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Dynamic mixing

in agitated industrial
pulp chests
By F. Ein-Mozaffari, C.P.J. Bennington and G.A. Dumont
Pulp & Paper Canada T 118 105:5 (2004) 41
Ein-Mozaffari et al. [3] studied the dynamics of
pulp agitation using a 1/11th scale-model chest.
The chest was rectangular with dimensions:
width, W = 40 cm, height, Z = 70 cm, and length,
L = 70 cm. A 3-hp variable speed motor was used
to derive a scaled version of Maxflo impeller
(Chemineer Inc.). They found that the power
and impeller momentum flux requirements for
complete motion inside the chest were under-
predicted when using the method detailed by
Yackel. The likely reason for this was that existing
design methods strive to create smooth surface
motion over the entire chest surface [4].
However, Ein-Mozaffari et al. showed that even
when completely smooth surface motion was
attained, considerable stagnant zones existed in
the chest below the suspension surface (mainly at
the corners of the vessel). Since Ein-Mozaffari et
al. defined complete motion as that occurring
when no stagnant zones existed in the chest,
additional power greater than specified by Yackel
was required. However, if the purpose of the stock
chest was just to keep the suspension moving to
prevent stock dewatering, a design for complete
smooth surface motion could still permit forma-
tion of stagnant zones within the chest. To elimi-
nate these undesirable zones, the installed power
must be at least equal to the power required for
the onset of complete motion, which in the scale-
model chest was three times greater than that
specified using the procedure detailed by Yackel.
Ideal mixing is frequently used to describe
mixing where the input (feed) stream is instanta-
neously dispersed throughout the vessel volume,
with the composition of the outlet stream equal
to the uniform composition throughout the tank
[5]. The dynamic behaviour of such a perfectly
mixed chest is represented by a first order trans-
fer function [6]. The assumption of ideal mixing
has often been used to study the impact of pulp
mixing vessels in pulping processes. Walker and
Cholette [7] calculated the damping factors (the
ratio of the output to input wave amplitudes) for
an ideally mixed stock chest having a single feed
for various input disturbances, including: contin-
uous sinusoidal, continuous square wave, and sin-
gle square wave inputs. They concluded that the
degree of upset attenuation is dependent on the
ULP STOCK chests are used for a num-
ber of purposes in pulp and paper
manufacture. They act as storage ves-
sels, allowing continuous operation of
processes in the event of a breakdown
or upset elsewhere in the system. Fully agitated
vessels keep pulp moving and prevent the sus-
pension from dewatering. They can also act as
blend chests to mix different pulp stocks and/or
a pulp suspension with process chemicals. Finally,
they function as low-pass filters to reduce high-
frequency variability in mixture composition,
fibre mass concentration, freeness and other pulp
quality factors ahead of many pulping and paper-
making unit operations. In this capacity, stock
chests compliment the action of control loops
that are only able to attenuate low-frequency vari-
ability below their cut-off frequency [1].
Stock chests are often designed based on pro-
prietary information that has been refined with
experience. One common design method has
been summarized by Yackel [2], and is based on
matching the momentum flux generated by an
impeller with that needed to fully agitate the ves-
sel. The impeller momentum number (Mo) is giv-
en by
Mo = Q
v (1)
where Q
is the impeller pumping rate and v
is the fluid velocity leaving the impeller. Since Q
is proportional to ND
and v is proportional
to ND, the momentum number can be written as
Mo = CN
where C is a constant that depends on impeller
geometry and type.
The momentum number required to fully agi-
tate a pulp stock chest depends on many factors,
many of which have been correlated by Yackel.
These include the chest volume and dimensions,
the fibre type, the stock consistency, the temper-
ature and pH. By determining the required
momentum flux for a particular installation using
the graphical correlations, a suitable impeller
may be selected provided the impeller momen-
tum number is known.
