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journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/cej

stirred tanks: Prediction of solid particle distribution

A. Tamburini a, A. Cipollina a, G. Micale a,⇑, A. Brucato a, M. Ciofalo b

a

Dipartimento di Ingegneria Chimica, Gestionale, Informatica, Meccanica, Università di Palermo, Viale delle Scienze Ed. 6, 90128 Palermo, Italy

b

Dipartimento dell’Energia, Università di Palermo, Viale delle Scienze Ed. 6, 90128 Palermo, Italy

h i g h l i g h t s

Solid particle distribution phenomenon is studied under partial-to-complete suspension conditions.

The validity of neglecting the radial proﬁles of solids concentration is extensively evaluated.

For the ﬁrst time, axial proﬁles of solids concentration under partial suspension conditions are predicted via CFD.

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: Industrial tanks devoted to the mixing of solid particles into liquids are often operated at an impeller

Received 3 August 2012 speed N less than Njs (deﬁned as the lowest speed allowing the suspension of all particles): under such

Received in revised form 9 January 2013 conditions the distribution of solid-particles is very far from being homogeneous and very signiﬁcant

Accepted 12 March 2013

concentration gradients exist. The present work is devoted to assessing the capability of Computational

Available online 19 March 2013

Fluid Dynamics (CFD) in predicting the particle distribution throughout the tank.

The CFD model proposed by Tamburini et al. [58] and successfully applied to the prediction of the sed-

Keywords:

iment amount and shape was adopted here to simulate the particle distribution under partial-to-com-

Multi Fluid Model (MFM)

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)

plete suspension conditions. Both transient (via the Sliding Grid approach) and steady state (via the

Turbulence closure Multiple Reference Frame approach) RANS simulations were carried out for the case of a ﬂat bottomed

Solid–liquid suspension bafﬂed tank stirred by a Rushton turbine.

Partial suspension Results show that the model can reliably predict the experimental particle distribution at all investi-

Drag force gated impeller speeds. Transient simulations were found to predict slightly better the experimental data

Stirred tank with respect to steady state simulations. Radial gradients of solids concentration, usually neglected in the

Particle distribution literature, where found to be signiﬁcant in the presence of unsuspended solid particles settled on the ves-

Unsuspended Solid Criterion (USC)

sel bottom (i.e. incomplete suspension conditions).

Ó 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction [22,40,61]. Only recently, attention has been paid to the incom-

plete suspension conditions. In particular Tamburini et al. [58] pro-

Solid–liquid mixing within tanks agitated by stirrers can be eas- posed a CFD model able to reliably predict the suspension curves

ily encountered in many industrial processes. It is common to ﬁnd (for different particle sizes and concentrations), i.e. the mass frac-

an industrial tank operating at an impeller speed N lower than the tion of suspended particles (xsusp) as a function of N, on the basis of

minimum agitation speed for the suspension of all solid particles, a suitable computation of the quantity of solids resting motionless

Njs [44,49,59]. As a matter of fact, the loss in active interfacial area on the vessel bottom. This model was found also to be able to pre-

due to an impeller speed N below Njs as an operating condition is dict Njs [61] and the impeller speed for sufﬁcient suspension con-

somewhat counterbalanced by a lower power requirement (the ditions Nss [63]. Most solid–liquid mixing operations require a

power is proportional to the cube of the impeller speed) which knowledge of the impeller speed at which the solid particles be-

may ultimately result in a more economically competitive process. come fully suspended and/or the amount of solids suspended at

Nevertheless, most literature works focus on the assessment different N below Njs. In many cases information is also required

[71,41,2,20,7,60,64] and many others or on the prediction of Njs on the quality of the solids distribution within the tank, since the

particle distribution may largely affect the process performance.

⇑ Corresponding author. Tel.: +39 09123863780. In such cases, a reliable prediction of the solids distribution is of

E-mail address: giorgiod.maria.micale@unipa.it (G. Micale). crucial importance for accurate design and testing of the pertaining

1385-8947/$ - see front matter Ó 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cej.2013.03.048

876 A. Tamburini et al. / Chemical Engineering Journal 223 (2013) 875–890

Nomenclature

B impeller blade height (m) U velocity (m s1)

C impeller clearance (m) W bafﬂe width (m)

CD drag coefﬁcient (–) xsusp mass fraction of suspended solids (–)

D impeller diameter (m) Z axial coordinate (m)

dp particle mean diameter (m)

ft correction factor due to the effect of liquid background Greek letters

turbulence on CD (–) e turbulent dissipation (W kg1)

H liquid height (m) k Kolmogorov length scale (m)

k turbulent kinetic energy (m2 s2) l viscosity (Pa s)

M inter-phase momentum transfer term (N m3) m kinematic viscosity (m2 s1)

N rotational impeller speed (rpm) q density (kg m3)

nr number of computational cells along the radial direction r variation coefﬁcient (–)

(–) rr radial variation coefﬁcient (–)

Njs just suspension speed (rpm) 1 suspension quality (–)

Nss sufﬁcient suspension speed (rpm)

r volumetric fraction (–) Subscripts

rb_av average solid volumetric fraction value (–) a liquid phase

rb_r-av radially averaged solid volumetric fraction value (–) b solid phase

rb_packed solid volumetric fraction maximum packing value (–)

R radial coordinate (m)

solid–liquid stirred systems [57,65]. Surprisingly, it is not easy to approximation depends on several factors, such as geometrical

ﬁnd such data in the literature for partial suspension conditions, conﬁguration and suspension properties: for example radial impel-

despite the interest expressed so far at the industrial level for this lers provide larger concentration gradients than axial impellers,

particular regime [19]. also, the higher the particle size and concentration, the higher

Experimental data on particle distribution in a liquid within a the concentration gradients [4].

stirred tank are usually presented in the form of axial and radial The present work is devoted to the investigation via CFD of the

proﬁles of solids concentration. Such data were collected in the particle distribution in a dense suspension ranging from partial to

past by employing sampling withdrawal techniques [8,4]. Also op- complete suspension conditions. In particular, the CFD model by

tic [1], conductivity [45,54] and acoustic probes [3] were used to Tamburini et al. [58] is the only one purposely developed to deal

measure point-wise particle concentration. In recent years non- with partial suspension conditions. It has been fully validated in

intrusive techniques were employed: in particular tomographic previous works and found to reliably predict integral data in the

techniques, among which the Electrical Resistance Tomography form of (i) suspension curves [58], (ii) Njs [61] and (iii) Nss [63].

