• particle image velocimetry;
  • liquid–liquid extraction;
  • CFD;
  • energy dissipation;
  • rotating disc contactor


Fluid dynamics of the single-phase and two-phase flow in a segment of a rotating disc contactor (RDC) liquid–liquid extraction column with 450 mm inner diameter were studied by performing computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations and particle image velocimetry (PIV) measurements. The fluid dynamics were investigated to test the predictivity of CFD at industrial scale. Different turbulence models in conjunction with the Eulerian approach were applied in the single-phase and two-phase simulations. The turbulent flow characteristics were analyzed by PIV measurements to validate the CFD simulations. An iso-optical system composed of CaCl2/water–butylacetate allows for the two-phase PIV measurements. Local turbulent energy dissipation was derived from velocity gradients in PIV data. In this connection, the influence of the PIV spatial resolution on the measured energy dissipation was also analyzed, and different fit functions were tested to scale the measured energy dissipation. Simulated velocity fields as well as the energy dissipation were compared with the experimental PIV data. The results from the simulations and experiments are in good agreement. The work shows that CFD can predict hydrodynamic characteristics even at bigger scales but is still subject to some minor restrictions. © 2010 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 2011