Enhancing hollow fibre ultrafiltration using slug-flow - A hydrodynamic study
Smith S., Taha T., Cui Z.
Gas-liquid slug flow is commonly employed as an enhancement technique for cross-flow ultrafiltration. This technique worked well on flat sheet and larger diameter membrane modules, but hydrodynamics and mass transfer, hence optimal operation, differs for the smaller diameter hollow fibre membranes where the technique proved less effective. This study investigates slug-flow hydrodynamics in capillary tubes in order to characterise the flow and predict optimal operation in hollow fibre membranes. Experiments investigated the effect of bubble size, bubble-supply frequency, operating pressure and capillary diameter on bubble shape and rise-velocity in non-porous tubes of 0.89 mm bore. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) was employed to predict the flow behaviour inside capillaries. The CFD model and experimental results compared well. The CFD model yielded detailed information of the flow parameters and the flow patterns inside the capillaries and this allowed for better understanding of the hydrodynamics of the capillary tube slug-flow process.