(ERT) [31,13], can provide information on particle concentration Such essential data concerning the particle suspension phenome-

distribution throughout the vessel under either complete or partial non, however, do not provide any information on local details since

suspension conditions, as recently documented in the literature they are intrinsically lumped. Investigation of particle distribution

[17]. completes the description of the solid–liquid suspension by adding

Particle distribution can be also measured by means of non a further level of detailed information throughout the whole vessel

intrusive techniques as the light attenuation technique [5,28,36]. volume. Here, the model by Tamburini et al. [58] is tested in order

This technique makes use of a light emitting diode as light source to evaluate its capability to deal with local particle concentration

and a silicon photo-diode as receiver and measures the attenuation distribution under incomplete suspension conditions. Notably, to

that a light beam undergoes while crossing (horizontally along a the authors’ knowledge, no literature work addressed this speciﬁc

chord) the vessel. The results obtainable by this method concern topic so far: all the CFD models proposed in the literature are gen-

the average particle concentration along the line covered by the erally validated against experimental axial proﬁles of solids con-

beam. Such average particle concentration measurements along centration collected at impeller speeds equal or higher than Njs

the chord have been considered, though as an approximation [1], (as examples see [33,36,69,37,38,43,21,70]).

to be representative of the average concentration in the whole hor-

izontal section, on the basis of the assumption that radial proﬁles 2. System investigated

were fairly ﬂat [4]. This last speciﬁc approximation can be easily

found in the literature [28–30]. Micheletti et al. [35] proposed a The data employed for the validation of the CFD simulations

method to assess the suspension curve. The particle concentration derive from the literature [35]. In particular, a ﬂat bottomed

at a speciﬁc radial and azimuthal location and at different axial vessel with a diameter T = 0.29 m was investigated. The liquid

positions were measured by means of a conductivity probe. They level height H was equal to T. The tank was stirred by a

integrated all local concentrations measured above the unsuspend- six-bladed Rushton turbine with a diameter D equal to T/3. The

ed solids bed by assuming that each local concentration was repre- offset of the impeller from the vessel bottom C was equal to

sentative of the average solids concentration at the relevant vessel T/3. A sketch of the system under investigation is depicted in

cross section. Fig. 1. A dense solid–liquid suspension was studied: distilled

The distribution of solid particles in a stirred vessel is a quite water (qa = 1000 kg/m3) and mono-dispersed glass particles

complex function of velocity ﬁeld, turbulence characteristics and (dp = 600–710 lm; qb = 2470 kg/m3) with a concentration of 25%

liquid-particle interactions. Thus, the soundness of the former wsolid/wliquid were used for all cases.

A. Tamburini et al. / Chemical Engineering Journal 223 (2013) 875–890 877

concentrations. More precisely, local steady state normalized sol-

ids concentrations measurements at a radial position R/T = 0.35

(see Fig. 2), midway between bafﬂes and at different heights of

the tank, were collected by Micheletti et al. [35] using a conductiv-

B=D/5

ity probe.

H=T

volume fraction of the particle bed lying on the bottom under no

agitation conditions: this value was found to be about 40%. The

minimum impeller speed for complete suspension according to

C=T/3

found equal to 988 rpm.

Further details on the geometrical and physical features of this

D=T/3 system can be found in Micheletti et al. [35].

T

3. Modelling

liquid suspensions. Some researchers employ the Eulerian–

Lagrangian approach, based either on RANS models or on

Large Eddy Simulation (LES) for the continuous phase and on a

Lagrangian model for tracking the particles [11]. This method pre-

sents the advantage of using a more accurate approach for solving

A=D/4 the ﬂuid N–S equations, thus providing potentially better results.

However, computational requirements are very large and directly

related to the number of particles to be individually tracked.

Other approaches are based on Eulerian–Eulerian frameworks

T = 0.29 m along with the Multi Fluid Model (MFM). The two phases are trea-

ted as two interpenetrating continua: the continuity and momen-

Fig. 1. Micheletti et al. [35] system.

tum equations are solved for each phase, thus obtaining separate

ﬂow ﬁeld solutions for the liquid and the solid phase simulta-

neously. The two phases share the same pressure ﬁeld. MFM mod-

els are usually preferred for their simplicity [42]; [34,38,56], which

allows lower computing requirements.

Accounting for a distribution of particle sizes in the Euleri-

an–Eulerian Multi Fluid Model would require the deﬁnition of

a number of different solid phases with different characteristic

diameters thus leading to very large computational require-

ments. In the present work, only mono-dispersed glass particles

were simulated (dp = 600–710 lm) thus limiting the associated

complications.

Reynolds Averaged Navier Stokes simulations were carried out

by means of the commercial CFD code AnsysÒ CFX4.4 [9].

A number of modelling approaches have been tested in the

present work in order to predict the particle distribution under

partial-to-complete suspension conditions: the main features of

such models and results are reported in Tab. 1. Only some of these

(including the best ones) are shortly described in the present pa-

per. Further details can be found in Tamburini [55] and in Tambu-

rini et al. [58].

Also, the continuity and momentum equations are the same re-

ported in the paper by Tamburini et al. [58] and are not presented

here for the sake of brevity.

In the momentum equation a molecular viscosity l equal to

that of the liquid was chosen for the solid phase as suggested by

the literature [34,40].

The momentum inter-phase transfer term M was considered to

be equal to the drag force, while contributions due to other forces

(such as the Basset, lift and virtual mass forces) were neglected as

suggested by the literature [25,14,38,40,46,21,56,15,18,50,52]. In

particular, Kasat et al. [21] stated that the Basset force is much

smaller than the inter-phase drag force. Similarly, according to

Tatterson [66], virtual mass and lift force should be considered

as much smaller than the drag force and can be neglected when

Fig. 2. Monitoring position of particle concentration. qb/qa > 2, as it occurs in the present work.

878 A. Tamburini et al. / Chemical Engineering Journal 223 (2013) 875–890

A standard formulation was adopted for the drag force: diffusive terms. The QUICK discretization scheme was employed

for the convective terms. Notably, similar results (not shown in

~ ab 3 C D;slip ft ~b U

~ a j ðU

~b U

~a Þ

M ¼ rb qa jU ð1Þ the following for brevity) were obtained by employing the simpler

4 dp hybrid-upwind differencing scheme, which was also tested.

where the subscripts a and b refer to the continuous and dispersed As concerns the treatment of the impeller-bafﬂe relative rota-

phases respectively, r is their volumetric fraction, q is density, CD is tion, both the steady state Multiple Reference Frame (MRF) by

particle drag coefﬁcient, U is mean velocity and ft is a correction fac- Luo et al. [26] and the time dependent Sliding Grid (SG) algorithm

tor accounting for the inﬂuence of liquid background turbulence on by Murthy et al. [39] were adopted in the present work.

the particle drag coefﬁcient. The particle drag coefﬁcient CD,slip was The position of both the sliding surface (SG) and the surface

estimated by means of the Clift et al. [10] correlation on the basis of separating the two reference frames (MRF) was set in accordance

the slip velocity between the two phases. with the assumptions of Luo et al. [26] at the radial position

A universally validated and accepted correlation for the modiﬁ- 0.62T/2.

cation of the particle drag coefﬁcient due to the liquid background For all the SG simulations a time step equal to the time the

turbulence is lacking in the literature on solid–liquid suspensions. impeller needs to sweep an azimuthal angle equal to a cell (one cell

Brucato et al. [6] and Pinelli et al. [48] correlated the drag correc- time step) was adopted. Such a choice corresponds to a Courant

tion with the ratio between particle size and Kolmogorov length number equal to 1 along the azimuthal direction. A time step half

scale, and either of their correlations has been adopted in a very as large was also tested, but practically identical results were

large number of papers on suspensions. The two correlations, found [58].

which were both tested in the present work, are: In MRF simulations typically 12,000 SIMPLEC iterations were

Brucato et al. [6]: found to be sufﬁcient to allow variable residuals to settle to very

" low values for all the cases investigated. Only for the case with

3 #

dp the lowest impeller speed (i.e. 400 rpm) some additional iterations

ft;Brucato ¼ 1 þ 8:76 104 ð2Þ (4000 was more than sufﬁcient) were necessary to allow the ESVC

k

algorithm to operate a sufﬁcient number of times and thus avoid-

Pinelli et al. [48]: ing any over-packing issue.

