CFD based extraction column design — Chances and challenges


This paper shows that one-dimensional (1-D) [and three-dimensional (3-D) computational fluid dynamics (CFD)] simulations can replace the state-of-the-art usage of pseudo-homogeneous dispersion or back mixing models. This is based on standardized lab-scale cell experiments for the determination of droplet rise, breakage, coalescence and mass transfer parameters in addition to a limited number of additional mini-plant experiments with original fluids. Alternatively, the hydrodynamic parameters can also be derived using more sophisticated 3-D CFD simulations. Computational 1-D modeling served as a basis to replace pilot-plant experiments in any column geometry. The combination of 3-D CFD simulations with droplet population balance models (DPBM) increased the accuracy of the hydrodynamic simulations and gave information about the local droplet size. The high computational costs can be reduced by open source CFD codes when using a flexible mesh generation. First combined simulations using a three way coupled CFD/DPBM/mass-transfer solver pave the way for a safer design of industrial-sized columns, where no correlations are available.