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Experimental validation of CFD simulations of a lab-scale fluidized-bed reactor with and without side-gas injection



Fluidized-bed reactors are widely used in the biofuel industry for combustion, pyrolysis, and gasification processes. In this work, a lab-scale fluidized-bed reactor without and with side-gas injection and filled with 500–600 μm glass beads is simulated using the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) code Fluent 6.3, and the results are compared to experimental data obtained using pressure measurements and 3D X-ray computed tomography. An initial grid-dependence CFD study is carried out using 2D simulations, and it is shown that a 4-mm grid resolution is sufficient to capture the time- and spatial-averaged local gas holdup in the lab-scale reactor. Full 3D simulations are then compared with the experimental data on 2D vertical slices through the fluidized bed. Both the experiments and CFD simulations without side-gas injection show that in the cross section of the fluidized bed there are two large off-center symmetric regions in which the gas holdup is larger than in the center of the fluidized bed. The 3D simulations using the Syamlal-O'Brien and Gidaspow drag models predict well the local gas holdup variation throughout the entire fluidized bed when compared to the experimental data. In comparison, simulations with the Wen-Yu drag model generally over predict the local gas holdup. The agreement between experiments and simulations with side-gas injection is generally good, where the side-gas injection simulates the immediate volatilization of biomass. However, the effect of the side-gas injection extends further into the fluidized bed in the experiments as compared to the simulations. Overall the simulations under predict the gas dispersion rate above the side-gas injector. © 2009 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 2010