Multiphase flows are ubiquitous in chemical, materials, mineral, energy, environmental and food processing industries. Our traditional approach has been to ignore fluid dynamical effects by invoking simplifying assumptions of homogeneity, but pay the price during scale-up of processes through pilot scale experiments. The question that I address in this presentation is “Can Advanced Multiphase flow modeling come to our rescue in minimizing the need for pilot scale experiments, On the fundamental side, advanced algorithms for direct numerical simulation (DNS) and Discrete Particle Modelling (DPM) of multiphase flows aid in detailed understanding but for limited size. For dispersed rigid particles the Navier-Stokes equations are coupled with the rigid body dynamics in a rigorous fashion to track the particle motion in a fluid. These classes of algorithms show great promise in attempting to shed light on multiphase flows with many particles, from which we can extract statistically meaningful average behavior of suspensions.
On the other hand, there is an immediate need to study flow of complex fluids of industrial importance. Such cases include the catalytic reactions in multiphase reactors, oil spill modelling, polymer blending processes involving melting, deformation and break-up, corrosion-erosion in pipelines and process vessels, hydrotransport, mass transfer in packed beds with random and structured packings or in Sieve trays, flow assurance in pipelines etc. In such studies the volume averaged equations form the basis of flow models coupled with experimental validation of such predictions in an effort to develop scale invariant closure models that are needed as part of the volume averaged flow models. We will discuss the merit of this approach and the synergy between these two approaches.
At LSU we have started an EPIC industrial research consortium that integrates multiphase flow modelling with process diagnostics, intensification studies and optimization and control as applied to the petroleum, chemical and renewable energy industries. Case studies of industrial relevance will be presented to illustrate the benefits of such an approach.