Micromixing enhancement by turbulence: Application to multifunctional heat exchangers
CHEMICAL ENGINEERING AND PROCESSING-PROCESS INTENSIFICATION
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Compact heat exchangers are well-known for their ability to transfer large amounts of heat while retaining low volume and weight. This paper studies the use of this device as a chemical reactor, generally called a heat exchanger reactor (HEX reactor). Indeed, the question arises: can these geometries combine heat transfer and mixing in the same device? Such a technology would offer many advantages, such as better reaction control (through the thermal aspect), improved selectivity (through intensified mixing, more isothermal operation and shorter residence time, and sharper residence-time distribution), byproduct reduction, and enhanced safety. Several geometries of compact heat exchanger based on turbulence generation are available. This paper focuses on two types: offset strip fins (OSFs) and metallic foams. Our main objective is to contribute to the estimation of micromixing generated by these geometries by using an experimental method based on a unique parallel-competing reaction scheme proposed by Villermaux et al. The micromixing time, estimated according to the incorporation model, lets us compare the micromixing levels generated by duct channel, OSFs and metallic foams at volume flow rates ranging from 1 to 350 1 h(-1). The metallic foam concept is found to be very efficient in micromixing enhancement. Furthermore, OSFs make it possible to generate micromixing levels ranging between the duct channel and metallic foam level. Moreover, the results show that the fin micromixing level increases with fin thickness and ligament diameter. Finally, in an HEX reactor application, the residence time of chemical reactants must be considered in order to choose the best geometry for intensifying mass and heat transfer. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.