Investigating viscous fluid flow in an internal mixer using computational fluid dynamics
This thesis presents an effective methodology for the generation of a simulation which can be used to increase the understanding of viscous fluid processing equipment and aid in their development, design and optimisation. The Hampden RAPRA Torque Rheometer internal batch twin rotor mixer has been simulated with a view to establishing model accuracies, limitations, practicalities and uses. As this research progressed, via the analyses several 'snap-shot' analysis of several rotor configurations using the commercial code Polyflow, it was evident that the model was of some worth and its predictions are in good agreement with the validation experiments, however, several major restrictions were identified. These included poor element form, high man-hour requirements for the construction of each geometry and the absence of the transient term in these models. All, or at least some, of these limitations apply to the numerous attempts to model internal mixes by other researchers and it was clear that there was no generally accepted methodology to provide a practical three-dimensional model which has been adequately validated. This research, unlike others, presents a full complex three-dimensional, transient, non-isothermal, generalised non-Newtonian simulation with wall slip which overcomes these limitations using unmatched ridding and sliding mesh technology adapted from CFX codes. This method yields good element form and, since only one geometry has to be constructed to represent the entire rotor cycle, is extremely beneficial for detailed flow field analysis when used in conjunction with user defined programmes and automatic geometry parameterisation (AGP), and improves accuracy for investigating equipment design and operation conditions. Model validation has been identified as an area which has been neglected by other researchers in this field, especially for time dependent geometries, and has been rigorously pursued in terms of qualitative and quantitative velocity vector analysis of the isothermal, full fill mixing of generalised non-Newtonian fluids, as well as torque comparison, with a relatively high degree of success. This indicates that CFD models of this type can be accurate and perhaps have not been validated to this extent previously because of the inherent difficulties arising from most real processes.