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Description of Apparatus
The primary piece of equipment used in this experiment is a
packed bed column standing perpendicular to the floor and made of
clear Plexiglas.

The packed portion of the column has an inner

diameter of 7.642 cm (Dimenstein, 1984) and a length of 152 cm

(Dimmenstein, 1984). The column packing consists of glass spheres
0.3 cm. Water is fed to the column by a closed-loop cycle. The water
enters the top of the column, passes through the packed bed, and
then is collected in a water storage tank. The water collected in the
storage tank is pumped through rotometers and then back to the top
of the column. The small rotometer is capable of measuring 0.00 to
0.25 gallons per minute (GPM), while the large rotometer is used for
larger desired water flow rates ranging from 0.0 to 3.0 GPM.


flow through each rotometer is controlled by a manual valve. A fresh

water supply is available when there is no water in the storage tank.
The air is supplied to the system from a compressor. The compressed
air is fed to a water separator and air filter before flowing through
either flow air rotometers. The small air rotometer measures air flows
from 0.0 to 3.2 standard cubic feet per minute (SCFPM). The large
air rotometer measure flow rates in the range of 0 to 250 SCFPM.
The compressed air enters at the top of the column and flows cocurrently with the water.
Three pressure transducers are mounted on the column.


top pressure transducer is mounted above the packed portion of the

column to transmit a signal indicating the entering pressure of

A 5.0-inch axial distance separates the middle and bottom


These pressure transducers are used to obtain a

pressure drop gradient in the packed bed column. The transducers

feed a signal to a nearby desktop computer. The computer receives

and analyzes the signals using a Basic program. The Basic program
outputs the three pressure readings in psig to a PRN file.


pressure signals are typically received at a rate of 50 per second over

a 2 second period once the column reached a steady flow pattern.
Experimental Procedure
Gauge pressure data from three pressure transducers mounted
along the axis of the column was obtained by use of a computerized
data acquisition program.

Diagnostic Run
The column is stored under the atmospheric pressure of air, and

is void of water. First the data acquisition computer is turned on and

a diagnostic run is made. No gas or liquid is flowing to the column.
The diagnostic run tests the pressure transducers to see if the
transducers are reading there correct zero values. The diagnostic run
is also used to set the data acquisition parameters.
The user to selects the number of data points taken per second
and the length of time the data is going to be collected over. Values of
50 points per second, and 5 sec are typically adequate in trickling
flow while 500 points per second is adequate for pulsing flow. The
acquisition program displays the pressure data in a graphical form as
the data is acquired.

Pump and Compressor Activation

The column is coupled to a centrifugal water pump that feeds

the top of the column with water. An air compressor is also coupled to
the column and feeds the top of the column with pressurized air.
Circuit breakers control the power to the compressor and water
pump, and are located on the wall by the computer station. The flow

of air and water to the column are controlled by two sets of control
The control valves are opened, to avoid any pressure build up in
the pipes, and then the water pump and the compressor are turned
on, allowing air and water to flow into the column.

Experimental Measurements
By varying the gas and liquid flow rates to the column a full

range of operating conditions can be explored.

Both trickling and

pulsing flow patterns are explored during our experiment. The gas
flow rate and the liquid flow rate were simultaneously adjusted to
observe trickle and pulse flow.
The liquid and gas rate are set as desired, then the flow pattern
in the column is allowed to stabilize. The stability of the column is
determined through the data acquisition program. The program plots
the transducer pressure readings as a function of time. Stability for
trickling flow is achieved when the pressure is a constant value with

Stability for pulsing flow occurs when the pulses occur with

some periodic behavior. When stability is achieved the past 5 seconds

of data acquired are saved as a (*.prn) file on a floppy disk.
4. Column Shut Down
At the end of each experimental session, the flow of water to the
column is cut and the gas valve is opened. This forces all of the waer
in the bed packing to exit the column, so that it is dry for the next
laboratory session. The computer program is deactivated and the
computer is turned off. When the column is dry the air compressor is
turned off.
back flow.

The control valves are then closed completely to avoid



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