Shenzhou Ni, Tong Zhao, Zehui Sun, Wei Wang, Kuizu Su

CFD simulation for comparative of hydrodynamic effects in biochemical reactors using population balance model with varied inlet gas distribution profiles

  • General Chemical Engineering

Abstract The operational efficiency of the airlift reactors relies significantly on the aeration and mixing provided by the inlet system. The diffused aeration system is the most energy-intensive component affecting the operation of the bioreactor, accounting for 45–75 % of the energy costs. This study presents a coupled CFD-PBM to investigate the collective impacts of multiple bubble diameters, variations in inlet gas distribution types, and flow rates on the hydrodynamic characteristics of bubble columns. The simulation results were validated through comprehensive comparisons with experimental data. The experimental data and simulations of the single bubble size model (SBSM) and multi-bubble size model (MBSM) were compared, proposing an enhanced inlet gas distribution type. The results indicate a close resemblance between the MBSM data and the experimental results, with an error margin not exceeding 5 %. Moreover, different flow rates were found to cause varying sensitivities in the bubble size distribution (BSD) within the column. Furthermore, the simulation results validate the similarity between lift coefficients and critical diameters to experiments and shed light on favorable conditions for reactor design. The key findings of this study encompass: (1) the use of MBSM can accurately predict the tower system characteristics; (2) the column circulation is intensified with small inlet bubble size and high gas velocity, which is favorable for chemical reactions and microbial aggregation to proceed; and (3) the BSD is not sensitive to the inlet gas distribution type at high flow rates.

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