oa Educor Multidisciplinary Journal - Modeling and simulations of hydrodynamics and mass transfer parameters in an airlift reactor

Volume 2 Number 1
  • ISSN : 2520-4254
  • E-ISSN: 2663-2349



Airlift reactors are a vital part of biological industries involving water and wastewater treatment and cell culturing for various further processing. Some of these industries include bioconversions of organic matter into bio-fertilisers, biogas, and bio-insecticides. These processes are ‘greener’ and therefore aid in reducing environmental pollution. Another important industry that uses this type of reactor are waste and wastewater treatment plants or facilities. The waste and wastewater industries are of the utmost importance, considering they involve a natural but depleting resource, vital for everyday life.

Despite these applications being of great importance to biological processes and industries, there has been little published data that validates experimental values with simulated values. The current data available is limited regarding the sizes of reactors used and the variations of fluid chemicals used. The project therefore seeks to add to the current available data on modelled and simulated airlift reactors. The project includes the development of an airlift reactor model, which will be able to predict specific hydrodynamic properties. The hydrodynamic properties to be considered are the gas and liquid hold-up in the column and the volumetric mass transfer coefficient. The aforementioned properties are acceptable indicators of the performance of the airlift reactor. A well-designed model translates to a more accurate development for a scale up of the reactor for future desired processes, thus saving on pilot-type costs and reducing the carbon footprint of the future desired project.

The results generated by this project are compared to the averaged experimental values obtained by a similarly performed investigation. The Eulerian-Eulerian multiphase model in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software is used for the simulation of the airlift reactor as well as the k-ε turbulence model for the fluid flow dynamics. Six runs are conducted in total and each run consisted of up to 200 iterations. The simulation takes approximately five to twenty-five minutes to reach completion. The gas hold-up is produced by the software and was found to be lower than the experimental data obtained from literature. The reactor model will need to be further refined to obtain results that are more accurate. Refining the model could include changing the reactor dimensions to more closely approximate the dimensions used in the experimental data and further, in generating of a finer mesh.

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