Hydrodynamics and heat transfer in shallow fluidized beds

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The use of shallow fluidized beds for heat exchange has been suggested because they give high bed-to-surface heat transfer rate and require very low bed pressure. However, in comparison with research on deep fluidized beds, only relatively few studies have been devoted to heat transfer in shallow beds, and results from the available literature are often inconsistent. This study represents an integrated research on the hydrodynamics and bed-to-surface heat transfer in shallow beds. The results from this study provide the quantitative basis for the design and efficient operation of shallow fluidized-bed heat-recovery systems.

Based upon their physical appearance, shallow fluidized beds have been categorized into nine different types. A "phase diagram" (plot of superficial gas velocity versus static bed height) can be used to delineate the ranges of fluidization variables within which each type of shallow beds will be seen.

Pressure-drop data in gas flowing upward through a shallow bed reflect pressure recovery in jets formed immediately above a gas distributor at the bottom of the bed. Pressure-recovery data provide an effective means of distinguishing a shallow bed from a deep one, and suggest that the power consumption across a fluidized bed can be reduced dramatically by dividing a single deep bed into many multi-staged shallow beds.

A computerized light probe has been developed for measurements of particle volume-fraction distribution and its statical fluctuation (standard deviation). These data have been shown to quantitatively define: (1) different types of shallow beds; (2) relative magnitude of solid mixing; (3) bed surface and bed height; and (4) jet penetration depth.

Based upon observations of the hydrodynamic behavior of shallow fluidized beds, three regions can be identified for heat-transfer applications: a jet-affected region at the bottom, a free-board region at the top, and, sandwiched between theses, a homogeneous region. Only heat-transfer data in the homogeneous region are sufficiently well-behaved to be subjected to quantitative correlation in terms of fluidization variables. For relatively coarse particles (Geldart's Group B particles) the vigor of solid mixing can be the most important factor in affecting the heat-transfer performance. Bed voidage and static electricity effects are found to be important for smaller and/or lighter particles (i.e., Geldart's Group A particles).