2 As far as the SG simulations are concerned, 100 full revolutions

k were considered sufﬁcient to reach steady state conditions in all

ft;Pinelli ¼ 0:6 þ 0:4 tanh 16 1 ð3Þ

dp cases, consistently with what can be found in the literature for

In which k is the Kolmogorov length scale, calculated by similar systems [34,56,58]. The number of SIMPLEC iterations per

time step was set to 30 with the aim of allowing residuals to settle

k ¼ ðm3 =eÞ0:25 ð4Þ before moving to the next time step.

As regards the initial condition, particles were considered to be

The local dissipation of turbulent kinetic energy e is provided by the motionless on vessel bottom and at their maximum packing vol-

turbulence model. ume fraction rb_packed.

Other papers exist [24,12] where some dependence on either For both phases no slip boundary conditions were assumed for

the Stokes number or the Richardson number is invoked. all tank boundaries with the exception of the top surface where

All these studies refer to highly dilute suspensions, while no free slip conditions were imposed.

experimental study on dense suspensions (and therefore on the As far as the system’s discretization is concerned a structured

possible interaction between background turbulence correction grid totally composed of hexahedrons was employed according

and hindered settling) has been conducted so far. to the simple geometry of the system under investigation (Rushton

However, Khopkar et al. [23] investigated the phenomenon via impellers geometry is very simple with respect to, for instance,

CFD: they simulated the ﬂow of water through an array of cylin- hydrofoil impellers) and in order to keep low the number of com-

ders, with different packing features representing the particle con- putational cells [52,62]. In accordance with system’s axial symme-

centration and computed the drag of the cylinders. The

Kolmogorov length-scale was controlled by imposing a turbulence

energy source term. They proposed a correlation having the same

form as that of Brucato et al. [6], but with a coefﬁcient reduced

by a factor of 10; no clear packing effects were found so that the

correlation does not include the particle concentration. Despite

the geometrical difference between the above 2-D geometry and

a real particle suspension [15], this modiﬁed correlation was em-

ployed also in other papers [21,51,68]. However, this crude reduc-

tion of the corrective coefﬁcient does not appear to be physically

justiﬁed and was not tested in the present simulations.

The asymmetric ke turbulence model [58] was employed: only

the turbulence of the liquid phase was accounted for, while no tur-

bulence was assumed in the solid phase. This choice had previously

been found suitable to model dense solid–liquid suspensions in

stirred tanks under partial-to-complete suspension regimes

[55,58]. The relevant equations can be found in Tamburini et al.

[58].

4. Numerical details

sure and velocity. Central differences were employed for all Fig. 3. The computational grid employed.

A. Tamburini et al. / Chemical Engineering Journal 223 (2013) 875–890 879

try, only one half of the tank was included in the computational do- rb_packed = 0.6) is very well predicted by CFD simulations, thus con-

main and two periodic boundaries were imposed along the azi- ﬁrming the effectiveness of the ESVC algorithm. Actually, the CFD

muthal direction. The structured grid chosen for the simulation for the 400 rpm cases slightly underestimates the par-

discretization of this half-tank encompasses 74,592 cells distrib- ticle concentration in the upper region of the vessel (Z/H P 0.4)

uted as 72 37 28 along the axial, radial and azimuthal direc- with respect to the experimental data.

tion respectively (Fig. 3). Similar considerations can be inferred from the relevant results

The computational grid is ﬁner in the vicinity of the impeller shown in Fig. 5a where the solids resting on the bottom: most solid

where the largest gradients of velocities and other ﬂow variables particles are not suspended laying on the vessel bottom (sediment)

are expected. In the SG simulations, the above mentioned 100 are shown in grey: the sediment appears to be only slightly drawn

impeller revolutions correspond to 5600 time steps, resulting in by the ﬂow ﬁeld; also, very few particles are suspended and they

168,000 SIMPLEC iterations, a remarkable number in comparison do not reach a height higher than the impeller plane.

with the 8000 SIMPLEC iterations of MRF simulations. The steady state simulation performed via the MRF approach for

Grids up to eight times ﬁner were employed to simulate the the same test case (dashed line in Fig. 4a) provides results quite

system under investigation and no appreciable differences in the similar to the SG ones, especially near the free surface (i.e. Z/

results were found [55]. In particular the mean value of the dis- H > 0.7) and bottom of the vessel (i.e. Z/H < 0.1), conversely, some

crepancy between the ﬁnest grid and the grid adopted here was differences can be observed in the vicinity of the impeller plane:

found to be 1.0% for rb which is the main variable taken into ac- in particular the experimental data are underestimated by the

count in Section 5. MRF simulation at Z/H = 0.2, also, the MRF proﬁles shows a spike

Under highly incomplete suspension conditions, overpacking is- in concentration at about Z/H = 0.35T not exhibited by the experi-

sues may occur during the simulation thus leading to unphysical mental proﬁle. Notably, the results relevant to the SG approach

results: when no solid pressure term is included in the solid phase corresponds to an instantaneous system position when the impel-

momentum equation, the solids volume fraction may exceed the ler blade is midway between two subsequent bafﬂes; the frozen

maximum physically allowed rb_packed value (=0.6). In order to positions investigated by the MRF is equal to the SG instantaneous

solve this problem, in the present work alternative approaches one for comparison purposes. However, when local axial proﬁles

were tested, as reported in Table 1 (simple solid pressure model, are obtained via SG by averaging data over an entire impeller rev-

granular kinetic theory), leading to the adoption of the Excess Solid olution no differences were found (Fig. 6).

Volume Fraction Correction (ESVC) algorithm (proposed by Tambu- At 500 rpm (Fig. 4b) the SG-model predicts the experimental

rini et al. [56] and successively optimized by Tamburini et al. [58]). data with a fair accuracy: the ﬁgure shows that the experimental

Only a negligible amount of solid-excess was found in the simula- axial trend of solids concentration is correctly predicted at all ves-

tions even at the very lowest impeller speeds: in particular in all sel heights but at Z/H = 0.1, where a lower value of rb was found.

cases and inside all computational cells rb was always found to Conversely, the MRF fails to predict the experimental proﬁle of

be lower than 0.605. rb: the MRF results largely over-predict the experimental rb values

When partial suspension conditions are dealt with, it is also above the impeller plane and largely under-predict them below the

necessary to allow the code to distinguish the suspended particles impeller plane.

from the unsuspended ones. The Unsuspended Solids Criterion As concerns the unsuspended particle distribution throughout

(USC) by Tamburini et al. [58] addresses this issue and it was con- the whole tank, clearly the amount of sediment is reduced as the

sequently employed in the present work. impeller rotational speed increases from 400 rpm to 500 rpm. As

