Residence time distributions have become an important analytical tool in the analysis of many types of flow systems. Residence time distributions have proven to be effective for analysing trickle bed reactors, as it allows determination of parameters under operating conditions allowing no interference of these conditions. By studying the residence time distribution a great amount of information can be obtained and therefore used to determine a number of hydrodynamic parameters. Due to recent findings that prewetting has a tremendous effect on a number of hydrodynamic parameters such as holdup, wetting efficiency and pressure drop, it is therefore the aim of this study to investigate the effect of trickle flow morphology or prewetting on a trickle bed reactor. The residence time distribution is obtained whereby hydrodynamic parameters are determined and therefore the effect the flow morphology has on various hydrodynamic parameters is highlighted. A number of methods were used to determine these parameters, namely that of the best-fit method, whereby the PDE model was used, and the method of moments. Operating conditions included varying gas and liquid flow rates for porous and non-porous catalyst particles at atmospheric pressure. The different prewetting procedures used during this work included the following: <ul><li>Non-wetted </li> <li>Levec-wetted </li> <li>Super-wetted</li></ul> From this investigation the following conclusions were made: <li>Prewetting has a great effect on the hydrodynamic parameters of trickle bed reactors</li> <li>The differences in prewetting can be attributed to differing flow morphologies for the different prewetted beds i.e. the dominant flow morphology for a non-wetted bed is that of rivulets and for prewetted beds that of film flow</li> <li>It was also found that at low liquid flow rates the flow morphology in prewetted beds changes from film flow to a combination of rivulet and film flow</li> <li>The different flow morphologies for prewetted and non prewetted beds was confirmed by the residence time distributions and various parameters obtained there from</li> <li>At low liquid flow rates the flow morphology becomes a more predominant factor in creating the tailing effect present in residence time distribution for prewetted beds</li> <li>The tailing effect in residence time distributions is a result of both internal diffusion and liquid flow morphology, where the liquid flow morphology is the more dominant factor</li> <li>The use of residence time distributions to determine a number of hydrodynamic parameters proved to be very useful and accurate by means of different methods, i.e. method of moments and best-fit method</li> <li>Differences in the liquid holdup determined from the method of moments and the weighing method confirmed that different flow morphologies exist for different prewetted beds</li> <li>An increase in the dispersion coefficient with prewetting was observed indicating that the amount of micro mixing is different for the different prewetted beds</li> <li>Differences in residence times and high values for the dynamic holdup, for the porous packing, confirmed that the PDE model does not model well the porous packing response curves due to the lack of internal diffusion and internal holdup in this model</li> <li>The dynamic-static mass transfer showed that film flow, as in prewetted beds, results in slower mass transfer as opposed to rivulet flow and therefore it is concluded that prewetting results in different flow morphologies.</li></ul> Following this study it is recommended that a residence time distribution model be used or developed that incorporates the effects of internal diffusion and internal holdup as present in porous catalyst particles. In addition, it was found that very few correlations could accurately predict hydrodynamic parameters due to the absence of the effect of prewetting and therefore it is recommended that correlations be developed that incorporate the effect of prewetting.
Dissertation (MEng)--University of Pretoria, 2008.