UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Analysis of the Hydrodynamic Effects of Gas Permeation in a Pilot-Scale Fluidized Bed Membrane Reactor Bai, Chenxi; Xiao, Yao; Peng, Ruifeng; Grace, John R.; Chen, Yumin

Abstract

This study experimentally investigates the effects of gas extraction/addition, via multiple vertical membrane panels, on the hydrodynamics in different regions of a pilot-scale gas fluidized bed membrane reactor (FBMR), based on differential pressure signals measured at different vertical bed sections at high temperature. In a bed section where membrane panels were installed and activated, the extraction of gas caused the average bubble size to increase, but decreased the number of small- and medium-sized bubbles. This effect of gas extraction penetrated into bed sections above the active membrane panel, but attenuated with increasing distance away from the extraction location. The attenuation rate was much faster in FBMR with lower bed voidage, mainly due to the large decrease of the drag force exerted by gas extraction on fluidizing gas in a denser bed. With the same inlet gas velocity, gas addition favored the growth of bubbles, especially in the upper bed sections compared with operation without gas permeation. The increase of the effective fluidizing velocity was the major reason for the increase of the bubble size during gas addition. These findings preliminarily suggest that membrane units should not be installed in or below fast-reacting zones in a scale-up FBMR, and operation with a lower bed voidage is preferable to avoid the formation of large bubbles enhanced by gas extraction.

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