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Development of novel computational fluid dynamics and discrete element models for the intensification of chemical processes

Bruno Blais
Polytechnique Montreal
Wednesday, November 20, 2019 - 14:00

Many industries, ranging from petrochemicals to agro-processing, are striving to decrease their dependence on non-renewable energy and operating volumes while improving process yields, cost- effectiveness, and safety. This can be achieved through process intensification (PI) [1]. By developing new multifunctional unit operations that combine multiple functions (e.g., a catalyst that also acts as a static mixer) or that use alternative energy sources (e.g., microwaves or centrifugal forces), intensified processes can offer full-scale performance at pilot scale by enhancing mass and heat transfer [1–6]. It is crucial to reduce the time-to-market of intensified processes [7]. Experimentation and rapid prototyping are expensive and generally do not provide adequate insights into local mass, momentum, and heat transfer profiles. Simulations can be leveraged to unlock the potential of PI of processes and unit operations [2].
In this talk, we present the work carried out in our research unit towards development of tailored models for the optimization and intensification of industrial process. This is illustrated through three major case studies:

• The modeling of dense granular flows by Discrete Element Method (DEM) based models
• The combination of Computational Fluid Dynamics and DEM for the study of dense suspensions
• The development of pressure-enrichment conformal decomposition methods for free surface flows

For each case study aforementioned, we discuss the rationale behind the model development as well as the verification and validation procedure. We conclude our talk by a discussion on our future project concerning the development of a high-order computational fluid dynamics and discrete element method platform for turbulent single phase and solid-fluid flows.


[1] A. I. Stankiewicz, J. A. Moulijn, Chem. Eng. Prog. 2000, 96, 22.
[2] C. Gourdon, S. Elgue, L. Prat, Oil Gas Sci. Technol. – Rev. d’IFP Energies Nouv. 2015, 70, 463.
[3] Á. Martín, A. Navarrete, Curr. Opin. Green Sustain. Chem. 2018, 11, 70.
[4] S. Ferrouillat, P. Tochon, C. Garnier, H. Peerhossaini, Appl. Therm. Eng. 2006, 26, 1820.
[5] T. Van Gerven, A. Stankiewicz, Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 2009, 48, 2465.
[6] J. A. Moulijn, A. Stankiewicz, Encycl. Sustain. Technol. 2017, 509.
[7] F. J. Keil, Rev. Chem. Eng. 2018, 34, 135.

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