The Study of Liquid/Vapour Interaction Inside a Falling Film Evaporator in the Dairy Industry
Thesis DisciplineChemical Engineering
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Evaporation is used in the dairy industry to reduce the production costs of powder production (including milk powder) as it is more energy efficient to remove water by evaporation than by drying. There are significant economic reasons why gaining a greater understanding of the complex interactions occurring between the liquid and vapour phases in evaporators is advantageous. The multiphase flows in industrial dairy falling film evaporators were studied. Several computational fluid dynamic (CFD) models were created using Ansys CFX 10. Two case studies were chosen. The first case involved modelling the dispersed droplets that require separation from the water vapour evaporated from the feed of the evaporator. The CFD results were able to show that fouling was not caused by a lack of separation. The predicted separation agreed with experimental measurements. The atomisation process was found to be critical in the prediction of the separation. The atomisation process is not well understood and introduced the greatest error to the model. A plug flow assumption is currently used as a basis for the design the separators. The CFD solutions found no validity to this assumption. The second case study aimed to model and solve the distribution of the feed into the heat transfer tubes at the top of the falling film evaporators. The goal of this study was to be able to accurately predict wetting of the tubes. The volume of fluid (VOF) method using the continuum surface force method (CSF) to account for surface tension was chosen to model the system. The poor curvature estimate of the CSF method was found to produce parasitic currents that limited the stability of the solutions. Small VOF timesteps prevented the solver from diverging and the parasitic currents would oscillate the interface around the correct location. The small timesteps required significantly more computational power than was available and the model for the distribution process could not be solved. The CSF VOF method showed considerable promise, particularly because it can predict free surface topography without user input. There are still questions about numerical creeping of films, but the method was able to correctly predict several different surface tension and contact angle dominated film flows expected to be needed to accurately model the distribution of the falling film evaporator. Validated solutions of jet, meniscus, sessile, "overfall" and 3-D weir models were obtained and these agreed with published results in literature. A 2-D weir solution showed qualitative agreement with the expected form of the film. A 2-D hydraulic jump model without surface tension was created and agreed with experimental work in the literature to within 22%. The 3-D hydraulic jump solution only showed partial agreement with published experimental, the solutions were not mesh independent and not well converged so few conclusions can be drawn. The solutions of a rivulet model showed qualitative similarities with experimental work. The predicted wetting rate did not agree with values in the published literature because the spatial domain modelled was believed to be too narrow. An extended model of rivulet flow agreed with the idealised rivulet profile in literature and the predicted wetting rate agreed with some of the published literature. Again the solutions were not mesh independent so few conclusions can be confirmed.