CFD with the Population Balance Model for Packed bed Airlift Reactor with External Loop

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Senior Simulation Engineer 3D Engineering Automation LLP, Pune. India

2 Chemical Engineering Department, Gharda Institute of Technology, Khed. India


An airlift reactor with the external loop (EXL ALFR) is a widely used modified version of a Bubble Column Reactor (BCR). An EXL ALFR can also be used for a three-phase system with the solid phase in a packed or fluidized form. An EXL ALFR provides design flexibility for conventional chemical reactions as well as biological reactions. Shear is an important factor for the reactors handling immobilized enzymes. In the current investigation, the effect of the design variables, like gas hold-up, the velocity of circulating liquid, and the distribution of bubble dimension, was compared for an EXL ALFR and an external loop airlift reactor with a packed bed (EXL ALFR-PB). Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) was employed for the liquid axial velocity in the downcomer of the reactors, and the computational fluid dynamic with the Population Balance Model (CFD-PBM) was employed. The minimum percentage of errors of 2.3% and 1.2% and the maximum of 4.2% and 3.4% were obtained for the experimental and predicted values of gas hold-up in the EXL ALFR and EXL ALFR-PB, respectively. For the velocity of the circulating liquid, the predicted and experimental values of their minimum percentage error were 1.1% and 0.5% and a maximum of 4.3% and 4.5% in EXL ALFR and EXL ALFR-PB, respectively. Also, the pressure drops calculated from the Ergun equation and CFD simulation had a 0 to 4% difference, indicating good agreement.


Main Subjects

Articles in Press, Accepted Manuscript
Available Online from 09 May 2024
  • Receive Date: 21 February 2024
  • Revise Date: 01 May 2024
  • Accept Date: 09 May 2024