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Guidelines on numerical modeling of

cyclones and hydrocyclones

Joo Aguirre, M.Sc.

(aguirre@esss.com.br)

Ricardo Damian, M.Sc.

(ricardo@esss.com.br)

Discussions
Cyclone / Hydrocyclone flows;
Geometry and mesh generation;
Simulation time behavior;
Physical modeling:
Turbulence modeling;
Multiphase modeling.

Boundary conditions and initialization;


Numerical issues;
Monitoring and post-processing.

Guidelines on numerical modeling of cyclones and hydrocyclones

Cyclone / Hydrocyclone flows


Strong swirl component;
r
r
ac >> g
Phases separation due to density difference;

overflow
feed

Or classification due to particle size.

Formation of a vortex core:


Low pressure region;
Formation of a gas-core (hydrocyclones);

inner
upward
and outer
downward
spirals

heavier
particles
(droplets)
dragged
outwards

If discharge surfaces are opened


to gas regions.

Vortex-core precessing.
underflow

Intrinsically transient phenomena.

cyclone/hydrocyclone flow structure


from Cullivan et al. (2004) - modified

Guidelines on numerical modeling of cyclones and hydrocyclones

Cyclone / Hydrocyclone flows


Strong velocity gradients in the core region:
Very sharp for tangential velocity.

Anisotropic turbulence:

experimental
visualization of
the flow inside of
a hydrocyclone
detail of the
air-core and the
vortex core
precessing

Effect of the strong streamline curvature;


Challenge for turbulence models.

velocity

forced vortex

free vortex
conceptual hydrocyclone
tangential velocity profile

radius

Guidelines on numerical modeling of cyclones and hydrocyclones

Geometry and mesh generation


Usually cyclones and hydrocyclones present simple geometries:
Cono-cylindrical geometries with tangential injection;
Different models may present special features.

conceptual
cyclone
geometry

conceptual
hydrocyclone
geometry

Guidelines on numerical modeling of cyclones and hydrocyclones

Geometry and mesh generation


Some issues about geometry design for CFD simulations:
Inlet and outlet piping extension:
Adequate boundary condition
modeling;
Inlet condition improved with
usage of developed boundary
profiles;
As usual it is a good practice to
extend boundary regions to reach
developed flow regions:
If possible extend overflow
and underflow regions until
no reverse flow occurs.
hydrocyclone inlet and
overflow extension

Guidelines on numerical modeling of cyclones and hydrocyclones

Geometry and mesh generation


Some issues about geometry design for CFD simulations:
Inlet piping tangential to body or displaced:
Actually a mesh issue (mainly to hexa meshes).

tangential inlet
piping case

displaced inlet
piping case

Guidelines on numerical modeling of cyclones and hydrocyclones

Geometry and mesh generation


Some issues about geometry design for CFD simulations:
Use of blends (fillets) on inlet edges:
Actually a mesh issue (mainly to tetra meshes).
tangential inlet
(no blends)

Guidelines on numerical modeling of cyclones and hydrocyclones

tangential inlet
(blended)

Geometry and mesh generation


Mesh generation guidelines:
Cyclone cases can be simulated both with tetra/prism or hexa meshes;
Hydrocyclone cases are much more mesh sensitive, it is strongly recommended
to use hexa meshes:
The use of hexa meshes also reduces the number of nodes
using the same grid size and, due to higher quality, helps
in stability and simulation speed.
Hexa meshes can be created using ANSYS Meshing Tools
or ANSYS ICEM CFD.

Meshes should have refinements near walls and near geometry transitions
(such as cylinder to cone transitions) and in in the vortex-core region:
Vortex core region usually well-defined using the overflow
diameter as a reference;
Verify the y+ values during simulation run!

Guidelines on numerical modeling of cyclones and hydrocyclones

Geometry and mesh generation


Mesh generation guidelines:

refinements near the walls (to


capture boundary-layer effects)

refinement in the vortex-core region (to


capture correct velocity peaks and gradients)

smooth transition between the refined


vortex-core mesh and the outer mesh

refinements near geometry


transitions (to stabilize the
solution and capture flow changes)

Guidelines on numerical modeling of cyclones and hydrocyclones

Geometry and mesh generation


Mesh generation guidelines:
Examples of mixed and tetra/prism meshes:
cyclone tetra/prism mesh
details on core refinement
and inlet blend mesh

tangential inlet
(blended)

Guidelines on numerical modeling of cyclones and hydrocyclones

Geometry and mesh generation


Mesh generation guidelines:
Meshing tips:
Using ANSYS ICEM CFD to generate tetra/prism meshes, delete all points
and curves that do not define important features and where you want to mesh
approximately the surfaces (e. g. tangential inlet) using the Repair Geometry Tool.
Similar to that, in ANSYS Meshing Tools, use the Virtual Topology feature to clean
and smooth the geometry;
Also in ANSYS ICEM CFD, when working on hexa
meshes, use the Smooth orthogonal tool to better
distribute hexa elements, after this ortho smooth
always perform some smooth by quality iterations.
In ANSYS Meshing Tools, cut a small square tube
in the hydro/cyclone axis to reproduce the o-grid
feature of ICEM CFD.