Both the ESVC and USC algorithms were found suitable to deal it can be seen in Fig. 5b, at 500 rpm more particles are suspended

with solid–liquid suspensions in bafﬂed stirred tank under partial and some of them reach the upper part of the vessel: this is in

to complete suspension regimes [58,61]. Other details on these agreement with the local data provided in Fig. 4b. Also, at this

algorithms can be found in previous works [58,61]. speed the ﬂow discharged by the impeller starts to signiﬁcantly

proﬁle the sediment shape: near the lateral wall the sediment is

present only on the trailing side of the bafﬂes which shield it from

5. Results and discussion the water ﬂow.

At 600 rpm (Fig. 4c), below the impeller plane both the SG and

5.1. Choice of the impeller modelling technique the MRF approaches yield a large underestimation of the experi-

mental data, which may be related either to an inadequate model-

As already mentioned in the introduction section, the model ling of the inter-phase forces or to an inaccurate prediction of the

proposed by Tamburini et al. [58] was found able to predict the details of the sediment shape. In the upper part of the vessel only

amount and the shape of settled solids, as well as the minimum very slight differences between experimental data and computa-

impeller speed for complete suspension. In the present work it is tional SG results are observable. In this region, MRF proﬁles are dif-

further tested with the aim of evaluating its capability to predict ferent from SG ones and in worse agreement with the

also local quantities, i.e. the local axial proﬁles of solids concentra- experimental data.

tion at different impeller speeds ranging from partial to complete At 700 rpm (Fig. 4d) a good agreement between the experimen-

suspension conditions. tal proﬁle and the SG-model predictions is visible above the impel-

Notably, these CFD simulations represent the ﬁrst attempt in ler plane: only the experimental point at the highest elevation is

the literature to predict the solid distribution in a stirred tank un- not perfectly predicted by the CFD simulation. Below the impeller

der partial suspension conditions. plane, the ﬁgure shows an underestimation compared with the

Simulation results are presented in Fig. 4 for the case described experimental data whose amplitude appears to be lower than in

in Section 2. the 600 rpm case. The MRF model results exhibit a slightly larger

At 400 rpm (solid line in Fig. 4a), i.e. an impeller speed much underestimation of the experimental data below the impeller

lower than Njs, the model along with the SG algorithm manages plane and a wrong shape of the concentration proﬁle above it.

to predict with high accuracy the experimental proﬁle: only slight The Njs calculated by Micheletti et al. [35] by means of Zwieter-

differences among CFD results and experiments are observable. ing’s correlation was found to be 988 rpm so that all the experi-

The presence of particles near the vessel bottom with a volumetric mental proﬁles discussed so far are relevant to partial suspension

fraction corresponding to the maximum allowed one (i.e. conditions. On the other hand, the impeller speed of 1100 rpm

880

Table 1

Modelling approaches tested for the predictions of suspension curves.

Case Turbulence dispersion Turbulence model Hindered settling modelling Free stream turbulence Overpacking issues treatment Particle distribution prediction results

number correction on the base

drag coefﬁcient

None Addtional terms Asymmetric Homogeneous None Gidaspow’s Piecewise None Brucato Pinelli ESVCe Solid Granular

in continuity k–e k–e (Eq. dense correlationd et al. et al. pressure kinetic

equationb (6)) particle (1998a) [48] modelf theoryg

effectc

1 Inconsistent results for high dp/ka

2 Good for all the impeller speeds investigateda

3 Fair underestimation of the particle distribution

degreea

4 Signifact overpacking issues however present at

the lowest impeller speeds

5 Some numerical convergence issues or

unphysical results at the lowest impeller speeds

6 Overpredictions of the particle distribution

degree at suspension starting (i.e. intermediate

impeller speeds, 500 rpm)

7 Overpredictions of the particle distribution

degree at suspension starting (i.e. intermediate

impeller speeds, 500 rpm)

8 Good for all cases. Results very similar to case

#2. Overpredictions of Njs

9 Large overpredictions at the lowest impeller

speeds. Good results for all other cases

Notes: all cases use the Clift et al. [10] correlation to compute the base value for the drag coefﬁcient (CD,slip).

a

Modelling approaches described and discussed in the present paper.

b

Last term of LHS of Eq. (1) in Montante and Magelli [38]. A turbulent Prandtl number equal to 0.8 was employed for these terms.

A. Tamburini et al. / Chemical Engineering Journal 223 (2013) 875–890

c

Eq. (13) in Tamburini et al. [56] for any rb value.

d

Eqs. (13)–(15) in Tamburini et al. [56] depending on rb.

e

Excess Solid Volume Correction algorithm by Tamburini et al. [58] brieﬂy described in the present work.

f

Named also as the Simple Solid Pressure Model: see Eq. (15) in Fletcher and Brown [15]. A coefﬁcient equal to either 20 [15] or 600 [16] was employed.

g

Van Wachem et al. [67]. A restitution coefﬁcient equal to either 0.6 or 0.9 was tested.

A. Tamburini et al. / Chemical Engineering Journal 223 (2013) 875–890 881

1.0 1.0

0.9 Experimental_400rpm 0.9

Experimental_500rpm

0.8 0.8

SG_Brucato et al. correlation

0.7 0.7 SG_Brucato et al. correlation

0.6 MRF_Brucato et al. correlation 0.6

Z/H [-]

Z/H [-]

0.5 0.5

0.4 0.4

0.3

(a) 0.3

(b)

0.2 0.2

0.1 0.1

0.0 0.0

0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6

rβ [-] rβ [-]

1.0 1.0

0.9 0.9 Experimental_700rpm

Experimental_600rpm

0.8 0.8

0.7 SG_Brucato et al. correlation 0.7 SG_Brucato et al. correlation

0.6 0.6

Z/H [-]

Z/H [-]

MRF_Brucato et al. correlation

0.5 0.5

0.4 0.4

0.3 0.3

0.2 (c) 0.2 (d)

0.1 0.1

0.0 0.0

0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6

rβ [-] rβ [-]

1.0

0.9 Experimental_1100rpm

0.8

0.7 SG_Brucato et al. correlation

0.6

Z/H [-]

0.4

0.3

0.2 (e)

0.1

0.0

0.0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6

rβ [-]

Fig. 4. SG/MRF simulations versus experimental local axial proﬁles of rb (midway between subsequent bafﬂes and at R = 0.35T) at different impeller speeds: (a) 400 rpm, (b)

500 rpm, (c) 600 rpm, (d) 700 rpm, (e) 1100 rpm. Experiments were collected by Micheletti et al. [35] (Njs = 988 rpm).

Fig. 5. 3-D sediment volume plot upon contour plots of solid volumetric fractions on a vertical diametrical plane at three different impeller speeds for the case of the SG

simulations: (a) 400 rpm, (b) 500 rpm, (c) 1100 rpm. The arrow indicates the direction of the impeller rotation.

