CFD modeling of mass-transfer processes in randomly packed distillation columns

F. H. Yin, C. G. Sun, A. Afacan, K. Nandakumar*, K. T. Chuang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


The volume-averaged equations for velocity and concentration fields have been used to simulate the hydrodynamics and mass-transfer processes in randomly packed distillation columns. This approach is regarded as a second- generation computational fluid dynamics (CFD) based model, and a significant departure from the traditional one-dimensional, first-generation models. The model has ability to capture radial and axial variations in flow and mass- transfer conditions. The spatial variation of void fraction has been included to take into account the effect of bed structures. The simulation results have been compared with experimental data reported by Fractionation Research, Inc. (FRI) which performed their tests in a 1.22-m-diameter column with a packed bed height of 3.66 m. For validation, we have used data obtained with 15.9-, 25.4-, and 50.8-mm metal Pall rings at various operating conditions. Good agreement between CFD predictions and published experimental data has been obtained. This is regarded as an encouraging sign that CFD models can play a useful role in studying separation processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1369-1380
Number of pages12
JournalIndustrial and Engineering Chemistry Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


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