Experimental and Computational Study of Multiphase Flow Hydrodynamics in 2D Trickle Bed Reactors

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Humair Nadeem, Imen Ben Salem, Jundika C Kurnia, Shahid Rabbani, Tariq Shamim and Mohamed Sassi, Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Trickle bed reactors are largely used in the refining processes. Co-current heavy oil and hydrogen gas flow downward on catalytic particle bed. Fine particles in the heavy oil and/or soot formed by the exothermic catalytic reactions deposit on the bed and clog the flow channels. This work is funded by the refining company of Abu Dhabi and aims at mitigating pressure buildup due to fine deposition in the TBR.

In this work, we focus on meso-scale experimental and computational investigations of the interplay between flow regimes and the various parameters that affect them. A 2D experimental apparatus has been built to investigate the flow regimes with an average pore diameter close to the values encountered in trickle beds. A parametric study is done for the development of flow regimes and the transition between them when the geometry and arrangement of the particles within the porous medium are varied. Liquid and gas flow velocities have also been varied to capture the different flow regimes. Real time images of the multiphase flow are captured using a high speed camera, which were then used to characterize the transition between the different flow regimes. A diffused light source was used behind the 2D Trickle Bed Reactor to enhance visualizations. Experimental data shows very good agreement with the published literature.

The computational study focuses on the hydrodynamics of multiphase flow and to identify the flow regime developed inside TBRs using the ANSYS Fluent Software package. Multiphase flow inside TBRs is investigated using the “discrete particle” approach together with Volume of Fluid (VoF) multiphase flow modeling. The effect of the bed particle diameter, spacing, and arrangement are presented that may be used to provide guidelines for designing trickle bed reactors.