882 A. Tamburini et al. / Chemical Engineering Journal 223 (2013) 875–890

1.0 1.0

0.9 Experimental_400rpm 0.9 Experimental_1100rpm

0.8 0.8

SG_Brucato et al. correlation SG_Brucato et al. correlation

0.7 0.7

0.6 SG_Brucato et al. correlation_impeller 0.6

Z/H [-]

Z/H [-]

revolution average revolution average

0.5 0.5

0.4 0.4

0.3 0.3

0.2 0.2

0.1 0.1

0.0 0.0

0.0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6

rβ [-] rβ [-]

Fig. 6. SG simulations versus experimental [35] local axial proﬁles of rb (midway between subsequent bafﬂes and at R = 0.35T) at some different impeller speeds. Comparison

between instantaneous time-averaged SG data.

(Fig. 4e) is higher than Njs but lower than the speed necessary for Table 2

the achievement of homogeneous suspension conditions: in other Inﬂuence of liquid free stream turbulence on drag coefﬁcient.

words, the case of 1100 rpm is representative of the commonly N (rpm) Brucato et al. correlation Pinelli et al. correlation

investigated regime of complete suspension. As a matter of fact, dp/k ft dp/k ft

for this speed Fig. 5c does not show any ﬁllets on the vessel bottom

400 14.45 3.61 14.49 2.43

thus conﬁrming that the suspension is complete. It also shows that 500 17.52 5.66 17.34 3.09

particles distribute following the liquid ﬂow discharged by the 600 20.42 8.38 20.47 3.78

impeller and assume the typical double loop conﬁguration. As 700 22.67 11.10 22.63 4.23

concerns the local concentration proﬁle, a very good agreement 800 25.13 14.76 25.00 4.69

900 27.51 19.05 27.32 5.09

between the SG-model prediction and the experimental proﬁle is

1000 29.82 23.98 29.57 5.45

observable at this impeller speed in Fig. 4e. Notably, the under- 1100 32.07 29.60 31.76 5.77

predictions formerly seen below the impeller plane for the

600 rpm and 700 rpm (Fig. 4c and d) cases completely disappear

in the present case. Only the experimental point corresponding

corrections provided by the two correlations are summarized in

to the impeller plane height is slightly under-predicted. The

Table 2 while the results obtained are shown in Fig. 7.

MRF-model predictions are very similar to the SG-model ones,

At 400 rpm (Fig. 7a) the two correlations provide practically

even if larger discrepancies (both below and above the impeller

identical axial proﬁles, as expected in relation to the quite similar

plane) can be observed, especially near the free surface.

enhancements of the drag coefﬁcient observable in Table 2.

Tamburini et al. [58] found that very similar results are pro-

As a difference from the Brucato et al. correlation results, at

vided by SG and MRF in terms of mass fraction of solids resting

500 rpm, Fig. 7b, the drag coefﬁcient increase predicted by the

on the bottom (i.e. xsusp). Conversely differences in the local axial

Pinelli et al. correlation is not sufﬁcient to follow well the experi-

rb proﬁles were found at all speeds in the present work, as shown

mental proﬁle above the impeller plane. More precisely, the Pinelli

in Fig. 4. Summarizing, it can be stated that for the case of partial

et al. correlation results show a concentration equal to zero above

suspension conditions, integral data can be predicted with very

the impeller plane, while the Brucato et al. correlation predict non

similar accuracy by SG and MRF simulations, while local informa-

negligible values in accordance with the experimental data. Con-

tion is better predicted by employing the SG approach. This is not

versely, at Z/H = 0.1 the experimental data is very well predicted

surprising, since the CFD prediction of local data concerning solid

by the Pinelli et al. correlation, while a large underestimation is ob-

concentration values at different vessel heights requires a more

tained by employing the Brucato et al. one.

accurate calculation. As a matter of fact, in accordance with the rel-

At 600 rpm, Fig. 7c, and 700 rpm, Fig. 7d, both models underes-

evant literature [32,42,46], a transient CFD simulation approach

timate the experimental data below the impeller plane and exhibit

based on the fully predictive SG algorithm accounts for the tempo-

only moderate differences from each other.

ral variations in the mixing tank thus providing better predictions

At 1100 rpm (complete suspension conditions, Fig. 7e) the two

of the liquid ﬂow ﬁeld and solid suspension than the MRF steady

correlations provide similar results above the impeller plane, the

state framework.

main difference concerns the highest experimental point which

is better predicted by the Pinelli et al. correlation. Conversely, be-

low the impeller plane the results obtained by means of the corre-

5.2. Drag-turbulence correlation comparison lation by Pinelli et al. underestimates the corresponding

experimental data. Fig. 7e reports also results obtained by neglect-

Tamburini et al. [58,61] investigated the inﬂuence of different ing the effect of the liquid background turbulence on the particle

correlations accounting for the effect of the liquid background tur- drag (i.e. ft = 1). The corresponding uncorrected particle drag coef-

bulence on the particle drag coefﬁcient for the case of a very sim- ﬁcient is the quantity CD,slip given by the Clift et al. [10] correlation.

ilar system aiming at the prediction of integral data (xsusp, Njs). In This choice yields a severe under-prediction of the particle distri-

the present work the assessment of such choice has been per- bution degree, with a large underestimation of the experimental

formed in order to evaluate the local particle distribution. The data both above and below the impeller plane and an improbable

CFD results presented in the former sub-section were obtained very high rb value on the vessel bottom.

by adopting the Brucato et al. [6] correlation, Eq. (2). In this sub- Notably, at impeller speeds higher than 500 rpm, the Pinelli

section, these results are compared with corresponding ones ob- et al. correlation predicts solid volume fractions on the vessel bot-

tained by the Pinelli et al. [48] correlation, Eq. (3). The different tom which are higher than those predicted by the Brucato et al.

A. Tamburini et al. / Chemical Engineering Journal 223 (2013) 875–890 883

1.0 1.0

0.9 Experimental_400rpm 0.9

Experimental_500rpm

0.8 0.8

SG_Brucato et al. correlation SG_Brucato et al. correlation

0.7 0.7

SG_Pinelli et al. correlation

Z/H [-]

0.6 0.6 SG_Pinelli et al. correlation

Z/H [-]

0.5 0.5

0.4

0.4

(a) 0.3

(b)

0.3

0.2 0.2

0.1 0.1

0.0 0.0

0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6

rβ [-] rβ [-]

1.0 1.0

0.9 0.9

Experimental_600rpm Experimental_700rpm

0.8 0.8

0.7 SG_Brucato et al. correlation 0.7 SG_Brucato et al. correlation

0.6

Z/H [-]

0.6

Z/H [-]

0.5 0.5

0.4 0.4

0.3 0.3

0.2

(c) 0.2

(d)

0.1 0.1

0.0 0.0

0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0 0 0 0 0 1 1

rβ [-] rβ [-]

1.0

0.9 Experimental_1100rpm

0.8

SG_Brucato et al. correlation

0.7

0.6 SG_Pinelli et al. correlation

Z/H [-]

0.4

0.3

0.2 (e)

0.1

0.0

0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6

rβ [-]

Fig. 7. SG simulations versus experimental [35] local axial proﬁles of rb (midway between subsequent bafﬂes and at R = 0.35T) at some different impeller speeds: (a) 400 rpm,

(b) 500 rpm, (c) 600 rpm, (d) 700 rpm, (e) 1100 rpm. Comparison of different correlations for the drag coefﬁcient correction due to the background liquid turbulence.

correlation. This would lead to smaller vessel bottom zones where by the Pinelli et al. correction are lower than those obtained via

rb < rb_packed thus yielding lower values of xsusp. Such hypothesis is Brucato et al. correction. This result is in accordance with the ﬁnd-

conﬁrmed by the suspension curve (i.e. xsusp versus N) shown in ings of Tamburini et al. [58] who adopts the Pinelli et al. correlation

Fig. 6: at intermediate impeller speeds the xsusp values provided for the case of the largest particle size they investigated (500–

600 lm) ﬁnding xsusp values which were lower and closer to the

experimental data with respect to the Brucato et al. correction

predictions.