Guidelines on numerical modeling of cyclones and hydrocyclones

Simulation time behavior


Intrinsically transient phenomena:
Core precessing;

Maximum time step:

Flow feature (not just a turbulent feature);


Not absorbed by the turbulence modeling.

t max =

min (d overflow , d underflow )


10 vinlet

Complex turbulence.

Transient simulation!
Courant number:

Physical time scale for time step selection:


Montavon et al. (2000) - modified;

Courant = CFL =

Time step also limited by Courant number!


Decrease in mesh size reduces
the maximum time step.

u t
x

1 < Courant RMS < 10,


50 < Courant MAX < 100

Adaptive time step simulations must have a


large interval between updates.

Guidelines on numerical modeling of cyclones and hydrocyclones

Simulation time behavior


Transient simulation!
Time scale reference for total simulation time:
Characteristic flow time:
Useful to determinate continuous
phase flow development;

Flow characteristic time:

tcharacteristic =

Vcyclone / hydrocyclone
V&
inlet

Initial estimate for multiphase flows.

Flow development is case-dependent!


Some multiphase flows need a
longer simulation time to develop.
Development defined by
flow data monitors.

Total flow time (single-phase flow):

ttotal = 3 tcharacteristic
1tcharacteristic for flow development
+

2tcharacteristic for time averaging

Guidelines on numerical modeling of cyclones and hydrocyclones

Physical modeling
Turbulence modeling:
Single-phase flows:
Due to intrinsic flow characteristics common
turbulence models not apply to this case:
Unrealistic results achieved with usual
k- and k- models.
Prediction of exaggerated diffusion and
dissipation leading to a rigid body
rotation profile.

Models that can account for anisotropy or strong


streamline curvature must be applied:
Some two-equation models with additional terms
for high streamline curvature effects available but
still needing fine tuning;

conceptual hydrocyclone
tangential velocity profile solved using a two-equation
model (blue) and a
RSM model (red)

Guidelines on numerical modeling of cyclones and hydrocyclones

Physical modeling

CFX Fluid
Models panel

Turbulence modeling:
Definition of the turbulence model:

Based on what information the engineer needs.


The simpler turbulence model that gives
coherent results is the RSM model with
second order pressure-strain correlation
(SSG in CFX).
More detailed approaches like SAS
(Scale Adaptive Simulation), LES or
DES can be used but increasing
computational cost.

Fluent Viscous
Model panel

Guidelines on numerical modeling of cyclones and hydrocyclones

Physical modeling
Turbulence modeling:
Multiphase turbulence:
Same observations for the single-phase flow apply to
primary phase on multiphase flows:
Also in cases where the homogeneous turbulence is applied.

Choice of homogeneous/inhomogeneous turbulence


modeling should be based on case conditions:
For inhomogeneous turbulence, choose the appropriate
dispersed phase turbulence model;

Turbulence on phases interaction:


Also, for the phases interaction check the
turbulence dispersion modeling (in CFX)!

Guidelines on numerical modeling of cyclones and hydrocyclones

Physical modeling
Turbulence modeling:

CFX Fluid Models panel for


inhomogeneous turbulence
detail of the dispersed
phase turbulence models

Multiphase turbulence set-up:

Fluent Viscous Model


panel for multiphase flows
CFX Fluid Models panel for
homogeneous turbulence

Guidelines on numerical modeling of cyclones and hydrocyclones

Physical modeling

Secondary Phase
Volume Fraction

Multiphase modeling:

... 10-5

...

10-3

...

10-2

...

0.2

...

0.6

* : Possible coupling with Population Balance;


Attention to Non-Drag Forces;
Strong case dependency! Contact ESSS engineers for help.
Guidelines on numerical modeling of cyclones and hydrocyclones

Boundary conditions and initialization


Boundary conditions:
Basic rules to impose boundary conditions on cyclone or hydrocyclone simulations:
Whenever possible, include inlet, underflow and overflow piping:
As discussed in Geometry and mesh generation section.

Be careful with boundary conditions types:


A common combination is to prescribe mass flow rates (or flow rate) at the inlet and
one outlet (overflow or underflow) and pressure at the other outlet;
Setting all boundaries with prescribed pressure is very unstable, if pressure is all the
information you have you can use user functions (UDFs in Fluent and User FORTRAN
in CFX) to control flow rates to match the head loss data;
Be very careful to define the pressure values imposed to the outlet boundaries, due to
rotation the radial pressure gradient is very intense using prescribed values as
pressure averages can lead to inconsistent results;
Do not specify velocity direction (or velocity components) on outlet boundaries unless
you are sure that the flow is developed at the given position.

Guidelines on numerical modeling of cyclones and hydrocyclones

Boundary conditions and initialization


Boundary conditions:
overflow pressure contours pressure
difference on axis and near walls

overflow velocity vectors and contours


non-normal velocity at boundary

Guidelines on numerical modeling of cyclones and hydrocyclones

Boundary conditions and initialization


Boundary conditions:
Multiphase boundary modeling:
Secondary phase boundary conditions:
Pay attention to the definition of velocity and spatial distribution of the secondary phase
in the inlet region, prescribing correct slip velocities and inhomogeneous spatial
distribution (e.g. when there is a curve right behind the inlet section) lead to more
realistic results.

