Liquid-liquid extraction in a pilot scale rotating disc contactor
A study of the hydrodynamics and mass transfer characteristics of a liquid-liquid extraction process in a 450 mm diameter, 4.30 m high Rotating Disc Contactor (R.D.C.) has been undertaken. The literature relating to this type of extractor and the relevant phenomena, such as droplet break-up and coalescence, drop mass transfer and axial mixing has been revjewed. Experiments were performed using the system C1airsol-350-acetone-water and the effects of drop size, drop size-distribution and dispersed phase hold-up on the performance of the R.D.C. established. The results obtained for the two-phase system C1airso1-water have been compared with published correlations: since most of these correlations are based on data obtained from laboratory scale R.D.C.'s, a wide divergence was found. The hydrodynamics data from this study have therefore been correlated to predict the drop size and the dispersed phase hold-up and agreement has been obtained with the experimental data to within +8% for the drop size and +9% for the dispersed phase hold-up. The correlations obtained were modified to include terms involving column dimensions and the data have been correlated with the results obtained from this study together with published data; agreement was generally within +17% for drop size and within +14% for the dispersed phase hold-up. The experimental drop size distributions obtained were in excellent agreement with the upper limit log-normal distributions which should therefore be used in preference to other distribution functions. In the calculation of the overall experimental mass transfer coefficient the mean driving force was determined from the concentration profile along the column using Simpson's Rule and a novel method was developed to calculate the overall theoretical mass transfer coefficient Kca1, involving the drop size distribution diagram to determine the volume percentage of stagnant, circulating and oscillating drops in the sample population. Individual mass transfer coefficients were determined for the corresponding droplet state using different single drop mass transfer models. Kca1 was then calculated as the fractional sum of these individual coefficients and their proportions in the drop sample population. Very good agreement was found between the experimental and theoretical overall mass transfer coefficients. Drop sizes under mass transfer conditions were strongly dependant upon the direction of mass transfer. Drop Sizes in the absence of mass transfer were generally larger than those with solute transfer from the continuous to the dispersed phase, but smaller than those with solute transfer in the opposite direction at corresponding phase flowrates and rotor speed. Under similar operating conditions hold-up was also affected by mass transfer; it was higher when solute transfered from the continuous to the dispersed phase and lower when direction was reversed compared with non-mass transfer operation.