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Research Papers

Investigation of Bubble and Fluid Flow Patterns Within a Column Photobioreactor

[+] Author and Article Information
S. M. Mortuza

Department of Mechanical Engineering,  South Dakota State University, SCEH 216, Brookings, SD 57007s.m.golam.mortuza@sdstate.edu

Stephen P. Gent

Department of Mechanical Engineering,  South Dakota State University, SCEH 242, Brookings, SD 57007stephen.gent@sdstate.edu

Anil Kommareddy

GISc Center of Excellence,  South Dakota State University, SWC 115J, Brookings, SD 57007anil.kommareddy@sdstate.edu

Gary A. Anderson

Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering,  South Dakota State University, SAE 115, Brookings, SD 57007gary.anderson@sdstate.edu

J. Fuel Cell Sci. Technol 9(3), 031006 (Apr 20, 2012) (8 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4006052 History: Received November 01, 2011; Revised December 13, 2011; Published April 19, 2012; Online April 20, 2012

This research study investigates bubble and liquid circulation patterns in a vertical column photobioreactor (PBR) both experimentally as well as computationally using computational fluid dynamics (CFD). Dispersed gas-liquid flow in the rectangular bubble column PBR are modeled using Eulerian-Lagrangian approach. A low Reynolds number k-epsilon CFD model is used to describe the flow pattern near the wall. A flat surface bubble column PBR is used to achieve sufficient light penetration into the system. Bubble size distribution measurements were completed using a high-speed digital camera. Operating parameters, bubble flow patterns, and internal hydrodynamics of a bubble column reactor were studied, and the numerical simulations presented for the hydrodynamics in a bubble column PBR account for bubble phenomena that have not been sufficiently accounted for in previous research. Bubble size and shape affect the hydrodynamics as does bubble interaction with other bubbles (multiple bubbles in a flow versus single bubbles and wall effects on bubble(s) that are not symmetrical or bubbles not centered on the reactor cross-section). Understanding the bubble movement patterns will aid in predicting other design parameters like mass transfer (bubble to liquid and liquid to bubble), heat transfer (within the PBR and between the PBR and environment surrounding the PBR), and interaction forces inside the PBR. The computational results are validated with experimental data and from current literature.

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Copyright © 2012 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figures

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Figure 2

Flow pattern viewed from the front experimentally (left) and computationally (right)

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Figure 1

Isometric view of volume mesh

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Figure 3

Flow pattern from side view experimentally (left) and computationally (right)

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Figure 4

(a) Bubble flow pattern at the beginning for 1 liter/min volume flow rate. (b) Bubble flow pattern at the beginning for 10 liter/min volume flow rate. (c) Bubble flow pattern at steady state for 10 liter/min volume flow rate.

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Figure 5

(a) Numerically predicted relationship between volumetric mass transfer coefficient and superficial gas velocity (R2  = 1). (b) Numerically predicted relationship between bubble average Reynolds number and superficial gas velocity (R2  = 0.9). (c) Numerically predicted relationship between bubble average drag coefficient and superficial gas velocity (R2  = 0.83).

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