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Lappeenranta University of Technology

From the SelectedWorks of Kari Myhnen


Modeling of dispersed phase by Lagrangian

approach in Fluent
Kari Myhnen

Available at:

Theory and simulation of dispersed-phase multiphase flows, Autumn 2007 Spring 2008

Modeling of Dispersed Phase

by Lagrangian Approach in Fluent

11 March 2008
Kari Myhnen
Presentation Outline

Modeling options and limitations in Fluent
Model theory
Solution strategies
Example calculation

The discrete phase model (DPM) in Fluent follows the Euler-Lagrange approach.
The fluid phase (gas or liquid, continuous phase) is treated as a continuum by
solving the time-averaged Navier-Stokes equations (Eulerian reference frame).
The dispersed phase is solved by tracking a number of particles through the
calculated flow field of continuous phase (Lagrangian reference frame).
The particles may be taken to represent solid particles in gas or liquid, liquid droplets
in gas or bubbles in liquid.
The dispersed phase can exchange momentum, mass and energy with the fluid
Discrete Phase Modeling Options in Fluent

Fluent provides the following discrete phase modeling options:

Calculation of the particle trajectories using a Lagrangian formulation that includes:
Discrete phase inertia
Hydrodynamic drag
Force of gravity
Other forces
pressure gradient, thermophoretic, rotating reference frame, brownian motion,
Saffman lift, and user defined forces
Steady state and transient flows.
Turbulent dispersion of particles.
Heating and cooling of the discrete phase.
Vaporization and boiling of liquid droplets.
Combusting particles, including volatile evolution and char combustion to simulate
coal combustion.
Optional two-way coupling of the continuous phase flow and the discrete phase.
Wall film modeling.
Spray model (droplet collision and breakup).
Limitations in Fluent

Particle-particle interactions are neglected.

Assumption: dispersed phase is sufficiently dilute.
Fluent manual provides a hand rule volume fraction usually less than 10-12%.
In general, this limit is far too high and does not fulfill the requirement of ratio
between the momentum response time and collisional time V/ C < 1
(see lecture notes, session 1).
The DPM model is however often used for dense dispersed flows as well. Care
should be taken when interpreting the results.
The steady state DPM model cannot be applied for continuous suspension of particles
The particle streams should have well-defined entrance and exit conditions.
For cases, in which the particles are suspended indefinetely in the continuum (e.g.
stirred tanks), the unsteady DPM modeling should be used instead.
If the dispersed phase model is used with Eulerian-Eulerian multiphase model the
coupling is defined with the primary phase only.
Several restrictions when using DPM model with other Fluent models
Limitations with parallel computing, streamwise periodic flows, combustion
models, sliding meshes, etc. See Fluent manual for details.
Regimes of Dispersed Two-Phase Flows

fluid particle fluid particle fluid particle particle

Sommerfeld (2000), based on Elghobashi (1994).

Momentum Equation

The force balance of particle in Lagrangian reference frame defines the

movement of the particles.

The momentum equation for i-direction:

Acceleration Drag Gravity Additional acceleration

due to other forces
(force/unit particle mass)
Drag Coefficient

For smooth spherical particles, Fluent uses equation by Morsi and Alexander (1972):

The constants a1, a2 and a3 are

determined for different ranges of Re:

For nonspherical particles, the equation by Haider and Levenspiel (1989) is used:

Shape factor
Surface area of sphere with same volume
Actual surface area
Comparison of Drag Coefficient Equations

The discrete phase and the continuous phase can be coupled in a number of ways.
In Fluent, the one-way or two-way coupling are possible to model.
One-way coupling
The continuous phase affects the discrete phase, but there is no reverse effect.
In Fluent, this is referred as uncoupled approach.
The discrete phase is solved once after the continuous phase flow has been
Two-way coupling
Both phases affect each other (exchange of momentum, mass and energy).
In Fluent, this is referred as coupled approach.
The continuous phase flow field is impacted by the discrete phase and the
calculations of the continuous phase and dispersed phase equations are
alternated until the solution is converged (hopefully).
Three-way coupling
Particle disturbance of the fluid locally affects
another particles motion, e.g. drafting of a trailing particle.
Four-way coupling
Particle collisions affect motion of individual particles.
Two-Way Coupling in Fluent

