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Chemical Engineering Science 56 (2001) 63376340

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On the frothspray transition at multiple orices
R. B. H. Tan

, R. Sundar
Department of Chemical & Environmental Engineering, National University of Singapore, 10, Kent Ridge Crescent,
Singapore 119260, Singapore
Abstract
A new theoretical model of the transition between the froth and spray regimes on a multi-orice plate is proposed. The model
considers the force balance on a lm of liquid adjacent to the gas core at the onset of jetting at a single orice, and estimates the
thickness of the lm by drawing the analogy with surface waves in gasliquid annular ow. The model predictions correlated very
well with a wide range of experimental data from published sources. ? 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Froth; Spray; Transition; Sieve plate; Multiple orices
1. Introduction
The sparging of gases into liquids through a
perforated plate or multi-orice sieve tray is a common
process in operations such as gasliquid and three-phase
reactors, distillation and absorption columns, and in
metallurgical rening. Two signicantly dierent ow
regimes can exist above a multi-orice tray, namely the
froth regime, in which gas bubbles are dispersed in a
continuous liquid phase, and the spray regime, which
is characterised by liquid droplets in a predominant gas
phase. Since the hydrodynamic behaviour and interphase
mass transfer in these regimes are markedly dierent,
it is clearly important to understand the transition point
between them.
Previous investigations by Muller and Prince (1972)
and Payne and Prince (1975, 1977) have established a
close correlation between the frothspray transition on a
multi-orice plate and the relatively simpler phenomenon
of transition from bubbling to jetting at a single sub-
merged orice. Consequently, Payne and Prince (1977)
proposed an empirical correlation for transition on a per-
forated plate:
H
!
D
h
=1.5(Fr), (1)
where Fr =U
h
,
0.5
q
(D
h
q(,
!
,
q
))
0.5
is the Froude
number.

Corresponding author. Tel.: +65-874-6360; fax: +65-779-1936.


E-mail address: chetanbh@nus.edu.sg (R. B. H. Tan).
This expression is similar to their correlation for bub-
ble to jet transition at a single orice (Payne & Prince,
1975), except for H
!
, the dispersion height, replacing the
clear liquid height, H. Comparison with experimental re-
sults have shown that for values of Fr less than about
6, the data deviate from the correlation represented by
Eq. (1). Transition data in this low Froude number range
was deemed to be a function of the Bond number, Bo =
(,
!
,
q
)qD
2
:.
Hofhuis and Zuiderweg (1979), in their investigation
of ow regimes on sieve plates, also proposed a cor-
relation based on a single Froude number. However,
their Froude number contained H
!
as characteristic lin-
ear dimension instead of D
h
as proposed by Payne and
Prince (1977). They argued that the bubblejetting tran-
sition at a single orice (which is comparable with the
spray-to-froth transition) primarily depended on a bal-
ance between the inertial forces of the gas ow through
the hole and the gravity forces on the liquid surround-
ing the orice. Therefore, a Froude number with the
liquid hold-up as the characteristic length (instead of
hole diameter) was deemed to be more physically
correct.
Wong and Kwan (1979) suggested an experimental
correlation for transition based on the concept of terminal
velocity, U
t
, for the largest drop suspended by the rising
gas ow:
H
!
D
h
=3.09

U
h
U
t

+ 2.06. (2)
0009-2509/01/$ - see front matter ? 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
PII: S 0009- 2509( 01)00247- 0
6338 R. B. H. Tan, R. Sundar / Chemical Engineering Science 56 (2001) 63376340
Fig. 1. Model development: force balance on an annular liquid ring
at the onset of transition.
This empirical expression is a modication of an earlier
one by Porter and Wong (1969).
Lockett (1981) developed a theoretical model for tran-
sition on sieve trays by considering a liquid bridge across
a spreading gas jet (the so-called jet penetration theory).
By assuming dierent jet spreading angles, the model
equations could be made to resemble the expressions
of earlier workers (Barber & Wijn, 1979; Hofhuis &
Zuiderweg, 1979; Payne & Prince, 1977). However, in
the light of regression analysis on extensive experimen-
tal data, he concludes that the ratio (HD
h
) at the froth
to spray transition is simply proportional to U
h
and inde-
pendent of D
h
. He proceeded to propose a reduced cor-
relation of the form
H
D
h
=2.78

,
q
,
!

