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Effect of surfactants on mass transfer coefficients in bubble column contactors: an interpretative critical review study

Sahand Nekoeian, Masoud Aghajani, Seyed Mehdi Alavi and Fatemeh Sotoudeh


Since surfactants have been recognized as the most frequently faced contaminants of bubble column-related processes over time, their impact on the mass transfer operation of these columns has become a demanding research interest for two recent decades. Despite the similarities expressing the overall negative and positive influence of these chemicals on mass transfer coefficients and specific interfacial area, respectively, the discrepancies and, sometimes, paradoxical results are still under debate in the literature. To make a more comprehensive recognition of the mentioned subject, the current paper has tried to pave the path by reviewing all the major methods utilized in related research works. Thereafter, an interpretative argumentative comparison of the main findings of relevant studies has also been proposed, enlightening some of the research gaps which can be the potential candidates for future studies.



mobile surface in stagnant cap model


stagnant cap area


bubble surface area


surfactant cap area


surfactant cap area at the transition point


effective interfacial area


specific interfacial area


specific interfacial area at negligible absorption rate


interfacial area per mole of adsorbed surfactant molecules


surfactant concentration in the liquid phase


gas solubility


liquid bulk oxygen concentration


equilibrium oxygen concentration in the liquid


initial oxygen concentration in the liquid


equilibrium oxygen concentration in the overall specific oxygen absorption rate measurement


equilibrium oxygen concentration in the oxygen absorption rate measurement


surfactant concentration in the liquid phase


solid particle concentration


bubble drag coefficient


mobile bubble drag coefficient


rigid bubble drag coefficient


Co-current downflow contacting column


critical micelle concentration


gas diffusivity


direct numerical simulation


bubble diameter


solid particle diameter


bubble diameter of the ith size class


bubble Sauter mean diameter


bubble arithmetic average diameter


the maximum bubble diameter for a spherical shape


the minimum bubble diameter to have an ellipsoidal shape


elliptical bubble height to length ratio


flux of oxygen transferred by the bubble in PLIF technique


bubble formation frequency


gravitational acceleration


ungassed liquid height of a column


bubble column height


liquid height in the column


hydrophilic lipophilic balance


height of a bubble in the shape of oblate spheroid


height of the bubble clean segment at the transition point


fluorescence intensity in the absence of oxygen in PLIF technique


fluorescence intensity in PLIF technique


oxygen flux density in PLIF technique


surfactant property constant


kinetic coefficient of the pseudo-first-order reaction


contributions of the not catalyzed reactions


contributions of the catalyzed reactions


adsorption constant


Stern-Volmer constant in PLIF technique


bubble mass transfer coefficient at clean interface


bubble mass transfer coefficient at fully contaminated interface


intrinsic liquid-side mass transfer coefficient


volumetric liquid-side mass transfer coefficient


intrinsic mass transfer coefficient of bubble with clean interface


intrinsic mass transfer coefficient of bubble with fully contaminated interface


bubble mass transfer coefficient in zone B


bubble mass transfer coefficient in zone C


average liquid-side intrinsic mass transfer coefficient


surfactant mass transfer coefficient


surfactant diffusivity constant


length of a bubble in the shape of oblate spheroid


characteristic length


laser-induced fluorescence


absorption rate


total mass of Na2SO3


mass of Na2SO3 reacting with the oxygen dissolved during the stationary regime


mass of Na2SO3 remaining in the column


quantity of transferred oxygen


molecular mass of O2


molecular mass of Na2SO3


diffusing gas molar flux


number of terminal rising bubbles


bubble number of the ith size class


total number of bubbles


dissolved oxygen concentration in the liquid phase in PLIF technique


oxygen solubility in the bulk liquid in PLIF technique


bulk Peclet number


barometric pressure


partial pressure of water


partial pressure of oxygen


gas flow rate


volumetric gas flow rate on the inlet of the dispersion


volumetric gas flow rate on the outlet of the dispersion


surface coverage ratio at equilibrium


Schmidt number


bubble residence time of the ith size class


bubble residence time


mobile bubble age


time constant of the probe


characteristic time for mass transfer


time interval between two frames




adsorption temperature


rising bubble velocity


superficial gas velocity


ungassed liquid volume of a column


total reactor volume


average detached bubble volume


normalized probe reading of dissolved oxygen concentration


ordinate of the bubble center of gravity

Greek symbols

process scaling factor


dissolved gas concentration difference


bubble slip velocity


kinematic viscosity


height increase after gas dispersion


volume expansion after gas dispersion


bubble spatial displacement between two frames


density of liquid


density of gas


surface tension


stagnant cap angle


bubble interfacial shear stress


overall specific oxygen absorption rate in the dispersion


surface surfactant concentration when it is saturated


surface surfactant concentration at equilibrium


surface tension at near zero surfactant concentration


surface tension of surfactant solution


liquid viscosity


elasticity number


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Received: 2018-12-05
Accepted: 2019-08-13
Published Online: 2019-09-27
Published in Print: 2021-07-27

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