Vancouver, BC
Abstract: Dynamic tests were made on several industrial agitated pulp chests to quantify the
extent of non-ideal flow (bypassing, recirculation, and dead zones) and the disturbance attenua-
tion achieved. Most chests showed a significant reduction in disturbance attenuation compared
with an ideally mixed chest. The importance of correctly locating the pulp feed and exit locations
was confirmed. The power calculated for agitation of pulp chests, based on existing design crite-
ria, did not completely eliminate non-ideal flow in the vessel. Additional power is needed to
approach an ideal dynamic response.
disturbance frequency and chest resi-
dence time, but made no comparison
between their numerical results and
experimental data. Reynolds et al. [8]
studied the degree of upset attenuation
for a stock chest as a function of chest res-
idence time and upset frequency. They
suggested that additional smoothing of
variability over that attained by agitation
alone could be achieved by either exter-
nally recirculating part of the output
stream, or by splitting the feed to the top
and bottom of the chest. Brown [9] stud-
ied the dynamic behaviour of a paper mill
stock chest, again assuming ideal mixing,
and describing the dynamic response with
a first order transfer function. He found
that for a perfectly mixed chest the fre-
quency at which attenuation begins is
fixed by the residence time of the chest.
The complex rheology of a pulp sus-
pension (which is non-Newtonian and dis-
plays a significant yield stress) can create
considerable deviations from ideal mixing.
The deviations can be attributed to a num-
ber of factors. These are bypassing (where
a portion of the feed can directly flow to
the exit without entering the mixing
zone), recirculation (where a portion of
the stock recirculates within the mixing
zone) and dead zones (where pulp is stag-
nant or flows significantly slower than the
bulk of the suspension). The dead zones
represent unused volume inside the chest.
Such zones can arise from the interaction
between the circulation patterns generat-
ed by the impeller, the suspension flow
through the vessel and the chest geometry.
The flow within a dead zone need not be
completely stagnant - the lack of access to
the chest outlet is all that is required [10].
Dynamic tests made on a pilot-scale pulp
stock chest [3,11] show that the extent of
non-ideal flow can be significant.
Non-ideal flow reduces the degree of
upset attenuation produced by the chest.
Since some disturbances occur at frequen-
cies higher than the cut-off frequencies of
paper machine control loops, they are not
fully attenuated, and pass through to the
process. Consequently paper quality and
machine runnability are reduced. Since
ignoring non-ideal flow can lead to errors
in system design [12], it is necessary to
study the dynamic behaviour of stock mix-
ing under realistic mixing conditions.
Ein-Mozaffari et al. [13] developed a
dynamic model for an agitated pulp stock
chest that included a well-mixed zone,
with the possibility of suspension recircu-
lation within the mixing zone and short-
circuiting past the mixing zone. The con-
tinuous-time dynamic model is shown in
Fig. 1 and was constructed from basic prin-
ciples, where the system parameters have a
physical interpretation. f is the portion of
stock that bypasses the mixing zone. A lim-
ited amount of mixing can occur in the
bypass flow and is given by a first order
transfer function (G
). (1-f) is the fraction
of pulp that enters the mixing zone and
has a first order transfer function G
. A
portion of stock, R, exiting the mixing
zone can be recirculated within the mix-
ing zone.
are the time constants
for the bypassing and agitated zones, and
. T
and T
are the time
delays for the bypassing and agitated zone
respectively. Again typically T
< T
To estimate the parameters for this
model the system has to be excited. The
model parameters are then estimated
from the input-output data using a
numerical method presented by Kammer
et al. [14]. To calculate the fully mixed vol-
ume of the agitated zone, the effect of
recirculation is eliminated [11]. For R = 0,
the time constant for the agitated zone
) is given by
fully mixed

= (3)
(1 f )Q
where Q is the pulp flow rate through the
chest and
and f are estimated from
analysis of the input-output data. This
allows calculation of the fully mixed vol-
ume (V
fully mixed
) using Eqn. 3.
From the dynamic tests made on the
laboratory scale-model chest Ein-Mozaf-
fari et al. [11] found that the power calcu-
lated based on achieving smooth surface
motion, or even the power required for
onset of complete motion, did not com-
pletely eliminate poorly mixed zones or
bypassing in the chest. If the purpose of
42 105:5 (2004) T 119 Pulp & Paper Canada
FIG. 1. Continuous-time dynamic model of a stock chest.
