(64f) Wetting Efficiency in Tubular Reactors With Solid Foam Packing | AIChE

(64f) Wetting Efficiency in Tubular Reactors With Solid Foam Packing


Schubert, M. - Presenter, Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf
Lange, R. - Presenter, Technische Universität Dresden
Mohammed, I., Dresden University of Technology
Bauer, T., Dresden University of Technology

in Tubular Reactors with Solid Foam Packings

Iman Mohammed1,*,
Tobias Bauer1, Markus Schubert2, Rüdiger Lange1

1 Technische Universität Dresden, Institute of Process
Engineering and Environmental Technology, 01062 Dresden, Germany

2 Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, Institute of
Fluid Dynamics, P.O Box 510519, 01314 Dresden, Germany


In the recent
years, the performance of gas-liquid-solid fixed bed reactors with structured
catalysts instead of catalyst particles has been intensively discussed.
Structured catalysts based on solid foams with an open cell structure are in
particular very promising. Such porous structures combine high specific surface
area up to 2000 m2/m3, low single-phase and two-phase
pressure drop due to bed porosities between 75 and 95 %,
and interconnected pores for enhanced heat
and mass transfer (Stemmet et al., 2005; Grosse and Kind, 2011). The
performance of fixed bed reactors with structured catalysts depends heavily on
the gas-liquid-solid contacting pattern. For a broad range of flow conditions,
the liquid phase does not cover the solid surface homogeneously, which is known
as partial wetting.

The externally wetted fraction, which is defined as fraction of the
external solid foam area covered by the liquid phase to the total external
solid foam area, is directly linked to the liquid-solid and gas-solid mass
transfer and thus, to the overall rate of reaction. The wetting fraction is a
function of the superficial gas and liquid velocity and depends also on the physical
properties of the liquid phase as well as catalyst shape, surface, porosity,
etc. (Nigam and Larachi, 2005). However, studies on the wetting efficiency in
trickle bed reactors also indicated the impact of the pre-wetting mode (Joubert
and Nicol, 2012).

The aim of this work was
to adopt an electrochemical method for: (a) measuring the wetting fraction in tubular reactors
with solid foam packings and (b) to study the effect of pre-wetting.


Method and experimental setup

To solve the aforementioned
tasks, a known electrochemical method has been modified to investigate the external
wetting fraction in a tubular reactor packed with solid foam. The idea is based
on the application of the kinetically-limited regime of the electrochemical polarization
curve (Hanaratty and Campbell, 1983).


Effect of liquid superficial velocity (uL) on the shape of the polarization
curves (25 ppi polyurethane foam, uG = 0.1 m/s).

The polarization
curves for different flow conditions are depicted in Figure 1. The first part of
the curve represents the region where the kinetics of the reduction reaction determines
the rate of reaction at the wetted area of the electrode. Here, the slope of the line is a function of the area available for the electrochemical
reaction, i.e. wetted fraction of the electrode. The polarization curve is determined
by measuring the current at low voltage. Measurements under flooding condition
represent 100% wetting (under negligible mass transfer condition). In order to calibrate
the wetted area, cathodes with different cathode sizes were applied (Figure 2),
which mimic different wetted areas at flooding condition.


(a) Different Ni foam sizes used for the calibration (b) zoom into the Ni foam.

Gas (N2) and liquid phase
(electrolyte solution of K4Fe(CN)6
K3Fe(CN)6 and NaOH) were fed co-currently in downflow mode
of operation. Polyurethane foam cylinders of 10 cm
diameter with different foam densities (10, 20 and 25) were used as packing.
The nickel foam discs in between were acting as cathode and anode. The nickel
foam (Ni, 99% purity, from Alantum
Europe) was of the same foam density as the
polyurethane foam cylinders. The total height
of the packing was 1.0 m. The wetting measurements were performed at two axial
positions of the packing (27 and 108 cm) downstream the distributor. The pre-wetting
of the foam packings were based on LEVEC and KAN-LIQUID modes (Levec et al.,
1986). Furthermore three liquid distributors (spray nozzle, single point and multipoint)
were used to study the effect of the initial liquid distribution on the wetting.

Result and discussion

Figure 3 shows the
wetting fraction for 10 ppi foam at the upper part of the packing (27 cm below
the distributor). The wetting fraction increases with increasing liquid velocity.
A negligible effect of the gas velocity was found. The phenomena of
multiplicity of the wetting fraction were not observed. This indicates equivalent
liquid distribution in the upper part of the packing in the both pre-wetting

Figure 3: Wetting
fraction for 10 ppi solid foam using spray nozzle distributor at two axial
positions (filled symbol LEVEC pre-wetting mode, open symbol KAN-LIQUID
pre-wetting mode).

At the lower part of
the packing (108 cm) higher values of the wetting fraction were measured, which
can be related to evolving liquid spreading on the foam surface. The effect of
multiplicity was clearly observed depending on the pre-wetting mode. The
wetting fraction is higher in KAN-LIQUID pre-wetting mode in comparison to the
film flow characteristic at KAN-LIQUID pre-wetting mode. At LEVEC pre-wetting mode, the liquid
phase is characterized by rivulet flow.



Wetting fraction
measurements were performed in solid foams with different pre-wetting history
using a modified electrochemical measurement method. The study shows the effect
of operating conditions and pre-wetting modes on the wetting fraction at
different axial position in the solid foam packing. Additional results for
different foam densities will also be presented in the poster. The data will be
used to calculate liquid-solid mass transfer coefficients as well.


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C.P Stemmet, J.N. Jongmans, J. van
der Schaaf, B.F.M. Kuster, J.C. Schouten,
Hydrodynamics of gas-liquid counter-current flow in solid foam packings, Chem.
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K.D.P. Nigam, F. Larachi, Process
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Joubert, R. and W. Nicol Trickle flow
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of electrochemical tchniques to study mass transfer rate and local skin
freaction to a spere in a dumped bed,  AIChE J. 158(2) (1969)
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