- Coupling of Computational Fluid Dynamics and Population Balance Modelling for Liquid-Liquid Extraction (2010)
- The aim of this thesis was to link Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and Population Balance Modelling (PBM) to gain a combined model for the prediction of counter-current liquid-liquid extraction columns. Parts of the doctoral thesis project were done in close cooperation with the Fraunhofer ITWM. Their in-house CFD code Finite Pointset Method (FPM) was further developed for two-phase simulations and used for the CFD-PBM coupling. The coupling and all simulations were also carried out in the commercial CFD code Fluent in parallel. For the solution methods of the PBM there was a close cooperation with Prof. Attarakih from the Al-Balqa Applied University in Amman, Jordan, who developed a new adaptive method, the Sectional Quadrature Method of Moments (SQMOM). At the beginning of the project, there was a lack of two-phase liquid-liquid CFD simulations and their experimental validation in literature. Therefore, stand-alone CFD simulations without PBM were carried out both in FPM and Fluent to test the predictivity of CFD for stirred liquid-liquid extraction columns. The simulations were validated by Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) measurements. The two-phase PIV measurements were possible when using an iso-optical system, where the refractive indices of both liquid phases are identical. These investigations were done in segments of two Rotating Disc Contactors with 150mm and 450mm diameter to validate CFD at lab and at industrial scale. CFD results of the aqueous phase velocities, hold-up, droplet raising velocities and turbulent energy dissipation were compared to experimental data. The results show that CFD can predict most phenomena and there was an overall good agreement. In the next steps, different solution methods for the PBM, e.g. the SQMOM and the Quadrature Method of Moments (QMOM) were implemented, varied and tested in Fluent and FPM in a two-fluid model. In addition, different closures for coalescence and breakage were implemented to predict drop size distributions and Sauter mean diameters in the RDC DN150 column. These results show that a prediction of the droplet size distribution is possible, even when no adjustable parameters are used. A combined multi-fluid CFD-PBM model was developed by means of the SQMOM to overcome drawbacks of the two-fluid approach. Benefits of the multi-fluid approach could be shown, but the high computational load was also visible. Therefore, finally, the One Primary One Secondary Particle Method (OPOSPM), which is a very easy and efficient special case of the SQMOM, was introduced in CFD to simulate a full pilot plant column of the RDC DN150. The OPOSPM offers the possibility of a one equation model for the solution of the PBM in CFD. The predicted results for the mean droplet diameter and the dispersed phase hold up agree well with literature data. The results also show that the new CFD-PBM model is very efficient from computational point of view (two times less than the QMOM and five times less than the method of classes). The overall results give rise to the expectation that the coupled CFD-PBM model will lead to a better, faster and more cost-efficient layout of counter-current extraction columns in future.