Novel reactors for multiphase processes
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Process intensification tools, such as the capillary reactor, offer several benefits to the chemical process industries due to the well-defined high specific interfacial area available for heat and mass transfer, which increases the transfer rates, and due to low inventories, they also enhance the safety of the process. This has provided motivation to investigate three such tools, namely the capillary microreactor, spinning disc and rotating tube reactors, in this study.The gas-liquid slug flow capillary microreactor intensifies reactor performance through internal circulation caused by the shear between the continuous phase/wall surface and the slug axis, which enhances the diffusivity and consequently increases the reaction rates. However, integrating the complex hydrodynamics of this reactor with its chemical kinetics is a mathematically challenging task. Therefore, in this study, a simple-to-complex approach, using a set of state-of-the-art computational fluid dynamic tools, has been used. Firstly, simulations were performed without any chemical reaction to ascertain the extent of slug flow regime. The model also clearly captured the slug flow generation mechanism which can be used to structurally optimize the angle of entry in these reactors. Finally, the hydrodynamic model was also capable of estimating the pressure drop and slug lengths. After successfully simulating the hydrodynamics of the system, a reaction model was incorporated to study the chemical reaction kinetics. The results were compared with the published experimental work and were found to be in good agreement.The spinning disc reactor utilizes the centrifugal and shear forces to generate thin liquid films characterized with intense interfering waves. This enables a very high heat transfer coefficients to be realized between the disc and liquid, as well as very high mass transfer between the liquid and the bulk gas phase. The waves formed also produce an intense local mixing with very little back mixing. This makes a spinning disc reactor an ideal contactor for multiphase processes. The focus of this study has been to elucidate the hydrodynamic behaviour of the liquid film flow over the horizontal spinning disc. Investigations were also performed to elaborate the local and overall hydrodynamic characteristics of a fully developed spinning disc reactor. Simulation results showed a continuous linear liquid film on the horizontal spinning disc and intense mixing performance in the annulus of the reactor around the disc surface. Finally, the film thickness data from the simulations were compared with the limited amount of data available for this novel process.Rotating tube reactor also uses centrifugal forces to generate the liquid film and a high degree of mixing along with an improved control over the reactant retention times. In this work we have conducted a CFD analysis to understand the hydrodynamics of this new technology for future developments.
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