
1
X
2
)
Further, applying balance over the lower portion of column:
Lm(X
1
- X) = Gm(Y
1
Y)
and X = X
1
+ (Gm/Lm)(Y Y
1
)
Therefore from the equation 1:
(K
G
aP/Gm)
0

Z
dZ =
Y1

Y2
{dY/(Ye-Y)}
=
Y1

Y2
dY/[m{X
1
+(Gm/Lm)(Y-Y
1
)} + C Y]

Therefore the height of column, Z = {Gm/(K
G
aP)}{(Y
1
Y
2
)/(Y Ye)
lm
}
dZ
X
X+dX
Y
Y+dY
Gm
Y
2
Gm
Y
1
Lm
X
2
Lm
X
1
M
o
l
e
s

s
o
l
u
t
e
/
m
o
l
e

i
n
e
r
t

g
a
s

Moles solute/moles solvent
Y
1
Y

Y
2
Y
i
=Y
e
X
2
=0
X

X
i
= X
e
X
1
A
D
B
R
F
1
( )
( )
( ) ( )
( )
( )
1 1
1 2 1 2
1 1
1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2
1 2 1 2
1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2
1 2 1
1 2 2
1
ln
1
1
ln
1
ln
Now logmean
e
e e e e
e
e
e e e
mX C Y
mGm Gm
m X Y Y C Y
Lm Lm
Y Y
Y Y X X Y Y X X
Y Y Y Y
X X Y Y X X Y Y
Y Y
Y Y
Y Y Y Y Y Y
+
=
| | | |
+ +
` | |
\ . \ . )

=
| || | | || |

| | ` | |

\ .\ . \ .\ . )

=

( )
( ) ( )
( ) ( )
1 2
e e
1 2
value of Y-Y defined as Y-Y
ln{ / }
e e
lm
e e
Y Y Y Y
Y Y Y Y

=

2
3
4
5
13
PROBLEM 12.1
Some experiments are made on the absorption of Carbon dioxide from carbon dioxide-
air mixture in 2.5 normal caustic soda, using a 250 mm diameter tower packed to a
height of 3m with 19 mm Raschig rings. In one experiment at atmosphere pressure, the
results obtained were: Gas rate G
/

= 0.34 kg/m
2
s; Liquid rate L
/
= 3.94 kg/m
2
s.
The carbon dioxide in the inlet gas is 315 parts per million and in the exit gas 31 parts
per million. What is the value of the overall gas transfer coefficient K
G
a?
Solution: At the top of the tower: y
2
=31x10
-6
, x
2
=0,
L
/
= 3.94 kg/m
2
s;
2.5 N NaOH contains = 2.5x40g/l = 100g/l = 100kg/m
3
NaOH
Mean molecular weight of liquid = (100x40 + 900x18)/1000
MW = 20.2 kg/kgmol
Lm = L
/
/MW = 3.94/20.2 = 0.195 kmol/m
2
s.
At the bottom of the tower: y
1
=315x10
-6

G
/
=0.34 kg/m
2
s, Gm = G
/
/MW = 0.34/29 = 0.0117 kmol/m
2
s
Now from operating line relation:
x
1
=x
2
+(Gm/Lm)(y
1
-y
2
)=0+(0.0117/0.195)(315-31)x10
-6
= 0(approximately)
It may be assumed that as the solution of NaOH is fairly concentrated, there will be
negligible vapor pressure over the solution, therefore all resistance to transfer lies in the
gas phase. Also it is a dilute mixture, height of the tower will be
Z = (Gm/K
G
aP){(y
1
-y
2
)/(y-y
e
)
lm

K
G
a = (Gm/ZP){(y
1
-y
2
)/(y-y
e
)
lm

Driving force at the top of column, (y-y
e
)
2
= 31x10
-6
0 = 31x10
-6

Driving force at the bottom of column, (y-y
e
)
1
= 315x10
-6
0 = 315x10
-6

Log-mean driving force difference, (y-y
e
)
lm
= {(y-y
e
)
1
-(y-y
e
)
2
}/ln{(y-y
e
)
1
/(y-y
3
)
2
}
= (315-31)x10
-6
/ln(315/31) = 122.5x10
-6

Thus, K
G
a = (0.0117/3x101.3)(315-31)x10
-6
/(122.5x10
-6
) = 8.93x10
-5
D=250 mm
H=3m
19 mm
Raschig
Rings
x
2
=0
L
/
=3.94
kg/m
2
s
x
1

y
2
=31x10
-6

y
1
=315x10
-6

G
/
=0.34
kg/m
2
s
K
G
a = 8.93x10
-5

14
THE TRANSFER UNIT
Considering the height of packed column consist of stages of definite height such as
for a plate column. These hypothetical stages are called transfer unit. Therefore for a
packed column
Height of packed column = (Height of a transfer unit) x (Number of transfer units)
For gas phase based on overall driving force: Chilton and Colburn defined the
number of overall gas phase transfer units as N
OG
=
y1

