(123a) The Divide between Academia and Industry in Modeling Gas-Solids Reacting Flows | AIChE

(123a) The Divide between Academia and Industry in Modeling Gas-Solids Reacting Flows


Developing new and efficient commercial scale multiphase reactors is extremely difficult as one needs to consider the complex interactions over a wide range of both temporal and spatial scales encountered in these systems (from molecules to macroscale). Therefore, it is important to codify and automate the knowledge collectively acquired so far, reserving human resources for the creative solutions that build upon codifying past learnings. Computational science (algorithms, theory and modeling, computer science, etc.) combined with exponential growth in computing hardware has great potential to provide us valuable tools for improving the effectiveness of existing plants but also design new reactors. Industry is in desperate need of fast simulation tools that are comparable to the accuracy of the single-phase reacting flows to advance the adoption of multiphase flow reactors and primarily to reduce the risk of scale-up. On the other hand, academia and national laboratories are focused on improving numerical methods, submodels or certain physics to push the state-of-the-art and predictability of the models. However, there is tremendous need for rapid integration of various capabilities that exploit latest computer hardware improvements, robust model reduction techniques, etc. that would improve the computational tools available to the industry to deliver the next generation of efficient and cost-effective reactors. These developments typically fall into the valley of death where industry and software vendors feel these efforts are far-fetched while the academic world considers it incremental. One way to address this divide is to develop mechanistic upscaling framework to coarse-grain information from more detailed modeling approaches to fast models accessible to the industry with relatively minimal information loss.

I will present such an approach using a gas-phase fluidized bed polymerization reactor as an example. First, I will provide an overview of the various models currently used at the different scales in gas-solids reacting flows. The coupling across the scales will be introduced through few different approaches:

  1. Discrete-Continuum Coupling using Discrete Element Method for particles
  2. Upscaling data from Discrete Element Modeling results to continuum based Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)
  3. Upscaling information from CFD to simplified reactor network models

In conclusion, the presentation will elucidate the approaches and opportunities in bridging the gap between academic advances and industry needs to model and advance our understanding of gas-solids reacting flow reactors.