0.5
U
h
. (3)
This equation is not dimensionless; the constant 2.78 has
the dimension s m
1
. Chen, Wong, and Kwan (1982)
derived an expression very similar to Eq. (3), but with
the constant ranging between 1.84 and 3.79 s m
1
.
2. A new theoretical model
Sundar and Tan (1999) have developed a theoretical
model for bubbling to jetting transition at a single ori-
ce based on the physical mechanism of liquid droplet
entrainment by an upward owing gas jet through an ori-
ce, as described by Nielsen, Tek, and York (1965). The
model considers a force balance on a lm of liquid (thick-
ness o) adjacent to the gas core at the onset of jetting
(Fig. 1):
o,
!
U
!
dU
!
dx
=oq(,
!
,
q
) +
1
2
C
d
,
q
U
2
D. (4)
A relevant analogy can be drawn from the work of Taitel,
Barnea, and Duckler (1980), who studied the mechanisms
leading to slug-to-annular transition in vertically upward
gasliquid ow. Taitel et al. (1980) reasoned that if the
gas velocity were sucient to lift the liquid drops present
in the ow, annular ow would persist. The upward ow
of the liquid lm against gravity results from the forces
exerted by the fast moving gas core. This lm has a wavy
interface and the waves tend to shatter and enter the gas
core as entrained droplets. If the upward gas momentum
is insucient to maintain a stable liquid lm, then vertical
slug ow results.
By analogy, we put the acceleration term to zero at
transition between bubbling and jetting at the orice, and
by using the well-known equation of Abramovich (1963)
for the velocity distribution, U, in a circular jet (following
Chen et al., 1982), we obtain an expression of the form
H
D
h
=K(Fr

) +

D
h
, (5)
where is the distance between the virtual origin
of the jet and the orice (Abramovich, 1963) and
Fr

=U
h
,
0.5
q
(oq(,
!
,
q
))
0.5
. Interestingly, the theoreti-
cal treatment predicts a Froude number relationship, with
the lm thickness, o, as the characteristic length dimen-
sion instead of liquid depth H or the hole diameter D
h
.
The magnitude of o can be obtained by further consid-
ering the analogy with vertical gasliquid annular ow.
The relationship between gas velocity and the liquid sur-
face tension for this case can be expressed in terms of an
energy balance (Richter, 1981)
1
2
,
q
U
2
=
o
z
, (6)
where z is a critical wave amplitude for a stable liquid
lm. Hewitt and Nicholls (1969) found that the ratio of
wave amplitude, z, to lm thickness, o, was between 4
and 6, that is, 4o z 6o.
Substituting the above into Eqs. (4) and (5), and rear-
ranging yields
H
D
h
=K

U
h
,
0.5
q
(oq(,
!
,
q
))
0.25
+

D
h
. (7)
The term U
h
,
0.5
q
(oq(,
!
,
q
))
0.25
is recognisable as the
Kutateladze number, Ku (Taitel et al., 1980), which is a
dimensionless group relating gas inertia, buoyancy and
surface tension. These are precisely the three forces iden-
tied by Payne and Prince (1975) as the ones that deter-
mine transition.
Finally, the physical model described above is applied
to the case of a sieve plate containing multiple orices.
Following Payne and Prince (1975, 1977), we modify
Eq. (7) for the case of spray-to-froth transition at multiple
orices by writing H
!
in place of H:
H
!
D
h
=C
1
(Ku) + C
2
. (8)
R. B. H. Tan, R. Sundar / Chemical Engineering Science 56 (2001) 63376340 6339
Fig. 2. Correlation of data for HD
h
vs. Ku at bubbling-to-jetting
transition at a single orice, by Eq. (7).
3. Results and discussion
The validity of our derived Eq. (7) was conrmed by
plotting the experimental results of (HD
h
) versus the
Kutateladze number, Ku, reported by Muller and Prince
(1972), Payne and Prince (1975) and Sundar (1998) for
bubbling to jetting transition at a single submerged orice
for various airliquid systems (Fig. 2). The plot shows
excellent agreement for the range of systems and condi-
tions studied.
The intercept in Fig. 2 yields a value of 2.1 for the ratio
D
h
. This would correspond to a cone half angle of about
13