FIG. 2. Plan view of latency removal chest F equipped with
four impellers and a midfeather baffle along the centre-line
of the vessel.
Chest Chest Dimensions Number Stock Consistency Nominal Installed
I.D. Shape (LWZ) of Type (%) Residence Power
(mmm) Impellers Time (min) (hp)
A Rectangular 1 FBK & 3.7 14 40
B Rectangular 1 FBK 3.4 12.9 35
C Rectangular 1 FBK 4 8.4 200
D Rectangular 2 FBK & 3.8 16 2150
E Rectangular 2 FBK 3.8 12.5 2150
F Rectangular 4 TMP 4.5 37 430
G-1 Oval 1 FBK 4 21.7 100
G-2 Oval 2 FBK 4 23.3 2150
TABLE I. Specifications of industrial chests.
the chest is to attenuate high-frequency
variability in fibre mass concentration
(i.e., to act as a low pass filter), additional
power (typically four times above that for
complete surface motion) is required to
create a better (more ideal) dynamic
response in the chest.
The objective of this work is to mea-
sure the dynamic response of several
industrial pulp chests and to determine to
what extent they approach ideal mixing.
The specifications of the eight industrial
stock chests studied are summarized in
Table I. For each chest, a step change in
incoming mass concentration (consistency)
was used to excite the system. Two of the
chests studied will be examined in detail to
show how the analysis was performed.
Figure 2 gives a plan view of mixing
chest F. It is equipped with four impellers
and is used for latency removal of a ther-
mo-mechanical pulp in a mill. Stock
enters the chest on one wall adjacent to a
mixer and moves through the chest to the
outlet. The midfeather wall along the cen-
tre-line of the vessel directs suspension
flow through the chest, and forces it to
pass through the mixing zones of two
additional mixers located on the wall
opposite the suspension feed.
To measure the dynamics of this chest
a bump test was conducted where the
fibre mass concentration of the entering
pulp was rapidly dropped from 4.26% to
4.09% at time t = 955s. The mass concen-
tration measured as a function of time for
both the entering and exiting pulp
streams is given in Fig. 3. This input-out-
put data was used to identify the extent of
non-ideal flow in the chest using the
dynamic model shown in Fig. 1 and the
numerical method developed by Kammer
et al. [14]. The grey line in Fig. 3 shows
the fit of this model.
Based on the dimensions of the laten-
cy chest and the operating conditions on
the day of the test, the theoretical resi-
dence time was 37 minutes. However,
analysis of the bump test shows a fully
mixed zone having a time constant
of approximately 10 minutes, Table II.
From this it can be concluded that only
(10/37) 100 = 27% of the chest volume
was involved in active mixing. While the
piping approach to the stock chest added
only 0.5% to the system volume (and was
ignored in the calculations) the measured
response curve shows a delay of 13.5 min-
utes (Fig. 3) indicating significant plug
flow in the vessel. Plug flow likely occurs
between the mixed zones created by the
impellers, promoted by the midfeather
wall inside the chest. We estimate that
37% of the chest volume was dead (mov-
ing very slowly and having little or no mix-
ing), 36% was involved in plug flow and
only 27% was involved in active mixing.
Therefore, pulp would spend 23.5
minutes in the chest, yet be subjected to
mechanical action (shear created by the
impellers) for only 10 minutes. The total
installed power (of the four impellers)
was 120 hp and the consumed power
would be less (typically 80% of the
installed power). This is less than the 160-
hp required for complete surface motion
as calculated using the method described
by Yackel. Hence, the existence of stag-
nant and poor-mixing zones within the
Pulp & Paper Canada T 120 105:5 (2004) 43
FIG. 5. Plan view of industrial machine chest G-1.
FIG. 6. Input and output response of machine chest G-1 to
a step-change in consistency. The prediction of the model
is also given.
FIG. 3. Input and output response of latency chest F to a
step change in consistency. The prediction of the model is
also given.
