Flow patterns on sieve trays
Studies into gas-liquid flow patterns were carried out on commercial scale sieve trays where the ratio of froth depth to flow path length is typical of that found in practice. Experiments were conducted on a 2.44 m diameter air-water distillation simulator, in which flow patterns were investigated by direct observation, using directional flow pointers; by water cooling, to simulate mass transfer; and by height of clear liquid measurements across the tray. The flow rates used are typical of those found in practice. The approach adopted was to investigate the effect of the gas flow on the liquid flow by comparing water only flow patterns across an unperforated tray with air-water flow patterns on perforated trays. Initial gas-liquid contacting experiments on the 6.35 mm hole tray showed that, under certain conditions, the gas flow pattern beneath the test tray can have a significant effect on the tray liquid flow pattern such that gas-driven liquid circulation was produced. This was found to be a function of this particular air-water simulator design, and as far as is known this is the first time that this phenomenon has been observed. Consequently non-uniform gas flow effects were removed by modification of the gas distribution system. By eliminating gas circulation effects, the effect of the gas flow on the separation of liquid flow was similar to that obtained on the 1.0 mm hole tray (Hine, 1990). That is, flow separation occurred at the ends of the inlet downcomer which produced large circulating zones along the tray segments both on the non-perforated and perforated trays. The air when forced through the liquid, inhibited circulating flow such that it only occurred at high water inlet velocities. With the 6.35 mm hole tray, the growth and velocity of circulating flow was reduced at high superficial air velocities, and in the experiments to simulate distillation, liquid was in forward flow over most of the tray.