Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering, Vol.87, No.3, 394-402, 2009
HYDRODYNAMIC AND THERMAL EXPERIMENTATION ON SQUARE-BASED SPOUTED BEDS FOR POLYMER UPGRADING AND UNIT SCALE-UP
This paper presents the results from an extensive experimentation on polyester chips heating, crystallization and upgrading in three different size spouted bed units: a cylindrical 0.15 m diameter x 1.3 m tall, a 0.35 m square-based x 2.1 m tall parallelepiped and a sextuple multi-spouting 0.7 x 1.05 m(2) demonstration reactor for solid state post-polymerization. The first apparatus was finalized to measuring several process operating variables (maximum gas temperature at the inlet, overall heat transfer coefficient and particle agglomeration tendency); the second unit provided the hydrodynamical data necessary to scale-up the system, insert into a PET upgrading process of 30 ton/day operating capacity and partially replace a bubbling fluidized bed heating/crystallizing unit. The ultimate goal of the project consisted in intensifying the process design by saving gas compression and thermal energy. The hydrodynamical findings of the squared modular unit were compared against several existing correlations: Manurung's equations for the maximum pressure drop and the pressure drop at stable spouting required a minimal alteration; Mathur and Gishler's equation properly fitted the experimental minimum spouting velocity. The continuously operating multiple spouting apparatus showed that regulating the solids level was an issue mainly due to the very large particle throughput, if related to the mixing efficiency of each module; reciprocal interference between spouted bed cells was manifested.