1.0

Fig. 8 shows also that neglecting the effect of liquid background

0.9

turbulence on drag coefﬁcient leads to a fraction of suspended par-

0.8

0.7 SG_Brucato et al. correlation ticles different from one at impeller speeds clearly corresponding

to complete suspension conditions, thus resulting in a non physical

xsusp [-]

0.5 outcome. Therefore, both solids suspension and distribution phe-

SG_No drag coefficient correction

0.4 nomena are signiﬁcantly affected by the drag coefﬁcient correction

0.3 Njs_Zwietering

and they can be predicted only if this effect is properly accounted

0.2 for.

0.1

Summarizing the comparison between the two correlations

0.0

300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000 1100 1200 tested, it can be stated that the Brucato et al. correlation is capable

to predict with good accuracy the local axial proﬁles of rb, but xsusp

N [rpm]

may be overestimated for large particles. The Pinelli et al. correla-

Fig. 8. SG suspension curve data: comparison of different correlations for the drag tion provides a lower enhancement of the particle drag coefﬁcient

coefﬁcient correction due to the background liquid turbulence. at high dp/k so that it can predict well the amount of still particles

884 A. Tamburini et al. / Chemical Engineering Journal 223 (2013) 875–890

Fig. 9. SG contour plots of solids volumetric fraction on horizontal planes at different vessel heights (i.e. 0.1H, 0.3H, 0.5H, 0.7H, 0.9H) at different impeller speeds: (a) 400 rpm,

(b) 500 rpm, (c) 600 rpm, (d) 700 rpm, (e) 1100 rpm.

lying on the bottom and thus the suspension curve, but is not com- attenuation technique, [28]. This choice is based on the assumption

parably successful in predicting the particle distribution through- that either the radial gradients of solids concentration or both ra-

out the vessel. Similar differences have been already reported in dial and azimuthal gradients are negligible.

the literature [23,21]. In order to qualitatively evaluate the reliability of this approxi-

We are aware that the approaches tested in the present work mation, computed contour plots of the solids volumetric fraction

have not a universal validity, but neglecting the effect of back- on horizontal planes at different vessel heights (i.e. 0.1H, 0.3H,

ground turbulence on the drag coefﬁcient altogether leads to unre- 0.5H, 0.7H, 0.9H) are reported in Fig. 9 for different rotational

liable results (as it was largely demonstrated in other works), and speeds.

at the present time there are no more reliable alternatives available As it can be seen in Fig. 5a, at the lowest impeller speed (i.e.

in the literature. Further research on this topic would certainly be 400 rpm), the tank is practically divided in two parts separated

desirable, but clearly this is not the focus of the present work. by an almost ﬂat interface: the upper part is full of liquid only,

Moreover, up to now very few papers have included compari- the lower one is characterized by the presence of still solids exhib-

sons between different correlations: most of the studies presented iting a rb = rb_packed. In these conditions, as shown in Fig. 9a, radial

so far adopt only one of them and compare the results with exper- and azimuthal gradients are important only in the proximity of the

imental data, so that it is not clear which correlation should be re- interface between these two zones, while they can be reasonably

garded as being the most reliable. neglected in the rest of the tank.

At 500 rpm, three different zones separated by two widespread

5.3. Radial proﬁles of particle concentration interfaces can be recognized: the sediment zone, the suspension

zone and the almost-clear liquid layer zone (Fig. 9b). As concerns

All the axial proﬁles presented so far refer to a speciﬁc radial the sediment-suspension interface, at this higher agitation speed

and azimuthal location: in the literature it is easy to ﬁnd similar lo- the sediment is proﬁled by the liquid ﬂow and exhibits a more

cal data, especially when solids concentration is measured by complex shape. This three-dimensional shape of the sediment-sus-

intrusive techniques making use of a probe. Such local information pension interface makes the assumption of negligible radial and

is sometimes considered as being representative of the whole ra- azimuthal rb gradients unacceptable. The contour plot of rb at

dial direction [27,4,53,30,29,35] or even of the whole horizontal Z = 0.1H, reported in Fig. 9b, exhibits the typical shape of a four-

plane (e.g. this is the case of measurements taken by the light arm star, thus proving the prominence of the rb gradients. Similar

A. Tamburini et al. / Chemical Engineering Journal 223 (2013) 875–890 885

considerations can be done for the case of the interface separating radial gradients of rb everywhere except for the proximity of the

the suspension and the almost-clear liquid layer although radial above mentioned interface.

and azimuthal gradients are less marked. Moreover, it is worth noting that the azimuthal gradients, if any,

As the impeller speed increases and more particles are sus- are signiﬁcant only in the proximities of the bafﬂes, while they are

pended (i.e. 600 rpm and 700 rpm, Fig. 9c and d), the extension less important in the inner parts of the vessel.

of the suspension zone increases: signiﬁcant gradients are however In Fig. 10 the local axial proﬁles already shown in Fig. 4 are

observable in the proximities of the two interfaces, especially near compared with corresponding radially averaged proﬁles. In accor-

the sediment-suspension interface. dance with the comments made in Fig. 9, at 400 rpm (Fig. 10a)

When complete suspension conditions are achieved (i.e. some discrepancies between the two axial proﬁles are observable

1100 rpm) the whole vessel volume is occupied only by the so- only in the proximity of the sediment interface. Also the compari-

lid–liquid suspension region and far less signiﬁcant concentration son at 500 rpm (Fig. 10b) conﬁrms the considerations made on the

gradients are present (Fig. 9e). corresponding contour plots of Fig. 5b: the local and the radially

The presence of non-negligible radial concentration gradients averaged proﬁles mainly differ in the vicinity of the two wide-

near the suspension-clear liquid interface is in accordance with spread interfaces (sediment-suspension and suspension-almost

the ﬁndings of [30] who measured the local solids concentration clear liquid layer). At higher impeller speeds (i.e. 600 rpm and

by means of a conductivity probe for the case of a conical-bot- 700 rpm, lower than Njs), Fig. 10c and d, the difference between

tomed bafﬂed tank stirred by a down-pumping pitched blade tur- the local and the radially averaged proﬁles decreases as the impel-

bine. They dealt with partial-to-complete suspension conditions ler speed increases both in the upper and in the lower part of the

and collected radial proﬁles of rb at vessel heights higher than vessel. As regards the upper part, as the impeller speed increases,

the one relevant to the impeller plane. They found nearly negligible more particles reach the vessel top causing the liquid layer to be

