The hydrodynamic performance of three internal airlift reactor configurations was studied by the Eulerian–Eulerian k–ε model for a two-phase turbulent flow. Comparative evaluation of different drag and lift force coefficient models in terms of liquid velocity in the riser and downcomer and gas holdup in the riser was highlighted. Drag correlations as a function of Eötvös number performed better results in comparison to the drag expressions related to Reynolds number. However, the drag correlation as a function of both Reynolds and Eötvös numbers fitted well with experimental results for the riser gas holdup and downcomer liquid velocity in configurations I and II. Positive lift coefficients increase the liquid velocity and decrease the riser gas holdup, while opposite results were obtained for negative values. By studying the effects of bubble size and their shape, the smaller bubbles provide a lower liquid velocity and a gas holdup. The effects of bubble-induced turbulence and other non-drag closure models such as turbulent dispersion and added mass forces were analysed. The gas velocity and gas holdup distributions, liquid velocity in the riser and downcomer, vectors of velocity magnitude and streamlines for liquid phase, the dynamics of gas holdup distribution and turbulent viscosity at different superficial gas velocities for different reactor configurations were computed. The effects of various geometrical parameters such as the draft tube clearance and the ratio of the riser to the downcomer cross-sectional area on liquid velocities in the riser and the downcomer, the gas velocity and the gas holdup were explored. © 2011 Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering
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