Existing models for laminar flow in tubular reactors neglect radial velocities in the momentum transport equation. The axial velocity distribution is calculated assuming fully developed flow wherein axial velocities are in local equilibrium with the radial viscosity profile. A test of this assumption has been devised using a representative model of the Newtonian viscosity, μ(r, z), and by reconstructing the radial velocity components using the continuity equation. The assumption of fully developed flow is shown to be a valid approximation for typical polymerization reactions. However, the fact that radial velocities are negligible with respect to momentum transport does not mean they are negligible with respect to convective diffusion of heat and mass. Radial convection is shown to be important for typical polymerization and heat transfer examples.
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