1.0 1.0

0.9 0.9

SG_Brucato et al. correlation_local SG_Brucato et al. correlation_local

0.8 0.8

0.7 0.7

SG_Brucato et al. correlation_radially SG_Brucato et al. correlation_radially

0.6

Z/H [-]

0.6

Z/H [-]

averaged averaged

0.5 0.5

0.4 0.4

0.3

(a) 400rpm 0.3

(b) 500rpm

0.2 0.2

0.1 0.1

0.0 0.0

0.0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6

rβ [-] rβ [-]

1.0 1.0

0.9 0.9 SG_Brucato et al. correlation_local

SG_Brucato et al. correlation_local

0.8 0.8

0.7 0.7

SG_Brucato et al. correlation_radially SG_Brucato et al. correlation_radially

0.6

Z/H [-]

0.6

Z/H [-]

averaged averaged

0.5 0.5

0.4 0.4

0.3 0.3

0.2 (c) 600rpm 0.2 (d) 700rpm

0.1 0.1

0.0 0.0

0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6

rβ [-] rβ [-]

1.0

0.9

0.8 SG_Brucato et al. correlation_local

0.7

0.6

Z/H [-]

0.5 averaged

0.4

0.3

0.2 (e) 1100rpm

0.1

0.0

0.0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6

rβ [-]

Fig. 10. Comparison of local and radially averaged SG axial proﬁles of rb (midway between subsequent bafﬂes and at R = 0.35T) at some different impeller speeds: (a) 400 rpm,

(b) 500 rpm, (c) 600 rpm, (d) 700 rpm, (e) 1100 rpm.

886 A. Tamburini et al. / Chemical Engineering Journal 223 (2013) 875–890

completely replaced by the suspension and the suspension-liquid Lower yet still signiﬁcant radial gradients are observable below

layer interface to disappear. As concerns the region below the the impeller plane (i.e. Z = 0.2 H, 0.3 T; Fig. 12b and c) especially at

impeller, the difference between the two proﬁles with the impeller intermediate impeller speeds.

speed is reduced, although radial concentration gradients are far Conversely, the radial gradients are much less pronounced

from being negligible. above the impeller plane (Z P 0.4H) practically at all impeller

At impeller speeds higher than Njs (i.e. 1100 rpm, Fig. 10e) speeds: at low N the solids are mainly located in the lower part

although all particles are suspended and no ﬁllet is present, slight of the vessel resulting in very low and almost constant rb values

differences are however evident in the lower part of the tank, while in the upper part of the tank as the radial proﬁles at 400 rpm

the radial gradients appear not to play any longer a signiﬁcant role and for Z P 0.4H show. At higher N, the proﬁles show only slight,

in the upper part. yet non negligible variations especially near the shaft and in the

Notably, the integration of radially averaged data also along the proximities of the vessel lateral wall.

axial and azimuthal directions provided the correct value of rb_av Moreover, the higher N, the closer the rb value to the average so-

(=0.092) conﬁrming that total solids mass is conserved during lid concentration rb_av. Clearly, at very low radial positions, rb is al-

the CFD simulation. ways equal to zero over the impeller plane because of the presence

The local variation of rb along some radial monitoring lines of the shaft.

placed at different vessel heights (see Fig. 11) was also investigated The extent of particle dispersion along the radial direction is

and the data are presented in Fig. 12. here quantitatively assessed by means of the radial variation coef-

As it can be seen in Fig. 12a, the largest gradients can be ob- ﬁcient rr deﬁned as in the following:

served near the vessel bottom at Z = 0.1H: neglecting the radial sﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃ

2ﬃ

variations of rb at this vessel height may lead to substantial 1 Xnr r bi

mistakes practically at all impeller speeds: in particular at

rr ¼ 1 ð5Þ

nr i¼1 r

b rav

some N the variation of rb covers the entire allowable range (i.e.

0rb_packed). Notably, at 500 rpm (Fig. 12a) and low R/T, the local where rb_rav is the radially averaged solid volumetric fraction va-

rb is lower than rb_packed as a difference with the cases at 400, lue, i denotes the generic ﬁnite volume in CFD work (or a generic

600 and 700 rpm where rb = rb_packed allegedly because (i) at measurement radial-point in experimental work), and nr is the total

500 rpm the sediment height is lower than at 400 rpm (as also number of computational cells along the radial direction. rr values

observable in Fig. 5a and b) while (ii) at N = 600–700 rpm the relevant to the data of Fig. 12 are shown in Fig. 13. Above the impel-

sediment concentrates in the central part of the tank due to the ler plane (Z = H/3), the higher the impeller speed, the higher the

radial ﬂow generated by the higher impeller speed thus reaching particles dispersion degree (i.e. lower rr). This is as expected due

a height higher than that relevant to 500 rpm. to the higher liquid turbulence levels. Conversely, a non monotonic

behaviour is observable in the lower part of the tank, below the

impeller plane. In particular at the lowest impeller speed and vessel

height (i.e. 400 rpm and 0.1H) the solids constitute an almost-

homogeneously distributed sediment (see also Fig. 5a) correspond-

ing to a rb = rb_packed in most of the radial positions of the line. This

leads to a very low rr. At 500 rpm the sediment assumes the star-

like shape thus resulting in a higher rr. At higher impeller speeds

(i.e. 600 rpm, 700 rpm yet lower than Njs) more particles are sus-

pended causing rb to cover a wider range of values and rr to conse-

quently increase. As a difference, at N > Njs all the mechanical power

is employed to distribute more homogeneously the particles

throughout the vessel thereby reducing the concentration gradients

everywhere and in particular also near the vessel bottom: the con-

centration becomes closer to the average value and rr consequently

decreases.

high impeller speeds and a corresponding very large mechanical

power (the power is proportional to the cube of impeller speed),

nevertheless it can be required in some industrial applications

(e.g. crystallization and solid catalyzed reaction). The ‘‘homogene-

ity’’ or ‘‘suspension quality’’ f is a parameter which is very often

employed in the literature to quantify the distribution of solid par-

ticles within the stirred tank. According to Hosseini et al. [17], it

can be deﬁned as:

sﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃﬃ

2ﬃ

1 Xn rb i

f¼1r¼1 1 ð6Þ

n i¼1 r

b av

features of the particle distribution depends on particle type (e.g.

mono- or poli-dispersed), size and concentration and on system

Fig. 11. Monitoring lines for radial proﬁles of solids concentration (i.e. Z = 0.1H, conﬁguration (impeller type, clearance, diameter, etc.), according

0.2H, 0.3H, 0.4H, 0.5H, 0.6H, 0.7H, 0.8H, 0.9H). to the Bohnet and Niesmak [5] classiﬁcation, homogeneous

A. Tamburini et al. / Chemical Engineering Journal 223 (2013) 875–890 887

Z=0.1H Z=0.2H

0.7 0.7 (b)

400rpm 500rpm 600rpm 700rpm 1100rpm

0.6 0.6

0.5 (a) 0.5 400rpm

500rpm

r β [-]

r β [-]

