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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter October 20, 2006

Modern Trends in CFD Simulations: Application to GTL Technology

Abid Akhtar, Vishnu K Pareek and Moses O Tade

Multiphase flow processes are frequently observed in several important reactor technologies. These technologies are found in diverse applications such as in manufacture of petroleum-based fuels and products, conversion of synthesis gas into liquid hydrocarbons (Gas-to-liquid technology), production of commodity chemicals, pharmaceuticals, herbicides, pesticides, polymers etc. Due to the inherent complexity of these processes, the knowledge of fluid dynamic and transport parameters is necessary for development of appropriate reactor models and scale-up rules. It is, therefore, of paramount importance to develop understanding and predictive tools to simulate multiphase flow processes for better and economically viable reactor technologies. In the past, knowledge of hydrodynamics and transport characteristics of multiphase reactors has been interpreted in the form of empirical correlations, which have numerous restrictions in terms of their validity for different operating conditions. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation, on the other hand, deals with the solution of fluid dynamic equations on digital computers, requiring relatively few restrictive assumptions and thus giving a complete description of the hydrodynamics of these reactors. This detailed predicted flow field gives an accurate insight to the fluid behaviour and can sometimes give information, which cannot be obtained from experiments. These days, due to cheaper computational resources, CFD simulations are becoming economically reliable for modeling of multiphase processes including GTL (Gas-to-liquid) processes. In this paper, a comprehensive review of different multiphase flow simulation approaches has been presented. The recent progress made in hydrodynamic modeling of multiphase reactors, their capabilities and limitations (with special focus on GTL processes) are discussed in detail. Finally, case studies with different simulation approaches (Eulerian-Eulerian and VOF (Volume of fluid) simulations of bubble column reactors operating in different flow regimes) are discussed to demonstrate the power of this emerging research tool.

Published Online: 2006-10-20

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