Modeling the ultrasonic cavitation-enhanced removal of nitrogen oxide in a bubble column reactor



A model study of the sonochemical removal of nitric oxide (NO) in a bubble column reactor is presented. The detailed model is developed to investigate the actual cavitation phenomena taking place during the absorption of NO. The expansion and subsequent collapse of cavitation bubble according to the theory of cavity collapse—initially developed by Lord Rayleigh and then improved on by coupling the energy balance equation of the bubble and the chemical reactions taking place inside the cavity to calculate the composition of different species formed during the collapse—are modeled. The model takes into consideration (1) cavitation bubble dynamics, (2) generation and transfer of oxidizing species from bubble collapse through reaction kinetics, (3) transfer of NO from gas to liquid, and (4) chemical reactions of oxidizing species with dissolved NO. The results of the simulations surprisingly indicate that the chemistry induced by ultrasonic cavitation cannot explain the absorption of NO beyond about 30% of the inlet concentration if the mass transfer is assumed to be the same as that in the bubble column without ultrasound. When experimental values of mass-transfer coefficients, calculated in the studies by other researchers (which are in the range of about five times the physical mass-transfer coefficient in a bubble column), are used, absorption up to 80% are calculated in the simulations consistent with experimental results obtained from the sonochemical bubble column reactor. The present model provides a framework on which more robust and rigorous models can be developed for the complex gas-liquid sonochemical systems and reactors. © 2011 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 58: 2397–2411, 2012