Momentum exchange

Drag Other interaction forces

Heat exchange
(without chemical reactions)
Sensible heat
and pyrolysis

Mass exchange
Particle Types and Laws in Fluent

Particle type Description Requirements Laws activated

Inert inert/heating or cooling Available for all models 1, 6

Droplet heating/evaporation/ Energy equation. 1, 2, 3, 6

boiling Minimum two chemical species or the
nonpremixed or partially premixed
combustion model.
Gas phase density by ideal law.
Combusting heating; evolution of Energy equation. 1, 4, 5, 6
volatiles/swelling; Minimum three chemical species or
heterogeneous surface the nonpremixed combustion model.
reaction Gas phase density by ideal law.
Multicomponent multicomponent Energy equation. 7
droplets/particles Min. two chemical species.
Use volume weighted mixing law to
define define particle mixture density.

Law 1: Particle temperature below vaporization temperature.

Law 2: Droplet vaporization.
Law 3: Droplet boiling.
Law 4: Devolatilization of combusting particle.
Law 5: Surface combustion.
Law 6: Volatile fraction of the particle consumed.
Law 7: Multicomponent particle definition
Example of Laws Applied for a Drying Droplet


Different energy and mass transfer equations are applied during different laws.

Tbp Law 6:
Law 3:
Boiling Volatile fraction
Law 2:
Tinjection Vaporization

Law 1:
Inert heating
before vaporization

Particle time
Mass and Energy Transfer of Drying Droplet

Law 1:Inert heating before vaporization

Law 6: Volatile fraction consumed

Heat transfer
Convection Radiation

Law 2: Vaporization

Vapor concentration at droplet surface / bulk gas

Mass transfer (molar flux of vapor)
Vapor pressure
Diffusion coefficient must be correctly
given by user defined

Heat transfer

Law 3: Boiling

Mass transfer without radiation

with radiation

Particle temperature is constant.

Energy required for vaporization appears as energy sink for gas phase
Particle-Wall Interaction

Different particle boundary conditions can be defined for walls, inlets and outlets:

volatile fraction
flashes to vapor

Escape Reflect Trap

For particle reflection, a restitution coefficient e is specified:

Normal component:

Tangential component:
Turbulent Dispersion of Particles

In Fluent, the dispersion of particles due to continuous phase turbulence can be modeled by
a stochastic tracking model (random walk model, eddy interaction model), or
a particle cloud model.

In the random walk model, the instantaneous continuous phase velocity is formed
of mean velocity and fluctuating component:

The fluctuating component varies randomly during a particle track.

Each particle injection is tracked repeatedly in order to generate a statistically
meaningful sampling.

The cloud model uses statistical methods to trace the turbulent dispersion of particles
about a mean trajectory
Mean trajectory is calculated from the ensemble average of the equations of motion
for the particles represented in the cloud.
Distribution of particles inside the cloud is represented by a Gaussian PDF.
Eddy Interaction Model
The stochastic tracking model in Fluent is based on eddy interaction model.
The discrete particle is assumed to interact with a succession of eddies.
Each eddy is characterized by
a Gaussian distributed random velocity fluctuation ui
a time scale (life time of eddy) e
a length scale (size of eddy) Le
During interaction, the fluctuating velocity is kept constant.
The interaction lasts until time exceeds the eddy lifetime or the eddy crossing time.
Literature presents several theories for determining the above values (see Graham and James (1996)).
The following presents the equations used in Fluent with k- turbulence model.

Fluid Lagrangian integral time Coefficient CL defined by user. Default value CL = 0.15.

