Paper presented to the 10th International Conference on Heat Transfer, Fluid Mechanics and Thermodynamics, Florida, 14-16 July 2014.
A large number of industrial processes are based on the concentration of liquid products by means of falling-film evaporation. In the dehydration of dairy products, concentrating a fluid by evaporating represents one of the most important steps of the whole drying process. Among the advantages of this technology is that it is possible to operate within small temperature differences which results in low heat consumption. In this sense, it is necessary to increase the amount of removed water during the falling-film evaporation to reduce the energy cost of the overall process. However, reducing the fraction of the solvent leads to an increase in viscosity of the product which can show non-Newtonian features. This aspect significantly affects the heat transfer, that is to say, the higher the solid content, the lower the heat transfer coefficient. One of the possible solutions to this drawback consists in drawing maximum benefit from the interaction between the fluid film and the co-flow of the gaseous phase resulting from the evaporation process. Unfortunately, accurate studies of the effect of co-flow on evaporative falling films are very rare and difficult to perform because of the high costs of the implementation of a suitable experimental apparatus.
In this work, the experimental study of the influence of the co-flow on the heat transfer coefficient is presented as a function of both the solid content and the mass flow rate of the feed. The experimental set-up, consisting in a unique industrial pilot scale evaporator, provides the possibility to obtain results useful for realistic industrial conditions. Tests were conducted with varying dry solid content from 10 to 50%.
The results show that the co-flow has the effect to decrease the potential for fouling/poor wetting. Above this, the influence on the heat transfer is not as large as expected because of the dominant influence of the viscosity.