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Residence Time Distribution Analysis of a Taylor


Couette Contactor by Computational Fluid
Dynamics using OpenFoam
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Available from: Shekhar Kumar


Retrieved on: 15 September 2015

CHEMCON-2013, Mumbai, 27-30 Dec 2013,

Residence Time Distribution Analysis of a Taylor


Couette Contactor by Computational Fluid
Dynamics using OpenFoam
Abhishek Singh, M. Balamurugan, Shekhar Kumar*, U. Kamachi Mudali, R. Natarajan
Corresponding author. Email: shekhar@igcar.gov.in
1

Reprocessing Group, IGCAR Kalpakkam, 603102 India.


2

E-mail addresses: shekhar@igcar.gov.in

Abstract: Taylor Couette flow is the phenomenon of fluid flow between the annular gap of two coaxial cylinders, one or both
rotating along their common axis, which results into the formation of Taylor vortices above a critical Taylor number. When a
small amount of axial flow is introduced to the Taylor couette flow, it tries to carry Taylor vortices along its direction which
results into radial mixing due to the toroidal motion of fluid elements. This type of flow can be considered as similar to the
ideal plug flow reactor according to earlier studies. Authors have experimentally characterized the non-ideal flow in a Taylorcouette extractor column by pulse response analysis. In this paper, details of experimental work and unique computational fluid
dynamics results related to the above mentioned work are discussed.
Keywords: Taylor couette phenomenon, residence time distribution, solvent extraction, computational fluid dynamics

viscous forces resulting into centrifugal instabilities this


phenomenon is known as taylor couette flow. Earlier
Couette [1] and Mallock [2] had carried out several
experiments on this centrifugal instability phenomenon
and they noted instabilities at certain rotational speeds.
Later on Taylor used the linear theory of instability to give
a solution for these centrifugal instabilities. He gave a
dimensionless number known as the Taylor number (Ta)
which is the ratio of the centrifugal force and viscous
force and can be expressed mathematically as :

1. Introduction:
Taylor Couette Contactor (TCC) is a single compact unit
which operates on the action of centrifugal force. The
design of the TCC is based on Taylor-Couette principle
where the inner cylinder rotates and the outer cylinder
remains stationary. In the annular region between these
two co-axial cylinders fluid is filled which forms taylor
vortices when the inner cylinder is rotated above the
critical taylor number.
2 Taylor-Couette flow and flow instability:
Taylor Couette flow is the phenomenon of fluid flow
between the annular gap of two coaxial cylinders, one or
both rotating along their common axis, which results into
the formation of Taylor vortices above a critical Taylor
number. At relatively low inner cylinder speeds, the flow
in the annular region is dominated by the viscous forces
and a tangential flow is obtained. As we increase the inner
cylinder speed the centrifugal forces begin to dominate the

(1)

Later on Chandrashekhar [3] found the critical taylor


number (Tacr) which depicted the transition from the
Couette flow (CF) to Taylor vortex flow (TVF). He also
showed that with the introduction of the axial flow in the
annular region along with the taylor-couette flow there is a
1

CHEMCON-2013, Mumbai, 27-30 Dec 2013,


delay in the onset of centrifugal instabilities which can be
represented by the Eqn.(2) where the critical taylor
number is the function of the axial reynold number shown
in Eqn.(3)

constant flow rate till a steady state was achieved. It was


checked that the pH measured at the outlet should match
the pH of the testing fluid. Then the first series of
experiments were conducted for 0 rpm inner cylinder
rotation rate and the axial flow rate was varied from 10 and
20 ml/min respectively. Once the flow became stable and
the value in the pH meter becomes steady, 2ml of 4N
HNO3 pulse was injected from the inlet and a stop watch
was started. The readings in the pH meter were noted down
at an interval of 30 sec. The experiment was stopped when
the pH meter reading becomes steady again and reaches
approximately the initial pH of the testing fluid. Keeping
all the parameters same a set of experiments was conducted
for 100, 200, 400, 600, 800 rpm and the pH readings were
noted down for the 10 and 20 ml/min inlet flow rates
respectively.
The resultant data was converted to
concentration scale and then the numerical analysis for
RTD was performed.

(2)
(3)

3. Experimental
3.1 Equipment
The experimental setup consisted of a Taylor couette
contactor and one feed pump along with the product and
feed tanks. The mixing section consists of a vertical coaxial cylindrical annulus with inner rotating cylinder (OD
22 mm) and an outer fixed cylinder (ID 25 mm), the
annular gap width thus being 1.5 mm. The total height of
the working annular space i.e. the mixing section is 250
mm yielding an aspect ratio (L/d) of 83.34 and a working
volume of 27.69 cm3. The top and bottom settling sections
are made up of glass of 200 mm length each with a
combination of a frustum(50 mm height , and inner
diameters of 88mm and 22mm respectively) and a
cylinder (height 150 mm and inner diameter 88 mm).Each
settling zone has two openings which are 90 mm apart and
diametrically opposite. The inner rotating cylinder is made
up of stainless steel and is pivoted at its base and the
arrangement is made to reduce vibrations and any
introduction of eccentricity is completely prohibited. The
test fluid is pumped inside the top opening of the
equipment a precision metering pumps (ISMATEC MFP
Process drives (ISM-909) + FMI Q series Pumpheads).
The continuous phase from the feed tank was fed to the
top inlet through soft-tubes. The settler was provided with
an overflow tube and a drain tube for continuous operation
of the Taylor coquette equipment. The continuous phase
outlet was connected to a laboratory pH meter (Metrohm
model 827 pH meter) for the continuous monitoring of the
pH. The view of the experimental setup in operation is
shown in Fig.1.