FIG. 4. Frequency response measured for industrial chest F
compared with an ideal response.
vessel can be expected. Frequency responses calculated for this
industrial chest and for a perfectly mixed chest having the same
volume and flow rate are plotted in Fig. 4. From this figure, it
can be seen that, due to the stagnant and poor-mixing zones, the
degree of variability reduction for the industrial chest is consid-
erably less than that of a perfectly mixed chest.
Fig. 5 shows the configuration of industrial machine chest G-1.
This chest is used ahead of a paper machine to attenuate high-fre-
quency variations in fibre concentration in the pulp feed. A single
100-hp motor located at one end of the vessel is used for agitation,
with the stock feed and exit locations close to the mixer.
The dynamic performance of stock chest G-1 was measured
by increasing the fibre mass concentration of pulp feed as shown
in Fig. 6. Here the measured input and output consistency are
recorded, along with the calculated model output following
analysis of the signal. Analysis showed that 29% of the pulp feed
was bypassed from input to output with only a limited amount
of mixing. This is not surprising considering the close proximi-
ty of the input and output flows. This confirms the finding of
Ein-Mozaffari et al. [3,11, 13] that one factor that significantly
affected bypassing was the pulp feed and exit locations. The feed
stream should be relocated to the other side of the chest as the
bypassing reduces the degree of upset attenuation inside the
chest. The dynamic test also showed that only 23% of the sus-
pension volume was fully mixed, with 77% not actively partici-
pating in mixing. Based on Yackels method, the required agita-
tion power for this chest should be 125 hp, which is greater than
the installed power (only 100-hp). In addition, the length to
width ratio for this chest is two. A general rule of thumb is that
this ratio should not exceed 1.5 [2] with two agitators suggested
if the chest aspect ratio exceeds 1.5 to 2.
In order to improve mixing in the vessel (G-1), the following
modifications were made by the mill personnel. Additional mix-
ing power was specified to ensure that ideal mixing was created
in the vessel. Due to the aspect ratio of the chest, an additional
mixer was specified, and two 150-hp mixers were located on the
side (long dimension) of the chest. The stock feed was relocat-
ed to the far side of the chest to force suspension flow through
the mixing zones without bypassing. The modified chest (G-2)
is shown in Fig. 7.
Following the modifications the chest dynamics were again
evaluated by decreasing the fibre mass concentration of pulp
feed from 4.2% to 3% as shown in Fig. 8. Analysis of the data
showed that bypassing was completely eliminated and that the
percentage of fully mixed volume had been increased from 23%
to 85%. The mill noticed improved paper machine operation
following the modification.
Frequency responses calculated for industrial chest G-1
(before modification), industrial chest G-2 (after modification),
44 105:5 (2004) T 121 Pulp & Paper Canada
and for a perfectly mixed chest having the same volume and
operating conditions are plotted in Fig. 9. The degree of upset
attenuation for chest G-1 is significantly worse than that of a per-
fectly mixed chest due to the existence of bypassing and dead
zones. However, the frequency response of the chest was con-
siderably improved following modifications. From Fig. 9, it can
be seen that the degree of variability reduction for chest G-2
(after modification) is close to that of a perfectly mixed chest.
Table II summarizes results of dynamic tests made on the
industrial stock chests tested. For four chests (A, B, F and G-1)
the installed power is less than that recommended by Yackel [2],
and the fully mixed volumes are less than 60% of total chest vol-
ume. However, for all chests, the fully mixed volume is less than
the theoretical value (100%) despite installations where power
input is three times greater than that calculated based on cre-
ation of complete surface motion. This confirms the dynamic
results made on a scale-model chest by Ein-Mozaffari et al.
[3,11,13] that showed that significant stagnation zones could
persist in the chest when complete surface motion was achieved.
The tests also showed that the power calculated based on the
onset of complete motion inside the chest did not completely
eliminate the dead volumes and bypassing. Additional power is
required to have a desired dynamic response from the chest.