y2
{dy/(ye - y)}
Therefore N
OG
is the integral of change in concentration per unit driving force.
The driving force (ye-y) is very small at the top of column which result in a large
number of transfer units at the top of the column.
Height of overall gas phase transfer units: H
OG
= Z/ N
OG
= Gm/K
G
aP
For conditions based of on gas film: Z = H
G
x N
G
Where number of gas film transfer
unit, N
G
=
y1

y2
{dy/(yi - y)} and height of gas film transfer unit H
G
= Gm/k
G
aP
For condition based on overall driving force in liquid phase: Z = H
OL
x N
OL
Where
height of overall liquid phase transfer unit, H
OL
= Lm/K
L
aC
T
and number of overall
liquid phase transfer unit, N
OL
=
x1

x2
{dx/(xxe)}
For conditions based on Liquid film: Z = H
L
x N
L
Where height of liquid film
transfer unit, H
L
= Lm/k
L
aC
T
and number of liquid film transfer unit, N
L
=
x1

x2
{dx/(xxi)}
The relationships between the height of overall coefficients and film coefficients can
be defined as H
OG
= H
G
+ (mG
m
/L
m
)H
L
H
OL
= H
L
+ (L
m
/mG
m
)H
G
Where m is the slope of equilibrium curve
15
THE TRANSFER UNIT
The Importance of Liquid and Gas Flowrates and Slope of Equilibrium Curve
For a packed tower operating with dilute concentrations, since x X1 and y Y1, then:
Gm(y
1
y
2
) = Lm(x
1
x
2
)
where, as before, x and y are the mole fractions of solute in the
liquid and gas phases, and Gm and Lm are the gas and liquid
molar flowrates per unit area on a solute free basis.
A material balance between the top and some plane where the
mole fractions are x, y gives:
Gm(y y
2
) = Lm(x x
2
)
If the entering solvent is free from solute, then x
2
= 0 and:
x = (Gm/Lm)(y y
2
)
But the number of overall transfer units is given by:
N
OG
=
y1

y2
{dy/(y
e
- y)}
For dilute concentrations, Henrys law holds and y
e
= mx.
Thus: N
OG
=
y1

y2
[dy/{m(G
m
/L
m
)(y y
2
)- y}]
=
y1

y2
[dy/{m(G
m
/L
m
-1) y m(G
m
/L
m
) y
2
}]
and: N
OG
= 1/ {1-m(G
m
/L
m
)} x ln [{1-m(G
m
/L
m
)} (y
1
/ y
2
)+m(G
m
/L
m
)]
COLBURN has shown that this equation may usefully be plotted as shown in figure above which is taken
from his paper. In this plot the number of transfer units NOG is shown for values of y
1
/y
2
using mG
m
/L
m

as a parameter and it may be seen that the greater mG
m
/L
m
, the greater is the value of NOG for a given
ratio of y
1
/y
2
. From the above equation:
L
m
/G
m
= (y
1
y
2
)/x
1
= (y
1
y
2
)/(y
e1
/m)
Thus: mG
m
/L
m
= y
e1
/(y
1
y
2
) where y
e1
is the value of y in equilibrium with x
1
.
On this basis, the lower the value of mG
m
/L
m
, the lower will be ye1, and hence the weaker the exit liquid.
Colburn has suggested that the economic range for mG
m
/L
m
is 0.7-0.8. If the value of HOG is known, the
quickest way of obtaining a good indication of the required height of the column is by using figure
above.

16
PROBLEM 12.2
An acetone-air mixture containing 0.015 mol fraction of acetone has the mol fraction
reduced to 1 percent of this value by countercurrent absorption with water in a packed
tower. The gas flow rate G
/
is 1 kg/m
2
s of air and the water entering is 1.6 kg/m
2
s. For
this system, Henrys Law holds and y
e
=1.75x, where y
e
is the mol fraction of acetone in
the vapor in equilibrium with a mol fraction x in the liquid. How many overall transfer
units are required?
Solution:
At the top of the tower: y
2
=0.00015, x
2
=0,
L
/
= 1.6 kg/m
2
s, Lm = L
/
/MW = 1.6/18 = 0.0889 kmol/m
2
s.
At the bottom of the tower: y
1
=0.015,
G
/
= 1.0 kg/m
2
s, Gm = G
/
/MW = 1.0/29 = 0.0345 kmol/m
2
s
Now from operating line relation:
x
1
=x
2
+(Gm/Lm)(y
1
-y
2
)=0+(0.0345/0.0889)(0.015-0.00015=0.00576
For dilute system, height of column:
Z = (Gm/K
G
aP){(y
1
-y
2
)/(y-y
e
)
lm

