A Study of Heat and Mass Transfer in Porous Sorbent Particles

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Virginia Tech

This dissertation presents a detailed account of the study undertaken on the subject of heat and mass transfer phenomena in porous media. The current work specifically targets the general reaction-diffusion systems arising in separation processes using porous sorbent particles. These particles are comprised of pore channels spanning length scales over almost three orders of magnitude while involving a variety of physical processes such as mass diffusion, heat transfer and surface adsorption-desorption. A novel methodology is proposed in this work that combines models that account for the multi-scale and multi-physics phenomena involved. Pore-resolving DNS calculations using an immersed boundary method (IBM) framework are used to simulate the macro-scale physics while the phenomena at smaller scales are modeled using a sub-pore modeling technique.

The IBM scheme developed as part of this work is applicable to complex geometries on curvilinear grids, while also being very efficient, consuming less than 1% of the total simulation time per time-step. A new method of implementing the conjugate heat transfer (CHT) boundary condition is proposed which is a direct extension of the method used for other boundary conditions and does not involve any complex interpolations like previous CHT implementations using IBM. Detailed code verification and validation studies are carried out to demonstrate the accuracy of the developed method.

The developed IBM scheme is used in conjunction with a stochastic reconstruction procedure based on simulated annealing. The developed framework is tested in a two-dimensional channel with two types of porous sections - one created using a random assembly of square blocks and another using the stochastic reconstruction procedure. Numerous simulations are performed to demonstrate the capability of the developed framework. The computed pressure drops across the porous section are compared with predictions from the Darcy-Forchheimer equation for media composed of different structure sizes. The developed methodology is also applied to CO2 diffusion studies in porous spherical particles of varying porosities.

For the pore channels that are unresolved by the IBM framework, a sub-pore modeling methodology developed as part of this work which solves a one-dimensional unsteady diffusion equation in a hierarchy of scales represented by a fractal-type geometry. The model includes surface adsorption-desorption, and heat generation and absorption. It is established that the current framework is useful and necessary for reaction-diffusion problems in which the adsorption time scales are very small (diffusion-limited) or comparable to the diffusion time scales. Lastly, parametric studies are conducted for a set of diffusion-limited problems to showcase the powerful capability of the developed methodology.

Immersed boundary method, Conjugate heat transfer, Porous media, Reaction-diffusion system, Heat and species diffusion, Surface adsorption kinetics