Inter-compartment interaction in multi-impeller mixing: Part I. Experiments and multiple reference frame CFD

Cees Haringa, Ruben Vandewijer, Robert F. Mudde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
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CFD simulations of mixing in single-phase multi-Rushton stirred tanks based on the RANS methodology frequently show an over-prediction of the mixing time. This hints at an under-prediction of the mass exchange between the compartments formed around the individual impellers. Some studies recommend tuning the turbulent Schmidt number to address this issue, but this appears to be an ad-hoc correction rather than physical adjustment, thereby compromising the predictive value of the method. In this work, we study the flow profile in between two Rushton impellers in stirred tank. The data hints at the presence of macro-instabilities, and a peak in turbulent kinetic energy in the region of convergent flow, which both may promote inter-compartment mass exchange. CFD studies using the steady-state multiple reference frame model (unsteady simulations are treated in part II) inherently fail to include the macro-instability, and underestimate the turbulent kinetic energy, thereby strongly over-estimating mixing time. Furthermore, the results are highly mesh-sensitive, with increasing mesh density leading to a poorer prediction of the mixing time. Despite proper results for 1-impeller studies, we do not deem MRF-RANS models suitable for mixing studies in multi-impeller geometries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)870-885
JournalChemical Engineering Research and Design
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • CFD
  • Macro instability
  • Mixing
  • Multiple impellers
  • Schmidt number

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