H
OG
= Gm/K
G
aP
N
OG
= Z/H
OG
= (y
1
-y
2
)/(y-y
e
)
lm

Driving force at the top of column, (y-y
e
)
2
= y
2
mx
2
= 0.00015 - 1.75x0 = 0.00015
Driving force at the bottom of column, (y-y
e
)
1
= y
1
mx
1
= 0.0151.75x0.00576= 0.0049
Log-mean driving force difference, (y-y
e
)
lm
= {(y-y
e
)
1
-(y-y
e
)
2
}/ln{(y-y
e
)
1
/(y-y
e
)
2
}
= (0.0049-0.00015)/ln(0.0049/0.00015)
= 0.00136
Therefore N
OG
= (0.015-0.00015)/0.00136 = 10.92 = 11(approximately)
Also, N
OL
= N
OG
(mGm/Lm) = 10.92(1.75x0.0345/0.0889) = 7.42 = 7 (approximately)
x
2
=0
L
/
=1.6
kg/m
2
s
x
1

y
2
=0.00015
y
1
=0.015
G
/
=1
kg/m
2
s
N
OG
= 11 & N
OL
= 7
1
2
17
PLATE COLUMNS FOR GAS ABSORPTION
When the load is more than can be handle in a packed column of about 1 m diameter and when
there is any likelihood of deposition of solids which would quickly choke a packing, plate
columns are preferred.
Plate columns are particularly useful when the liquid rate is sufficient
to flood a packed tower. Since the ratio of liquid rate to gas rate is
greater than with distillation, the slot area will be rather less and the
downcomers rather larger.
On the whole, plate efficiencies have been found to be less than with
the distillation equipment, and to range from 20 to 80 percent.;
The plate column is a common type of equipment for large installations,
but when the diameter of the column is less than 2m, packed columns are
more often used. For the handling of very corrosive fluids, packed
columns are frequently preferred for larger units.
The essential arrangement of the unit is indicated in figure: Let
Lm = molar flux of solute free liquid
Gm = molar flux of inert gas.
n = refers to the plate numbered from the bottom upwards.
X = molar ratio of absorbed component in liquid.
Y = molar ratio of absorbed component in gas.
s = total number of plates in the column.
Assumption: Each plate will be taken as an ideal unit.
Material balance for the absorbed component from the bottom plate to a plane above plate n:
Gm Y
n
+ LmX
1
= GmY
0
+ LmX
n+1

y
n
= (Lm/Gm)X
n+1
+ {Y
0
(Lm/Gm)X
1
}
This equation is a straight line of slope (Lm/Gm), relating the
compositions of passing streams, known as the equation of operating line.
Point A represents the conditions at the bottom of the column. The gas
rising from the bottom plate is in equilibrium with a liquid of
concentration X
1
and is shown as point B on operating line. The point 4
indicates the concentration of the liquid on the second plate from bottom.
In this way the steps may be drawn to point B, giving the gas Y
s
rising
from the top plate and the liquid X
s+1
entering the top of absorber.

A
B
Liquid
X
s+1

Liquid
X
1

Gas
Y
s

Gas
Y
0

Y
s-1

Y
n

Y
n-1

Y
1
X
2

1
n-1
n
n+1
s
X
n

X
n+1

X
s

Y
X
Y
0

X
1
X
s+1

Y
s

A
2
3
4
B
18
PROBLEM 12.3
An oil containing 2.55 mol percent of a hydrocarbon is stripped by running the oil down
a column up which live steam is passed, so that 4 kmol of steam are used per 100 kmol
of oil stripped. Determine the number of theoretical plates required to reduce the
hydrocarbon content to 0.05 mol percent, assuming that the oil is non-volatile. The
vapor-liquid relation of the hydrocarbon in the oil is given by y
e
=33x, where y
e
is the
mol-fraction in the vapor and x the mol-fraction in the liquid. The temperature is
maintained constant by internal heating, so that the steam does not condense in tower.
Solution: Data: Steam to oil ratio = 4kmol/100kmol
Vapor-liquid equilibrium relationship for hydrocarbon, y
e
= 33x
Steam does not condense due to internal heating system
From steam to oil ratio, Lm/Gm = 100/4 = 25 kmol/kmol
Since, x
s+1
= 0.0255, therefore X
s+1
= x
s+1
/(1-x
s+1
)
X
s+1
= 0.0255/(1 - 0.0255) = 0.0262
And x
1
= 0.0005, then X
1
= x
1
/(1x
1
) =0.0005/(10.0005)= 0.0005
Operating line equation is: Y
n
= (Lm/Gm)X
n+1
+ {Y
0
- (Lm/Gm)X
1
}
Y
n
= 25X
n+1
+ 0 (25)0.0005 = 25X
n+1
0.0125
From operating line equation,
Y
s
= 25X
s+1
0.0125 = 25(0.0262) - 0.0125 = 0.6423
Plot the operating line on X-Y diagram by points A and B.
From the equilibrium equation, y
e
= 33x
Y
e
/(1+Y
e
) = 33{X/(1+X)}
Y
e
= 33X/(1-32X)
From the above equation, make the table and draw the curve.
Stripper
x
s+1
=
0.0255
x
1
=
0.0005
Steam
y
0
=0
ys=0
X 0.0 0.002 0.004 0.006 0.008 0.010 0.012 0.014
Y 0.0 0.071 0.151 0.245 0.355 0.485 0.643 0.837
X
Y
8
1
Equilibrium
curve
Operating line
Number of Stages = 08