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Influence of particle size distribution on the performance of fluidized bed reactors Sun, Guanglin


The effect of particle size distribution (PSD) on the performance of a fluidized bed reactor was investigated using the ozone decomposition reaction, combined with the study of hydrodynamics, for fresh and spent fluid cracking catalysts, each having three particle size distributions - wide, narrow and bimodal - all with nearly the same mean diameter (60 µm), the same particle density and the same BET surface area. The superficial gas velocity was varied from 0.1 to 1.8 m/s to include the bubbling, slugging, turbulent and fast fluidization regimes. The catalytic rate constant, based on the volume of the particles, ranged from 2 to10 s⁻¹, while the static bed height was varied from 0.15 m to 1 m. Four different multi-orifice gas distributors with different hole diameters (2.2 to 5.1 mm) and hole numbers (4 and 21) were also tested to evaluate the influence of gas distributor on the performance of fluidized bed reactors. The particle size distribution was found to play a larger role at higher gas velocities than at lower velocities. At low gas velocities (Uf ≤ 0.2 m/s), the reaction conversion was not greatly affected by the PSD. However, with an increase in gas velocity the PSD effect became larger. The wide size distribution gave the highest reactor efficiency, defined as the ratio of the volume of catalyst required in a plug flow reactor to that required in the fluidized bed reactor to achieve the same conversion, while the narrow blend gave the lowest. The differences are not solely a function of the "fines content". The influence of particle size distribution on the hydrodynamics of fluidization was evaluated by measuring particle concentrations in voids, bubble sizes, and dense phase expansion. When the superficial gas velocity exceeded 0.1 m/s, the bed with the wide size distribution usually gave the highest particle concentration inside the voids, the smallest bubble size and the greatest dense phase expansion at the same operating conditions. There is evidence that there is a greater proportion of "fines" present in the voids than in the overall particle size distribution. This has been explained in terms of the throughflow velocity inside bubbles being of the same order as the terminal velocity of typical "fines", causing these particles to spend longer periods of time inside the voids. The effect of the PSD on the fluidization regime and its transitions was determined by measuring pressure fluctuations along the column. The earliest transition from bubbling or slugging to turbulent fluidization occurred in the bed of wide size distribution, while the latest corresponded to the narrow PSD. For particles of wide size distribution, higher conversion was achieved for the turbulent and fast fluidization regimes than for the bubbling fluidization regime under otherwise identical conditions, while for particles of narrow size distribution, the dependence of conversion on regime was small. Hence, for reactors of wide PSD, the performance can be improved significantly by operating in the turbulent or fast fluidization regime, while for particles of narrow size distribution, the benefit of operating at high gas velocity is slight at best. The PSD influence should be considered in modelling fluidized bed reactors. The "Two-Phase Bubbling Bed Model" has been modified to account for PSD effects. For the reactor of wide particle size distribution operated at high gas velocities, a single-phase axial dispersion model with closed inlet and open outlet boundary conditions appears to be suitable to predict the performance. It was also found that a high pressure drop across the gas distributor was not sufficient to maintain good performance of the distributor. The reactor efficiency in the entry region was higher for a distributor with a greater number of orifices, even though it had a lower pressure drop, than for a distributor plate with fewer larger holes.

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