Chemical Engineering Science, Vol.170, 606-627, 2017
Mixing and liquid-to-gas mass transfer under digester operating conditions
This work deals with the analysis and the optimization of a dual-impeller design in terms of mixing, hydrodynamics, mass transfer properties and power input in a mechanically stirred digester devoted to biohydrogen production through acidogenic fermentation of lignocellulosic waste. Various mixer designs involving Rushton turbines, an Elephant Ear impeller and a marine propeller, were compared. Experimental data were successfully confronted to CFD-based simulations used to reveal the respective roles of impeller type, geometry and clearance. The results showed that the flow pattern was strongly influenced by the off-bottom and inter-impeller clearances, and by the size and type of the lower impeller. Straw suspension was enhanced by a small disk turbine with a low off-bottom clearance and a large inter-impeller clearance that promoted an axial flow circulation together with a small mixing time due to the interaction with the larger turbine used as the upper impeller. Conversely, k(L)a evolution was weakly dependent on impeller design, position, and rotation speed until a deep vortex formed on the free surface, showing that power input was too weak to enhance liquid-to-gas mass transfer. Finally, the design including an Elephant Ear turbine as the upper impeller and a smaller Rushton turbine as the lower impeller was selected as the best compromise between distributive and dispersive mixing, while the objective of a power input lower than 10 W/m(3) was achieved. (C) 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords:Stirred-tank bioreactor;Anaerobic digester;Dual-impeller design;CFD;Biomass suspension;Gas-liquid mass transfer