Computational Tools to Reduce Risk and Cost of Designing Multiphase Flow Reactors and Devices
Understanding the performance of energy, environmental and chemical process devices based on multiphase flow physics is very challenging. Having the means to impact their design early in the developmental process is critically important to control costs and reduce the risk of not meeting performance standards. About 75% of the manufacturing cost of any product is committed at the conceptual design stage, even when the incurred cost might be very small.Computational models can be used to simulate a multiphase device to help understand its performance before the design is finalized thereby reducing cost. Use of computational models is valuable when empirical scale up information is not available when reactors at the appropriate scale have not been built. Furthermore, it is well known that traditional scale up methods do not work well for multiphase flow reactors. All of these factors point toward the critical need for science-based models with quantified uncertainty for reducing the cost and time required for development of multiphase flow devices. NETL’s Multiphase Flow Science (MFS) research program is a strategic combination of computational and physical models of reacting multiphase flows whose purpose is to provide these validated science-based modeling tools.
MFS research at NETL is performed by a crosscutting team of engineers and scientists in NETL’s Office of Research and Development (ORD), skilled in development and application of multiphase computational fluid dynamics software and multiphase experimentation. ORD’s Multiphase Flow Team consists of 30 DOE and contractor researchers coming together from U.S. and International multiphase flow academic and industry research programs.
MFS research and development at NETL is funded by U.S. Department of Energy programs, primarily from the Office of Fossil Energy. The work emphasizes energy and environmental applications including: gasification, carbon capture using solid sorbents or liquid solvents, and chemical-looping combustion of gaseous and solid fuels. MFS research also supports DOE’s Office of Environmental Management for analysis of thermochemical processes for environmental remediation of radioactive wastes.
The MFS Program Combines Modeling & Experiments
MFS research and development combine development and application of multiphase computational fluid dynamic models with small-scale, well-resolved experiments to develop accurate models and to provide validated computational tools. These tools and experimental data are made available to the multiphase flow science community as open-source software and public domain datasets.
Central to NETL’s multiphase flow reactor modeling effort is the laboratory’s suite of multiphase computational fluid dynamics (CFD) code, called Multiphase Flow with Interphase eXchanges (MFIX). MFIX has been developed specifically for modeling reacting multiphase systems. This open-source suite of software tools has over three decades of development history and more than 6,600 registered users worldwide. This software has become the standard test bed for comparing, implementing, and evaluating multiphase flow constitutive models and has been applied to an extremely diverse range of applications involving multiphase flows. The successes achieved in modeling such complex problems have led to new and improved models that are now available to the modeling community, which feature greatly improved simulations of key attributes within multiphase flow systems such as complex heterogeneous chemical reactions, interphase drag, polydispersity, particle attrition, particle agglomeration, and other significant advances.