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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Experimental and computational study of mixing behavior in stirred tanks equipped with side entry impellers Sossa, Jaime Alberto


The wide applicability of mechanically stirred tanks in industry demands a comprehensive understanding of the physical and chemical phenomena controlling the performance of these fundamental units. The rheological complexity of some industrial fluids can create unfavorable mixing environments like dead zones that limit the contact area among the components being mixed. Also, the complex three dimensional nature of the flow generated by the impellers makes difficult the prediction of the flow properties, especially when the fluid viscosity is a function of the shear rate. Some research groups have investigated mixing flow of these kinds of fluids in conventional stirred tanks with top-entry impellers. But, little has been done to characterize the flow behavior in tanks with side-entry impellers. In order to improve our understanding and provide insight into the flow mixing occurring in stirred tanks with side entry impellers, the flow field generated by different impellers in scale-down vessels filled with glycerine and carbopol solutions, was studied using the flow visualization technique, particle image velocimetry (PIV). Moreover, a computational model was built to predict flow variables and mixing characteristics unattainable with the experimental technique. The capabilities of the model were evaluated based on the velocity fields obtained experimentally. Good agreement was found between the predicted and measured macroscale flow structures and global mixing parameters. However, the models were unable to predict the symmetric flow observed during the experiments at high rotational speeds, likely due to the approach taken to simulate the flow, which provides a steady state velocity profile for one specific impeller location Overall the results showed the formation of dead zones and segregated regions when mixing the non-Newtonian solutions. The size of the dynamic regions and the average velocity near the impeller were improved by increasing the suction area. Likewise, large pitch ratios were found to enhance the active mixing zone and the axial discharge. While, radial discharge and a strong tangential flow arose when the viscous forces dominate the flow. In conclusion, the flow features were defined by the Reynolds number in the vicinity of the impeller and the restrictions imposed by the walls of the vessel.

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