Chemical Engineering Research & Design, Vol.147, 493-509, 2019
Experimental and numerical investigation on mixing of dilute oil in water dispersions in a stirred tank
Stirred tanks are commonly employed for liquid-liquid dispersion processes in many industries. This study investigated the effects of agitation speed, and oil type and volume fraction on the hydrodynamic characteristics and chord length distribution (CLD) of dilute oil in water dispersions in a stirred tank. Electrical resistance tomography (ERT) and a focused beam reflectance measurement (FBRM) instrument were used to assess the liquid-liquid flow and to measure droplet size inside the tank, respectively. We also simulated flow field via computational fluid dynamic and modeled droplet size distribution in a stirred tank by population balance modeling. An increase in agitation speed was found to decrease the mean and Sauter mean diameter while improving the homogeneity of the system. Wider distributions were observed at higher oil volume fractions, without a significant change in droplet size. Increasing the viscosity of the oil phase resulted in poor mixing, with a gradual shift towards smaller droplets. The effect of the dispersion process on droplet shape and deformation rate were also investigated using CLD results. Further shape analysis was performed using Python coding. Our results show that the shape of the droplets changed from sphere to spheroid with an increase in agitation speed. An increase in droplet deformation rate was also observed with an increase in the oil phase viscosity and a decrease in the interfacial tension between the two immiscible liquids. (C) 2019 Published by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of Institution of Chemical Engineers.