• liquid viscosity;
  • pseudo slurry viscosity;
  • gas holdup;
  • bubble size distribution;
  • ultrafast electron beam X-ray tomography

A comprehensive quantitative study on the effect of liquid viscosity (1 ≤ µL ≤ 1149 mPa-s) on the local flow phenomena of the gas phase in a small diameter bubble column is performed using ultrafast electron beam X-ray tomography. The internal dynamic flow structure and the bubble size distribution shows a dual role of the liquid viscosity on the hydrodynamics. Further, the effect of solid concentration (Cs = 0.05, 0.20) on the local flow behavior of the gas phase is studied for the pseudo slurry viscosities similar to the liquid viscosities of the gas–liquid systems. The effects of liquid and pseudo slurry viscosities on flow structure, bubble size distribution, and gas phase distribution are compared. The bubble coalescence is significantly enhanced with the addition of particles as compared to the system without particles for apparently same viscosity. The superficial gas velocity at which transition from homogeneous bubbly to slug flow regime occurs is initiated by the addition of particles as compared to the particle free system for apparently same viscosity. © 2014 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 60: 3079–3090, 2014