(123a) Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) for Process and Equipment Design and Development | AIChE

(123a) Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) for Process and Equipment Design and Development

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is a powerful tool for the analysis and solution of fluid flows that may involve additional physics such as chemical reactions, heat and mass transfer commonly encountered in refining and petrochemical processes.  With the advancement of computer speed and CFD software in the past several decades, it has become a practical predictive tool for modeling large-scale industrial processes and equipments with complex geometry, allowing scientists and engineers to perform “numerical experiments” during different stages of research, development and engineering design.  For example, combustion and heat transfer in a direct-fired process heater can be simulated using a detailed CFD model including all the relevant length-scales ranging from burner details to the radiant-box size.  CFD results from such a model can help make data-driven decisions on the heater design and operating conditions for better process performance, improved energy efficiency and increased operating sustainability. CFD can also be used to quantify the process performance and equipment reliability in multiphase flow systems. For instance, it can be used to predict catalyst flow distribution in refining processes and help improve equipment design. As an example, uniform distribution of catalyst is a crucial aspect of a gas-solids process unit and CFD can be used effectively to quantify this important performance characteristic.  Another example is flow distribution in slow moving or fixed beds, where CFD can help optimize the flow distribution to meet the design target. This paper gives a brief overview of CFD and presents a few selected examples to demonstrate how CFD is routinely used as a design tool to assist process and equipment design or assist in field operating troubleshooting efforts at Honeywell’s UOP.