Author's School

School of Engineering & Applied Science

Author's Department/Program

Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering


English (en)

Date of Award

Winter 1-1-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Milorad P. Dudukovic


Bubble columns and slurry bubble columns are considered reactors of choice for a wide range of applications in the chemical, biochemical, and petrochemical industries. Most of the chemical applications of bubble columns include exothermic processes and hence they require some means of heat removal to maintain a steady process. The most practical means for heat removal in these reactors is the utilization of vertical cooling internals since they provide high heat transfer area per reactor volume. However, the effects of these internals on the reactor performance are poorly understood in the open literature. This causes the design of the internals to be based on empirical rules not on the applications of fundamentals.

The main objective of this study is to enhance the understanding of the effects of vertical cooling internals on the gas hydrodynamics, gas mixing, and mass transfer. In addition, this study attempts to develop and validate models that can simulate the radial gas velocity profile and axial gas mixing in the presence and absence of internals. Finally, this work aims to validate all the observed experimental results and models in larger columns with and without internals to have a better understanding of the scale-up effects in the presence of internals. This is accomplished by carrying out experiments in a lab-scale 8-inch bubble column and a pilot-scale 18-inch bubble column in the absence and presence of internals. The studied % occluded area by internals: ~ 25%) is chosen to match the % occluded area used in the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis. The radial gas velocity profiles are measured using the 4-point optical probe and are used to validate the 1-D gas velocity model developed by Gupta: 2002). Gar tracer techniques are used to study the effect of internals on the overall axial gas mixing and mass transfer. A 2-D model, that considers the radial variations of the gas velocity and gas holdup, is developed and used to analyze the tracer data allowing the estimation of the turbulent diffusivities of the gas phase. The 2-D model along with the axial dispersion coefficient model developed by Degaleesan and Dudukovic: 1998) are used to determine the contribution of different mixing mechanisms to the overall axial gas mixing.

The main findings of the current work can be summarized as follows:

The effect of internals and column diameter on the gas velocity profile, gas mixing, and mass transfer is assessed. The presence of internals causes:

An increase in the center-line gas velocity.

A significant decrease in axial gas mixing.

 A decrease in the gas-liquid mass transfer coefficient.

The increase in column diameter causes:

Enhancement of the gas circulation.

An increase in axial gas mixing.

The model developed by Gupta: 2002) to predict radial gas velocity profiles is validated at different operating conditions in the presence and absence of internals.

A 2-D convection-diffusion model is developed and proven useful in interpreting gas tracer data and simulating the overall axial gas mixing in the presence and absence of internals.


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