1.

Water tank

4. Regulator

7. pH meter

10. Tracer
injector

2. Peristaltic
pump

5. Electric
motor

8.Constant
head

11. Bottom
section filled
with CCl4

3. Pump
Controller

6. TCC

9. Outlet tank

Figure 1 : Schematic of the setup for the residence time distribution analysis of
the Taylor Couette Contactor

3.3 Data analysis


Inorder to characterize flow, it is necessary to know the
residence-time distribution, earliness of mixing, and state
of aggregation of the fluid [1]. If the latter two factors can
be ignored, the mean residence time can be determined as
follows:-

3.2 Experimental procedure


Demineralised water was used as a testing fluid and a
standard 4 N nitric acid as the tracer respectively. Initially
the bottom settling zone was filled with CCl4 so that there
was no introduction of the testing fluid in that part. Then
the mixing zone was filled with the testing fluid at a

(Mean residence time of the Cpulse):


(4)
(Variance of the curve):
2

CHEMCON-2013, Mumbai, 27-30 Dec 2013,


(13)
(5)
This can be further written as the following momentum
equation

(To find the Ecurve):

(14)

(6)
Standard k- Model

Total number of tanks in series can be calculated by the


following relation:

In the present work, the standard k- model has been


adopted to carry out the steady three dimensional CFD
simulations in the annular and bottom region of the TCC (
Taylor couette contactor) The conservation equation for
the turbulent kinetic energy (k) and dissipation () can be
expressed as (Launder and Spalding (1974)) ,

(7)

4. Computational fluid dynamics methodology


Numerical simulations for the above Residence time
distribution analysis has been done using the OpenFoam
(version 2.0.1) at various rotational speeds and flow rates.

k equation

4.1 (a) Model Formulation


(19)
For the CFD analysis a 3D geometry has been prepared
using the blockMesh functionality in the OpenFoam
(version 2.0.1) .In the present case simpleFoam solver was
used. The following continuity and momentum equations
were solved using the above solver:

equation
(20)

Continuity equation:
(8)
Momentum equation:
The turbulent eddy viscosity, t can be computed from the
following correlation,

(9)

(21)
The velocity ui can be written as a sum of mean velocity
and fluctuating velocity:
For the k- model
(10)
(22)
Putting the above combination of mean and averaged
velocity in Eqs. (7) and (8) and Reynolds averaging we
get:

In the above Eqns. (14) and (15), C1, C2, C are turbulent
model constant, k, are the turbulent Prantl number.
The standard values selected for turbulent parameters such
as C, C1, C2, k, are 0.09, 1.44, 1.92, 1.0 and 1.3
respectively.

(11)
This can be written as the following continuity equation

4.1 (b) Model formulation for species transport

(12)

After the flow in the present geometry was converged the


simulation of passive tracer was done. A pulse of the
tracer was given at the inlet with unit mass fraction. After
3

CHEMCON-2013, Mumbai, 27-30 Dec 2013,


two iterations the mass fraction of the tracer was again set
to zero. The following transport equations were solved for
the above case:

(PCG) and preconditioned bi-conjugate gradient solver


(PBiCG) were used for pressure and velocity respectively.
After the flow gets fully developed in the given geometry
a pulse of tracer was injected. scalarTransportFoam solver
was used to calculate the concentration of the tracer at the
outlet keeping the simulation in unsteady state. During the
unsteady state simulation only the scalar concentration
changed with time.

(23)

In Eqn. (18), Tk is the local mass fraction of the tracer and


Deff is the effective diffusion coefficient:

5. Results and Discussion

(24)

The flow is carried from the upper mixing annular section


to the bottom section from where it goes to the outlet. In
this study we aim to investigate the flow behavior in the
annular zone as well as the bottom section. The residence
time distribution analysis of the mixing as well as the
bottom section has also been performed. All the
simulations are carried out using the OPENFOAM vs
2.0.1 and ParaView vs 3.10.1. The results are shown in the
table(1) and table(2) below:

Where Dt is the eddy diffusion coefficient and Dm is the


molecular diffusion coefficient. Dt and Dm can be
estimated by the equations given below:
(25)
(26)
4.2 Numerical Framework

Sr
no

The geometry of the annular and the bottom region of the


Taylor Couette Contactor (TCC) is shown in Figure 3.
The model geometry is meshed using unstructured
tetrahedral grids. The minimum and maximum grid
volume sizes are 1.405174e-002 and 4.950891e-002 cubic
meter respectively. The unstructured grid is chosen for
discretization .

