Identify the gas and solid flow structures within bubbling fluidized beds by using the PEPT technique
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Fluidized beds have been applied in many industrial processes (e.g. coal combustion, gasification and granulation) as an effective means for providing excellent gas and solids contact and mixing, as well as good heat transfer. Although research on the fluidized bed has been carried out for more than 70 years, uncertainties and difficulties still remain. These challenges exist primarily due to the complex and dynamic flow structure within fluidized beds and the lack of reliable measurement techniques. The positron emission particle tracking (PEPT) technique, developed at the University of Birmingham, enables individual particles to be tracked non-invasively in opaque three-dimensional (3-D) fluidized beds and offers favourable temporal and spatial resolutions. PEPT is considered to be a powerful tool for fluidized bed studies and was utilized in the current study to investigate the dynamic behaviour of solid and gas in fluidized beds. The experiments in this study were conducted in a 150-mm inner diameter (I.D.) column and operated in the bubbling fluidization regime at ambient conditions. The effects of various factors on the solid flow structure were examined: solid properties, superficial gas velocity, bed height-to-diameter aspect ratio (H/D) and pore size of the air distributor. The solid flow structure was classified into four patterns, namely patterns A, B, C and D, in which pattern C was newly observed in this thesis. The solid motion, bubble behaviour (i.e., bubble spatial distribution, bubble size and bubble rise velocity) and solid mixing were assessed for each flow pattern to understand their unique fluidization behaviours. This assessment was achieved by the development of three methods: a method to reconstruct bubble behaviours based on solid motion, and two methods for estimating the solid mixing profile in this thesis. The results were discussed and compared with the published literature. The bubble rise velocity and bubble size calculated in this research from the PEPT-measured data was in agreement with other research, particularly that of Kunii and Levenspiel, Yasui and Johanson, and Mori and Wen. Finally, a parameter was developed to predict and control flow patterns based on particle kinetic energy and various factors. The outcomes of this study advance the understanding of the complicated dynamics of bubbling fluidized beds and may benefit several industries in the enhancement of fluidized bed design and control to achieve desirable qualities and efficiencies.