The data summarized in Table II were all based on analyses
made using step changes in the input pulp consistency (mass
concentration). However, simple bump changes may not suffi-
ciently excite all the chest dynamics, and may result in some inac-
curacies in parameter estimation. In some cases, the input and
output consistency sensors were not calibrated precisely and/or
the measured signals were noisy. This required some data manip-
FIG. 7. Plan view of modified industrial machine chest (G-2).
FIG. 8. Input and output response of modified machine
chest (G-2) to a step change in consistency. The prediction
of the model is also given.
FIG. 9. The frequency responses measured for chests G-1
and G-2 compared with the ideal response.
ulation prior to analysis, which also might
affect the accuracy of parameter estima-
tion. Additional work is required to
improve the identification procedure used
in industrial cases. Ideally, it would be pref-
erential to use the normal variability in the
process to excite the chest and evaluate its
dynamics. Additional tests using scale-
model chests are also needed to further
examine the effect of chest shape and
dimensions, stock type, impeller type and
the number of impellers on variability
attenuation in agitated pulp stock chests.
Stock chests designed for complete sur-
face motion can still have dead zones with-
in them. To eliminate these poorly mixed
regions the installed power must be at
least equal to the power required for the
onset of complete motion, which is
greater than that specified by current
design practices. If the stock chest must
be ideally mixed to act as a low-pass filter
and attenuate high frequency variations
in stock properties (fibre mass concentra-
tion etc.) the required installed power can
be considerably greater than that recom-
mended by Yackel or required for com-
plete motion in the vessel.
The authors thank EnTech Controls Inc.,
Canfor Ltd, and Norske Canada Ltd.
(Powell River Division) for providing
industrial data.
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C impeller C factor, dimension-
D impeller diameter, m
f percentage of bypassing, frac-
transfer function for bypassing
transfer function for mixing
L chest length, m
Mo impeller momentum number,
N impeller rotational speed, s
Q pulp flow rate through the
chest, m
impeller pumping rate, m
t time, s
time delay for the bypassing
zone, s
time delay for the mixing
zone, s
v fluid velocity leaving the
impeller, m/s
V suspension volume inside the
chest, m
fully mixed
fully mixed volume, m
W chest width, m
Z suspension height, m
Greek Letters

time constant for the bypassing zone, s

time constant for the mixing zone, s
FBK fully bleached kraft
GWD groundwood stock
TMP thermomechanical pulp
Pulp & Paper Canada T 122 105:5 (2004) 45
Chest Total Calculated Nominal Measured Fully Bypassing
I.D. Installed Power Using Residence Time Mixed (%)
Power Yackels Time Constant Volume
(hp) Method (hp) (min) (min) (%)
A 40 60 14 5.8 37 10
B 35 50 12.9 7.5 58 0
C 200 200 8.4 5.7 68 0
D 300 120 16 10.1 63 0
E 300 100 12.5 10.9 87 0
F 120 160 37 10.0 27 0
G-1 100 125 21.7 7.0 23 29
G-2 300 125 23.3 19.7 85 0
TABLE II. Industrial Results.
Reference: EIN-MOZAFFARI, F., BENNINGTON, C.P.J., DUMONT, G.A. Dynamic mixing in
agitated industrial pulp chests. Pulp & Paper Canada 105(5): T118-122 (May, 2004). Paper pre-
sented at the 2003 Pacwest conference in Harrison Hot Springs, BC, on May 7-10, 2003. Not to be
reproduced without permission of PAPTAC. Manuscript received on April 21, 2003. Revised
manuscript approved for publication by the review panel on November 20, 2003.
Rsum: Des essais dynamiques ont t effectus avec plusieurs cuviers industriels de pte
agite afin de quantifier lampleur de lcoulement non idal (drivation, recirculation, et zones
mortes) et lattnuation de perturbation ralise. La plupart des cuviers montrent une rduction
importante de lattnuation de perturbation comparativement un cuvier idalement mlang.
Limportance de situer correctement les endroits pour alimentation et la sortie de la pte a t con-
firme. La puissance calcule pour lagitation des cuviers de pte, base sur les critres de con-
ception existants, na pas compltement limin lcoulement non idal dans le contenant. Une
puissance additionnelle est requise pour obtenir une rponse dynamique idale.