The pressure drop and mass transfer efficiency for two-phase flow in a structured packed column were simulated using a commercial CFD package, CFX version 10. The distillation of the methanol/isopropanol system was carried out in a 0.073 m diameter column, with an element composed of a ceramic structured packing and 0.053 m in height. The Height Equivalent to Theoretical Plate (HETP) value varied from 0.106-0.146 m. Pressure drop experiments were measured with an air/water system. The pressure drops at the flooding and loading points were ca. 173 and 580 Pa/m of packing, respectively. HETPs and pressure drops calculated from the Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) model were compared to their experimental counterparts. The average relative error between CFD predictions and the experimental data for the prediction of dry pressure drop, irrigated pressure drop and mass transfer efficiency are 20.3 %, 23 % and 9.15 %, respectively. In all cases, the CFD predictions show a good agreement with the experimental data, indicating that CFD is a reliable, cost saving and suitable technique for the design and optimization of separation processes.
- Packed column
- Process optimization