Chemical Engineering Communications
The effect on gas-liquid mass transfer of dispersing an oil phase in water in an aerated stirred tank is not predictable, because the mechanisms involved are not well understood. To try to elucidate these mechanisms, a set of experiments was carried out that included: (i) measurement of the effect of oil addition on gas dispersion properties, (ii) quantification of mass transfer of two solutes (heptane and oxygen) with very different solubilities in the liquid phases, and (iii) variation of the spreading characteristics of the oil phase, which consisted of mixtures of dodecane and heptane in varying concentrations. It was found that in the case of heptane mass transfer, when the oil spreading coefficient S changes from negative to positive, the outlet gas becomes practically saturated, corresponding to a several-fold increase in mass transfer coefficient. In the case of oxygen mass transfer, the effect of S is not as dramatic, but it is also quite significant. For a spreading oil phase (S > 0), the mass transfer coefficient decreases upon trace oil addition, going through a minimum as oil holdup increases, and then increasing steadily. In the case of a non-spreading oil phase, mass transfer coefficient initially increases with oil holdup increase, going through a maximum and then decreasing. Comparison between mass transfer coefficients for the two solutes indicates that kLa for heptane is larger than that of oxygen by a margin not explainable through the difference in diffusivities, which is evidence for a difference in transfer paths/mechanisms. A physical interpretation compatible with these results is offered. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
Year of publication: 2013