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www.elsevier.com/locate/ces

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.

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

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

(=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

References

Abramovich, G. N. (1963). The theory of turbulent jets. Cambridge,

MA: M.I.T. Press.

Barber, A. D., & Wijn, E. F. (1979). Foaming in crude distillation

units. Institute of Chemical Engineers Symposium Series, 56,

3.1153.135.

Chen, J. J. J., Wong, P. F. Y., & Kwan, W. K. (1982). Spray-bubbling

transition on sieve trays. International Journal of Multiphase

Flow, 8(5), 565568.

Hewitt, G. F., & Nicholls, B. N. (1969). Film thickness measurement

in annular two-phase ow using uorescence spectrometer

technique. Part II, AERE-Harwell R4506.

Hofhuis, P. A. M., & Zuiderweg, F. J. (1979). Sieve plates: Dispersion

density and ow regimes. Institute of Chemical Engineers

Symposium Series, 56, 2.212.226.

Lockett, M. J. (1981). The froth to spray transition on sieve trays.

Transactions of the Institution of Chemical Engineers, 59, 2634.

Muller, R. L., & Prince, R. G. H. (1972). Regimes of bubbling and

jetting from submerged orices. Chemical Engineering Science,

27, 15831592.

Nielsen, R. D., Tek, M. R., & York, J. L. (1965). Mechanism

of entrainment formation in distillation columns. Proceedings of

the symposium on two-phase ow, University of Exeter, Vol I

(pp. F201F225).

Payne, G. J., & Prince, R. G. H. (1975). The transition from jetting

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of Chemical Engineers, 53, 209223.

Payne, G. J., & Prince, R. G. H. (1977). The relationship between

the froth and spray regimes, and the orice processes occurring

on perforated distillation plates. Transactions of the Institution

of Chemical Engineers, 55, 266273.

Pinczewski, W. V., & Fell, C. J. D. (1972). The transition

from froth-to-spray regime on commercially loaded sieve trays.

Transactions of the Institution of Chemical Engineers, 50,

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to bubbling on sieve plates. Institute of Chemical Engineers

Symposium Series, 32, 2:222:33.

Prince, R. G. H., Jones, A. P., & Panic, R. J. (1979). The froth spray

transition. Institute of Chemical Engineers Symposium Series,

56, 2.2272.239.

Richter, H. J. (1981). Flooding in tubes and annuli. International

Journal of Multiphase Flow, 7(6), 647658.

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