Observe transient boundary behaviors:


In many cases there are effects of variation (in time) of flow rates, gushes, variation of
secondary phase concentration, etc. These events have strong influence on the
equipment efficiency.

Guidelines on numerical modeling of cyclones and hydrocyclones

Boundary conditions and initialization


Initialization:
A suitable flow initialization can save a lot of computer time (reducing the time to
develop the velocity and pressure fields), mainly for the primary phase.
Use of initial conditions from simulations using coarser meshes and/or cheaper
turbulence models;
Interpolate results from previous studies;
Use of analytical solutions to velocity and pressure fields (approximations):
The Burgers vortex solution is an analytical solution of the Navier-Stokes equations
that provides a velocity field close to a cyclone or hydrocyclone field (for the tangential
component) based on two-parameters.

Burgers vortex solution

r
v = vr r + v + vz z

1
vr = r
2
r 2

v =
1 exp
2r
4
v z = z

Guidelines on numerical modeling of cyclones and hydrocyclones

Numerical issues

Simulation Control
panel on CFX

Numerical set-up:
Discretization/advection schemes:
Use second order schemes to moment
and volume fraction equations;
Use second-order turbulence schemes
verify consistency after first results;
Usually not necessary.

Convergence criteria and precision:

Solution Controls
panel on Fluent

On CFX decrease the convergence


criteria default value to assure volume
fraction equations convergence;
The run on double precision can improve
stability and results:
Mainly for hydrocyclone cases.

Guidelines on numerical modeling of cyclones and hydrocyclones

Numerical issues
Numerical set-up:
Attention to pressure discretization!

Advanced Options on
Solver Control Panel in
CFX detail of the
Trilinear interpolation
scheme selection for
pressure

On Fluent use the PRESTO!


scheme on single-phase simulations:
Pressure and velocity fields
solved in a staggered fashion.

On CFX force the trilinear scheme


for pressure element interpolation:

Solution Controls for single-phase flow in Fluent


detail of the Coupled solver and the PRESTO!
Scheme for pressure discretization

Pressure interpolation inside


the element using all element
nodes (more precision calculating
the pressure gradients).
Automatically set using multiphase
flows with buoyancy.

On Fluent use the Coupled solver for


single-phase analysis.

Guidelines on numerical modeling of cyclones and hydrocyclones

Monitoring and post-processing


Simulation monitoring:
Flow development must be assured by monitoring main flow variables!
Common monitor used in cyclones and hydrocyclones cases:
Pressures at boundaries (or head losses);
Head loss ration (inlet-overflow / inlet-underflow);
Disperse phase mass flow rates / balance:
In some cases these values will take much
longer than pressure and velocity fields to develop.

Verify transient averages:


Define time-averaging to variables of interest:
Velocity components, pressure, turbulence intensity, etc.

After flow development and correct averaging the averaged values should stabilize.

Guidelines on numerical modeling of cyclones and hydrocyclones

Monitoring and post-processing


Simulation monitoring:
Fluent monitors set-up:
Again, be aware of
area-averaged pressure
values!

Fluent Monitor window, simulation in


progress, development when monitors reach
a constant value (or time-averaged constant)

Fluent Surface Monitors and


Define Surface Monitor panels

Guidelines on numerical modeling of cyclones and hydrocyclones

Monitoring and post-processing


Simulation monitoring:
CFX monitors set-up.
CFX Transient Statistics panel
definition of variables for
time-averaging on the run

CFX Monitor Points definition


and User Point monitors tab in
Solver Manager

Guidelines on numerical modeling of cyclones and hydrocyclones

Monitoring and post-processing


Simulation post-processing:
Common cyclone/hydrocyclone post-processing:
Head losses;
Velocity profiles (axial, tangential, radial);
Separation efficiency;
Contour plots (pressure, volume fraction, velocity, etc.)
Turbulence post processing;

Guidelines on numerical modeling of cyclones and hydrocyclones

Monitoring and post-processing

overflow and
underflow
streamlines
inner (in red)
and outer (in
blue) spirals

Simulation post-processing:
Tangential velocity profile

5.00

tangential velocity [m s^-1]

3.00

1.00

-1.00

-3.00

-5.00
-0.020

CFX
experiment 1
experiment 2
-0.015

-0.010

-0.005

0.000

0.005

0.010

0.015

0.020

radius [m]

tangential
velocity profile
experimental
validation

Guidelines on numerical modeling of cyclones and hydrocyclones

Monitoring and post-processing


Simulation post-processing:
efficiency by particle size
experimental validation
(from Fluent News)

gas volume
fraction in a
hydrocyclone
simulation
with gas-core

particle
streamlines
colored by
residence time

Guidelines on numerical modeling of cyclones and hydrocyclones

Monitoring and post-processing


Simulation post-processing:

turbulent structures
colored by vorticity

turbulent structures
colored by vorticity
turbulent structures
colored by Q-criteria

Guidelines on numerical modeling of cyclones and hydrocyclones