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Keywords:

  • bubble columns;
  • multiphase flow;
  • hydrodynamics;
  • stability;
  • phase Doppler anemometry;
  • lift force

Phase Doppler anemometry was used to quantify the flow characteristic of a three phases (liquid, solid, and bubbles) cylindrical bubble column driven by a point air source made of a 30-mm diameter perforated air stone centrally mounted at the bottom. The cylindrical bubble column had an inner diameter of 152 mm and was filled with liquid up to 1 m above the point source. Acrylic beads with a nominal diameter of 3 mm were used as the solid phase. To match the density of the solid phase which was 1.05 kg/m3, the liquid density was raised to about 1.0485 kg/m3 by added salt. The bubble diameters generated were within the range of 600–2400 µm. The detailed turbulent characteristics of the liquid-phase velocity, bubble diameter, bubble velocity, and solid velocity were measured at three different air rates, namely 0.4, 0.8, and 1.2 L/min (corresponding to average gas volume fraction of 0.0084, 0.0168, and 0.0258, respectively) for the homogeneous bubble column regime. With the addition of the solid phase, the flow field was found to be relatively steady compared to the two-phase column referencing the probability density functions for both the liquid and bubble velocities. An analysis based on the determination of the drag forces and transversal lift forces was performed to examine the flow stability in the three-phase bubble column. The analysis illustrated that how the added solid phase effectively stabilized the flow field to achieve a steady circulation in the bubble column and a generalized criterion for the flow stability in the three-phase bubble column was derived. Further investigation for the transition and the heterogeneous bubble column regime with air rates at 2.0 and 4.0 L/min shown that this criterion can also be used as a general prediction of flow stability in this three-phase bubble column. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 59: 2286–2307, 2013