Characteristic life time of eddy or alternatively random variation: e TL ln r

r = uniform random number [0...1]. Notice: ln r 1 e TL
k 3/2
Eddy length scale L e C L Notice: in literature, the length scale and life time are often linked: Le 2k
(based on Karema(2008)) In Fluent, this seems to be: Le 1 k e 3
e 2 2
Eddy crossing time Velocity response time 18

Fluctuating velocity = Gaussian distributed random number

(standard normal distribution)
For k- turbulence model:
Injection Setup

Particle injections can be defined by various methods:

Single: a particle stream is injected from a single point.

Group: particle streams are injected along a line.
Cone: streams are injected in a hollow conical pattern.
Solid cone.
Surface: particle streams are injected from a surface
(one stream from each cell face).
Atomizer: streams are injected by using various predefined
atomizer models.
File: injection locations and initial conditions are defined
in an external file.

For each injection, the following data are defined:

Particle type (inert, droplet, combusting, multicomponent)
Material (from database)
Initial conditions (particle size, velocity, etc.)
Destination species for reacting particles.
Evaporating material for combusting particles.
DPM Concentration

Fluent can report a DPM concentration in a coupled calculation. This is a total

concentration of the discrete phase in a continuous cell.

The mass flow of a particle track is determined based on particle mass and
mass flow at the particle injection and particle mass at current location.
The particle mass can change due to evaporation and other phase changes.

The discrete phase concentration inside a cell can be determined from the
residence time and mass flow.

Inside a cell, the particle stream is tracked with n particle time steps. The
residence time of one particle track is the sum of these time steps.

The total concentration is summed over all particle tracks.

The particle-particle interaction is neglected, thus when multiple

particle tracks cross the cell, the calculated concentration can
exceed the bulk density of solids or even solid density
(volume fraction of solids above 1). These results are not
physically sensible but they can show areas, where the particle tN
loading is high and the assumption of dilute flow is not valid.
Solution Strategies: Particle Tracking

The particle tracks are calculated in steps. The step length factor determines
approximately the number of steps per fluid cell. The default value is 5, but it should
preferably be higher: 10 20.
Increasing the step length factor (i.e. decreasing the step length) can improve stability of
heat and mass exchange (e.g. when calculating vaporization).
The max. number of steps limits the number of calculated time steps. This should be
large enough so that the particles can travel from entrance to exit.
If particles remain suspended in the model (tracking incomplete), then steady state
solution is questionable and transient tracking should be used instead. The transient
calculations in Fluent can be performed in a number of ways and combinations. This
presentation is focused on steady state calculation.
Solution Strategies: Two-Way Coupling

The solution of the continuous field without coupling is usually the starting point.
In most cases, the continuous flow does not have to be fully converged before
the coupling is started, because the particle tracks will have a large effect on the
continuous flow.
In a coupled calculation, additional source terms appear in discretized flow Calculate
equations of continuous phase. During particle tracking, each particle is seeing continuous
a fresh cell and makes no notice of particles already visited and marked the phase
cell with their source terms. This leads to overprediction of the source terms and
bad convergence behaviour with evaporation, combustion and radiation.
Use solution limits to limit the temperature in the domain. Calculate
Increasing the number of trajectories (especially with random walk model) will
smooth the particle source terms, which should help convergence.
The discrete phase source terms can be under-relaxed (e.g. 0.5). The flow
equations may need to be under-relaxed as well (energy and species).
The number of continuous phase calculations between the trajectory source
calculations can either be small (< 3) or high (>15). In the first choice, the terms
dispersed and continuous flow are closer coupled and the solution of both
should slowly convergence. In the second choice, the flows are decoupled and
the solution of continuous field remains better converged and the calculation is
more stable. In the latter case, the continuous phase may appear to be
converged, but the discrete phase is not.
If the dispersed phase is not dilute, then convergence is very difficult to achieve
in coupled calculations.
Modeling Example

The model geometry is shown below.

Hot air flows in a 200 mm diameter duct.
Wet limestone particles are injected from the top of the duct
(inlet d = 50 mm) at location 500 mm before a 90 bend.