according to the jet penetration theory advanced by


Lockett (1981).
Experimental studies on transition from froth to spray
regimes at multiple orices have been reported by Porter
and Wong (1969), Pinczewski and Fell (1972), Payne and
Prince (1977) and by Prince, Jones, and Panic (1979).
Their investigations covered sieve trays with plate-free
areas ranging from 5% to 16%, which are commonly
found on commercial sieve trays.
Fig. 3 shows the comparison of Eq. (8) with pub-
lished experimental data for froth-to-spray transition at
multi-orice plates. The experimental data show excel-
lent agreement with the theoretical expression. The linear
relationship between HD
h
and Ku appears to be valid for
the whole range of Froude numbers and Bond numbers
represented in these data. The constants C
1
and C
2
are
obtained by regression to be 1.85 and 1.96, respectively.
Comparing Ku with Fr as dened by in Eq. (1), it can
be easily deduced that
Ku =FrBo
0.25
, (9)
Fig. 3. Correlation of data for H
!
D
h
vs. Ku at froth-to-spray transition
for multi-orice plates, by Eq. (8).
so that for high values of Fr, the eect of Bo is apparently
masked. In the low Froude number region, it is to be
expected that the eect of Bo becomes appreciable, as
observed in the experimental data reported by Payne and
Prince (1977).
The new model for froth-to-spray transition at a
multi-orice plate (Eq. (8)) is proposed by extension of
a successful approach for single orice transition (Eq.
(7)). The model is based on actual physical phenom-
ena of droplet entrainment at a submerged orice and
slugannular transition for vertical gasliquid ow, is an
improvement over previous empirical correlations. It has
a wider range of application than the Payne and Prince
(1977) expression, since it appears to be valid for all
values of Froude number and Bond number encountered
in practice.
4. Conclusion
A new theoretical expression for froth-to-spray transi-
tion at multi-orice plates has been developed, which has
the form
H
!
D
h
=1.85Ku + 1.96,
where Ku =(U
h
,
0.5
q
(oq(,
!
,
q
))
0.25
is the Kutateledze
number.
The expression adequately accounts for the combined
eects of gas inertia, buoyancy and surface tension from
a wide range of published experimental data.
6340 R. B. H. Tan, R. Sundar / Chemical Engineering Science 56 (2001) 63376340
Notation
Bo Bond number, dimensionless
(=,
!
,
q
)qD
2
o)
C
d
drag coecient, dimensionless
D variable jet diameter, m
D
h
orice diameter, m
Fr Froude number
(=U
h
,
0.5
q
(D
h
q(,
!
,
q
))
0.5
), dimensionless
Fr

modied Froude number,


(=U
h
,
0.5
q
(oq(,
!
,
q
))
0.5
), dimensionless
q gravitational acceleration, ms
2
H clear liquid height above a single orice, m
H
!
dispersion height above a multi-orice plate,
m
K constant in Eq. (5)
Ku Kutateladze number
(=U
h
,
0.5
q
(oq(,
!
,
q
))
0.25
), dimensionless
U gas velocity in jet, ms
U
h
hole gas velocity, ms
U
!
liquid lament velocity, ms
U
t
terminal velocity of largest drop (Eq. (2)),
ms
Greek letters
o liquid lm thickness, m
vertical distance between the virtual origin of
the jet and the orice, m
z critical wave amplitude, m
,
q
gas density, kgm
3
,
!
liquid density, kgm
3
o surface tension, Nm
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