1
2
3
4
5
6

RPM

0
100
200
400
600
800

Mean
residence time

Variance

Total number of
tanks in series

Exp
(min)

CFD
(min)

Exp
(min2)

CFD
(min2)

Exp

CFD

25.7
36.8
30.3
32.5
32.5
29.6

29.20
36.33
29.60
31.96
32.22
30.53

192.9
403.9
359.2
377.4
388.0
327.3

280.2
399.1
357.8
389.7
411.2
430.6

3.44
3.35
2.57
2.80
2.71
2.68

3.05
3.31
2.45
2.62
2.52
2.16

Table 1 : Experimental results at 10 ml per min inlet flow rate

4.3 Boundary Conditions

Sr
no

The computational domain is confined to the annular


mixing section and the conical bottom region till the
outlet. Velocity inlet condition is specified for the fluid
inlet. Inner cylinder is described as the rotating wall. No
slip boundary condition was imposed for all the walls.
Pressure outlet condition was provided at the fluid outlet.
The ambient pressure has been considered to be
atmospheric pressure.

RPM

1
2
3
4
5

0
100
200
400
600

800

Mean residence
time
Exp
CFD
(min)
(min)
13.4
14.29
16.0
16.98
13.0
13.96
15.7
16.40
14.1
16.88
13.3

14.37

Variance
Exp
(min2)
61.62
72.95
63.01
83.62
58.41

CFD
(min2)
111.8
113.7
108.0
129.7
154.5

63.66

115.4

Total number of
tanks in series
Exp
CFD
2.93
3.53
2.71
2.95
3.44

1.83
2.54
1.80
2.1
3.43

2.77

1.90

Table 2 : Experimental results at 20 ml per min inlet flow rate

4.4 Solution Strategies

5 Validation of CFD Model

We have used simpleFoam solver for the present problem.


In this problem we encounter swirl flow in the mixing
section and the bottom region. Hence PISO ((Pressure
Implicit with Splitting of Operators) scheme was used for
pressure velocity coupling and solving momentum
equation by segregated implicit method. The discretization
of the momentum equation was done by Gauss upwind
scheme. The preconditioned conjugate gradient solver

The model has been validated by comparing the residence


time distributions and the exit age distribution curves. It is
observed that our CFD predictions agree fairly well with
the experimental data generated during the residence time
6 Conclusion
(1) An experimental residence time distribution technique
has been developed which is capable of analyzing pulse
4

CHEMCON-2013, Mumbai, 27-30 Dec 2013,


response in an apparatus such as Taylor Couette Contactor
(TCC). RTD for the annular as well as the bottom section
of TCC has been studied experimentally as well as
computationally.

[5]

(2) The CFD results show more dispersion as compared to


the experimental results. Hence it could be assumed that
bypassing and dead zones are present in the studied
region.

[6]

(3) The results obtained experimentally as well as


computationally are in agreement with each other.

[7]

7. Nomenclature
[8]

CA = Exit concentration to an impulse input


L = Length of the Couette flow device (cm)
N = Total number of tanks in series
= Axial Reynolds number,
di = Inner cylinders outer diameter (cm)
do = Outer cylinders inner diameter (cm)
= Mean residence time (cm)
Ta = Taylor number
Tac = Critical Taylor number
Greek symbols
= Kinematic viscosity (m2/s)
t = Turbulent kinematic viscosity (m2/s)
= Radius ratio, do/di
= Dynamic viscosity
= Density
i = Inner cylinder rotational speed
v = Viscous energy dissipation rate
t = Turbulent energy dissipation rate
, = Turbulent parameters
= Reynold stress
Subscripts
i, j, k = Indices in co-ordinate direction
r = Radial direction
z = Axial direction
= Azimuthal direction

8 Literature cited
[1]

[2]

[3]

[4]

M. Couette, Etudes sur le frottement des liquides,


Annales de Chimie et de Physique 6, vol. 21, pp. 433
510, 1890.
A. Mallock, Experiments on uid viscosity,
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A, vol.
187, pp. 4156, 1896.
S. Chandrasekhar, The stability of spiral ow between
rotating cylinders, Proceedings of the Royal Society A,
vol. 265, no. 1321, pp. 188197, 1962.
G. I. Taylor, Stability of a viscous liquid contained
between two rotating cylinders, Philosophical
5

Transactions of the Royal Society A, vol. 223, no. 605


615, pp. 289343, 1923.
K. E. Wardle, Open-source CFD simulations of liquid
liquid ow in the annular centrifugal contactor,
Separation Science and Technology, vol. 46, no. 15, pp.
24092417, 2011
G. Baier and M. D. Graham, Two-uid Taylor-Couette
ow : experiments and linear theory for immiscible
liquids between corotating cylinders, Physics of Fluids,
vol. 10, no. 12, pp. 30453055, 1998.
G. Baier, Liquid-liquid extraction based on a new ow
pattern: two-uid Taylor-Couette ow [Ph.D. thesis],
University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wis, USA,
2000.
S. S. Deshmukh, M. J. Sathe, and J. B. Joshi, Residence
time distribution and ow patterns in the single-phase
annular region of annular centrifugal extractor,
Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, vol. 48,
no. 1, pp. 3746, 2009.