Air inlet: 10 m/s, 270C, D= 0.2 m

Particle inlet: 0.1 kg/s, 0.1 m/s, dp=200 m, p=2700 kg/m3, H2O=30%

Average volume fraction of

solids in the duct:

dilute, two-way coupling

(but only as average)
Gas Properties
Solid Properties (Limestone)
Model Parameters
Solution of Continuous Phase
The continuous phase was first solved without the particles.
The convergence was good.
Uncoupled Mean Particle Tracks
The mean particle tracks were solved without two-way coupling.
The particle tracks are thus calculated only once after the continuous phase was solved.
The following images present particle tracks colored by mass, which indicates evaporation.

Initial mass 1.13E-8 kg

Fully evaporated 7.92E-9 kg
Uncoupled Turbulent Tracks
Random walk model with 50 stochastic tracks (total 2400) was used with default CL = 0.15.
Uncoupled solution, ie. one-way coupled calculation of dispersed phase.
Turbulence effects are fairly small, but can be noticed in the track images.

Initial mass 1.13E-8 kg

Fully evaporated 7.92E-9 kg
Solution of Coupled Calculation
Two-way coupled solution did not converge well.
Different step length factors, under-relaxation parameters and number of continuous phase
iterations were tried.
In the final calculations, the step length factor was 20 and the number of continuous phase
iterations between dispersed phase calculations was 20. The residuals were indicating poor
Coupled Particle Tracks
The particle tracks show that some of the particle streams circulate for long times before
reaching the outlet.
The solution of flow is much different from uncoupled solution.
The images do not show all particle tracks.

Initial mass 1.13E-8 kg

Fully evaporated 7.92E-9 kg
Effect on Continuous Flow Field
In the coupled calculation, the particle tracks affect the continuous phase flow.
In this case, the effect is considerable.
DPM Concentration
The DPM concentration shows the total concentration of dispersed phase.
Results indicate that in the bend, the dispersed phase is not dilute ( max = 0.094).
Reaching a converged solution in this case would be impossible.
The results should be utilized with caution.
Visualization of Results
Different process variables can be easily visualized: pressure, velocities, temperature,
concentration of species, turbulence variables, ...

The DPM model in Fluent can be used for studying one-way or two-way
coupled dilute dispersed flows, including effects of turbulence.
The basic model is easy to use and physics are clear and simple.
The limitations of the DPM model should be carefully considered when
analyzing the results.
The model neglects particle-particle interaction, thus it is valid for dilute
dispersed phase only.
The one-way coupling is valid for very dilute flow only. The two-way coupled
solution can be much different from the one-way coupled solution.
The average flow can be dilute, but it can contain regions, in which the
dispersed phase is dense. In these regions, the model results are false.
Moreover, the convergence is poor, if the dispersed phase is dense and the
momentum, mass and energy exchange to continuous phase is strong.
Despite the limitations, the DPM model can be (and is) successfully used for
modeling various applications.

Bakker, A. (2006). Lecture notes, Computational Fluid Dynamics, Dartmouth College.
Elghobashi, S. (1994). On predicting particle-laden turbulent flows, Appl. Sci. Res. 52, pp. 309
Fluent 6.3 Documentation (2008).
Fluent Training Material (2008).
Graham D. I. and James P.W. (1996). Turbulent dispersion of particles using eddy interaction
models. Int. J. Multiphase Flow, 22-1, pp 157-175.
Haider, A. and Levenspiel, O. (1989). Drag Coefficient and Terminal Velocity of Spherical and
Nonspherical Particles.Powder Technology, 58, pp. 6370.
Jalali, P. (2007). Lecture notes, Theory and simulation of dispersed-phase multiphase flows,
Lappeenranta University of Technology.
Karema, H. (2008). Discussions with Hannu Karema (Process Flow), January 2008.
Loth, E. (2008). Computational Fluid Dynamics of Bubbles, Drops and Particles (draft).
Morsi, S. and Alexander A. (1972), An investigation of particle trajectories in two-phase flow
systems, Journal of Fluid Mechanics 55, pp. 193208.
Sommerfeld, M. (2000). Theoretical and Experimental Modelling of Particulate Flows. Lecture
Series 2000-06, von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics.,326,2