0.4 0.4 600rpm

0.3 0.3 700rpm

1100rpm

0.2 0.2

0.1 0.1

0.0 0.0

0.00 0.05 0.10 0.15 0.20 0.25 0.30 0.35 0.40 0.45 0.50 0.00 0.05 0.10 0.15 0.20 0.25 0.30 0.35 0.40 0.45 0.50

R/T [-] R/T [-]

0.7

Z=0.3H (c) 0.7

Z=0.4H (d)

0.6 0.6

0.5 400rpm 0.5 400rpm

500rpm 500rpm

rβ [-]

rβ [-]

0.4 0.4

600rpm 600rpm

0.3 700rpm 0.3 700rpm

1100rpm 1100rpm

0.2 0.2

0.1 0.1

0.0 0.0

0.00 0.05 0.10 0.15 0.20 0.25 0.30 0.35 0.40 0.45 0.50 0.00 0.05 0.10 0.15 0.20 0.25 0.30 0.35 0.40 0.45 0.50

0.6 0.6

0.5 400rpm 0.5 400rpm

500rpm 500rpm

r β [-]

rβ [-]

0.4 0.4

600rpm 600rpm

0.3 700rpm 0.3 700rpm

1100rpm 1100rpm

0.2 0.2

0.1 0.1

0.0 0.0

0.00 0.05 0.10 0.15 0.20 0.25 0.30 0.35 0.40 0.45 0.50 0.00 0.05 0.10 0.15 0.20 0.25 0.30 0.35 0.40 0.45 0.50

0.6 0.6

0.5 400rpm 0.5 400rpm

500rpm 500rpm

rβ [-]

0.4

r β [-]

0.4

600rpm 600rpm

0.3 700rpm 0.3 700rpm

1100rpm 1100rpm

0.2 0.2

0.1 0.1

0.0 0.0

0.00 0.05 0.10 0.15 0.20 0.25 0.30 0.35 0.40 0.45 0.50 0.00 0.05 0.10 0.15 0.20 0.25 0.30 0.35 0.40 0.45 0.50

0.7 Z=0.9H

0.6

(i)

0.5 400rpm

500rpm

0.4

r β [-]

600rpm

0.3 700rpm

1100rpm

0.2

0.1

0.0

0.00 0.05 0.10 0.15 0.20 0.25 0.30 0.35 0.40 0.45 0.50

R/T [-]

Fig. 12. SG radial proﬁles of solids concentration at different vessel heights and impeller speeds.

888 A. Tamburini et al. / Chemical Engineering Journal 223 (2013) 875–890

0.9 400RPM

solid particles increases. For the case of the present work where a

0.8 500RPM

radial Rushton turbine is employed, f appears to increase as the

600RPM

impeller speed increases in a monotonic way. Conversely the adop-

0.7

tion of high efﬁciency impellers (as the Lightnin A310) leads to the

0.6 700RPM

Z/H [-]

1100RPM

0.5 suspension quality f has attained this peak value, any further in-

0.4 crease in impeller speed is not beneﬁcial but might be dramatically

0.3 detrimental.

0.2 The above considerations relevant to Fig. 14 are further con-

0.1 ﬁrmed by observing Fig. 15 where local (the same radial and azi-

muthal position of the data by Micheletti et al. [35]) rb values at

0.0

0.00 0.20 0.40 0.60 0.80 1.00 1.20 1.40 1.60 1.80 2.00 different vessel heights are reported. As it can be seen, at N Njs

local values of rb are quite different along the axial direction, and

σ r [-] the higher N, the smaller the above difference: the particle concen-

Fig. 13. Radial variation coefﬁcient at different vessel heights and impeller speeds. trations at all vessel heights approach the (‘‘homogeneous’’) value

of rb_av (i.e. 0.092) as N increases, although at 1350 rpm this condi-

tion appears still far from being attained.

6. Conclusions

solid–liquid suspensions within a ﬂat bottomed vessel stirred by

ζ

code by adopting the fully predictive Eulerian–Eulerian Multi Fluid

Model in conjunction with the k–e turbulence model for the con-

tinuous (liquid) phase. The speciﬁc modelling and numerical de-

tails employed were those adopted in Tamburini et al. [58,61,63],

where they reliably predicted global suspension quantities such

as the sediment amount and shape [58] and the impeller speed

for complete [66] and sufﬁcient [68] suspension conditions. Here,

Fig. 14. SG suspension quality as a function of impeller speed.

this model was further tested in order to evaluate its capability

of predicting also the three-dimensional particle distribution phe-

nomenon. Both the time-dependent Sliding Grid (SG) method and

suspension conditions can be considered to be achieved when the steady state Multiple Reference Frame technique (MRF) were

r < 0.2 (i.e. f > 0.8). used. Moreover, in order to account for background turbulence

The results shown in the previous section have shown that at inﬂuence on particle drag coefﬁcient, two different correlations

N > Njs, the higher N, the higher the particle distribution degree were also tested.

throughout the entire vessel. Despite this ﬁnding, by observing Results showed that experimental local axial proﬁles of solid

Fig. 14 it can be stated that homogeneous suspension conditions concentrations (a typical information characterizing particle distri-

are far from being achieved even at very high and economically bution) at different impeller speeds ranging from partial to com-

expensive impeller speeds, especially when the Pinelli et al. corre- plete suspension conditions can be predicted with high accuracy

lation is employed. In this regard, it is well known that similar con- by the Tamburini et al. [58] CFD model. In particular transient SG

ditions are difﬁcult to attain when dense suspensions [30]) and/or simulations were found to be in slightly better agreement with

large particle sizes [17,18] are employed (as in the present work). experiment with respect to steady state MRF simulations.

As a matter of fact, in accordance with Peker and Helvaci [47] the A drag coefﬁcient correction accounting for liquid background

turbulence was found to be necessary to obtain reliable predic-

tions. As concerns the comparison between the two corrections

0.40 tested, the results obtained in the present work along with the

Z/H=0.10 ﬁndings of Tamburini et al. [58] show that for small particles (dp/

0.35 Z/H=0.20

Z/H=0.30 k < 10) the two approaches yield practically identical results

0.30 Z/H=0.40 and both satisfactorily reproduce experimental suspension curves

Z/H=0.50 (i.e. fraction of suspended particles as a function of impeller speed).

0.25

Z/H=0.60

rβ [-]

Z/H=0.70 For the case of large dp/k, the Pinelli et al. [48] correction is more

0.20

Z/H=0.79 suitable for the prediction of the suspension curves, while the Bru-

0.15 Z/H=0.88 cato et al. [6] correction guarantees a better prediction of the spa-

0.10 tial particle distribution. Clearly, swapping from a correlation to

0.05 another in dependence of the phenomenon simulated cannot be

the right ending: rather, the present ﬁndings should be considered

0.00

300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000 1100 1200 1300 1400 as a stimulus to further and broader investigation on this topic.

Although solid concentration radial proﬁles are often neglected

N [rpm]

in the literature, the present results showed that this approxima-

Fig. 15. SG local rb (midway between subsequent bafﬂes and at R = 0.35T) values at tion is far from being realistic in some zones of the tank, especially

different vessel heights as a function of impeller speed. under partial suspension conditions.

A. Tamburini et al. / Chemical Engineering Journal 223 (2013) 875–890 889

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