The use of flow control devices to improve the flow pattern and throughput of sieve trays
Compared to packings trays are more cost effective column internals because they create a large interfacial area for mass transfer by the interaction of the vapour on the liquid. The tray supports a mass of froth or spray which on most trays (including the most widely used sieve trays) is not in any way controlled. The two important results of the gas/liquid interaction are the tray efficiency and the tray throughput or capacity. After many years of practical experience, both may be predicted by empirical correlations, despite the lack of understanding. It is known that the tray efficiency is in part determined by the liquid flow pattern and the throughput by the liquid froth height which in turn depends on the liquid hold-up and vapour velocity. This thesis describes experimental work on sieve trays in an air-water simulator, 2.44 m in diameter. The liquid flow pattern, for flow rates similar to those used in commercial scale distillation, was observed experimentally by direct observation; by water-cooling, to simulate mass transfer; use of potassium permanganate dye to observe areas of longer residence time; and by height of clear liquid measurements across the tray and in the downcomer using manometers. This work presents experiments designed to evaluate flow control devices proposed to improve the gas liquid interaction and hence improve the tray efficiency and throughput. These are (a) the use of intermediate weirs to redirect liquid to the sides of the tray so as to remove slow moving/stagnant liquid and (b) the use of vapour-directing slots designed to use the vapour to cause liquid to be directed towards the outlet weir thus reducing the liquid hold-up at a given rate i.e. increased throughput. This method also has the advantage of removing slow moving/stagnant liquid.