Chemical Engineering Research & Design, Vol.155, 180-199, 2020
Zonal modelling of a counter-current spray drying tower
A generic multi-zonal modelling methodology for spray drying towers is proposed to provide relatively quick (seconds) simulations on desktop computers for decision making on changing process parameters for automatic process control. A multi-zonal model comprises combinations of all or some of six differing zones: plug-flow, semi-plug-flow and well-mixed zones in either co- or counter-current flow. This approach is demonstrated by predicting the dried powder characteristics of a detergent powder from a pilot-scale counter-current spray drying tower. The types, sizes and locations of the different zones are obtained by a detailed analysis of predictions from a previous 3-dimensional Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulation of gas and particle flow dynamics and drying kinetics within the tower. The multi-zonal model consists of seven zones five in counter-current and two in co-current flow. The trends of the predicted gas temperature profiles are close to those from the CFD results. The particle exit temperature, moisture content and residence times over the full particle size distribution (PSD) range are very close to the CFD values unlike the previous simulated results from our plug-flow model. The outcome clearly demonstrates that the prerequisite to have a sound conceptual model of spray drying towers, such as the multi-zonal model developed here, is a detailed knowledge of the gas and particle flow fields within the tower. (C) 2020 Institution of Chemical Engineers. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.