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Numerical modeling of highly swirling flows in a through-flow cylindrical hydrocyclone



This article aims to identify the most appropriate numerical methodology for simulating hydrocyclone flows with high swirl numbers. The numerical results are validated against the tangential velocity measurements from a cylindrical hydrocyclone with a swirl number of 8.1, which is twice the typical swirl magnitude of industrial hydrocyclones. The linear and quadratic formulations of the Reynolds stress transport (RST) model are used to simulate the anisotropic swirling turbulent flow three-dimensionally in the commercial software package Fluent™. The tangential velocity profiles predicted by the quadratic RST model are in good agreement with experimental data. They also show Rankine vortex patterns over the entire flow domain. In contrast, the linear RST model fails to predict this important swirl flow feature. In addition, both models predicted a complex axial flow reversal pattern not previously reported in hydrocyclones. This study clearly shows that the quadratic RST model is preferable for future hydrocyclone simulations, especially when the swirl number is large. All necessary physical and numerical parameters used to obtain converged results are given in this article. © American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 2006