Trickle bed reactors (TBRs) exhibit complex hydrodynamics and this study is aimed at giving insight into whether liquid-solid mass transfer and wetting are influenced by bed depth in a 5 m trickling column using 4 mm glass spheres as random packing. Measurements were made using the novel electrochemical technique developed by Joubert and Nicol (2013). Using this technique the wetting and mass transfer could be measured simultaneously.
The study proves that the liquid-solid mass transfer and wetting efficiency do not stabilise at a minimum bed depth. The parameters were found to continue decreasing until the bottom of the bed. For the upper branch of the hydrodynamic envelope, the rate of decrease for the wetting efficiency was slow at the top of the bed and decreased rapidly closer to the bottom. However, only the wetting efficiency decreased significantly as a function of bed length; the liquid-solid mass transfer exhibited only a slight decrease of 14%. This compared well with the results of Du Toit et al. (2014), who found an 11% decrease in the liquid-solid mass transfer in a column with an x/D value of 29,4. The lower branch of the hydrodynamic envelope showed a linear decrease with respect to bed length for both wetting and mass transfer. The liquid-solid mass transfer decreased by 50% from the top of the bed to the bottom. These results are also in agreement with those of Du Toit et al. (2014)1 who found a decrease of 30% for a 1,6 m column. The wetting efficiency for the Levec mode decreased by 52%, whereas Du Toit et al. (2014)2 found a decrease of 20%.
Dissertation (MEng)--University of Pretoria, 2014.