Trickle-flow is traditionally modeled by means of hydrodynamic parameters such as liquid holdup, two-phase pressure drop and wetting efficiency. Several studies showed that these parameters are not only a function of flow conditions and bed properties, but also of the flow history and morphology of flow. These can have a major influence on the distribution in the bed. The effect of flow morphology on liquid holdup and pressure drop is widely discussed in literature, but little attention is paid to its effect on wetting efficiency. Trickle-bed reactor models suggest that not a only bed-averaged but also the distribution of wetting efficiency may be of importance for reactor performance. Both the average wetting efficiency and the distribution of wetting are probably a function flow history and morphology. The distribution of wetting efficiency for different flow morphologies were investigated by means of a colorometric method that was developed for this purpose. Representative wetting distributions could be obtained. Flow morphologies and liquid distributions were manipulated by means of the pre-wetting procedure that was performed prior to flow. Pulse and Levec pre-wetted beds were investigated. These distributions were explained in detail in terms of flow morphology. It was found that the average wetting efficiency in pulse pre-wetted beds are much higher than in Levec pre-wetted beds. All particles in the pulse pre-wetted beds at all investigated flow conditions were contacted by the flowing liquid. This was not the case for the Levec pre-wetted beds. It was found that the flow in Levec pre-wetted beds become similar to that in pulse pre-wetted beds at high liquid flow rates. It was investigated how these distributions can affect reactor modeling, based on popular particle-scale models that relate reactor efficiency to wetting efficiency. According to these models, the wetting efficiency distribution in pulse pre-wetted beds can be characterised by means of only its average value. This is not the case for Levec pre-wetted beds. These results are however a strong function of the models that were employed. Finally, some recommendations are made in terms of the preferred pre-wetting method or flow morphology for different types of reactions. These recommendations are also based on models and have not been verified with experiments.
Dissertation (MEng (Chemical Engineering))--University of Pretoria, 2007.