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Packed Bed Column
Packed Bed Column - Introduction
 Packed bed columns use absorption to remove
contaminants such as corrosive gaseous
emissions, acidic fumes, and various odors.
 Packed beds are used to clean gas streams. Here,
gases flow up through the packed bed and the
scrubbing liquid flows down the bed.
 Contaminants are transferred from the gas
stream to the liquid stream. The packing
provides a large surface area for gas to liquid
mass transfer to occur.
Equipment Design
 A packed bed column contains a support plate, a
liquid distributor, and a mist eliminator.
 The liquid stream flows through a liquid
distributor and down the column due to gravity,
resulting in counter-flow, cross-flow, or co-
current flow.
 Contaminants are transferred from the vapor to
the liquid, due to equilibrium or kinetic
mechanisms, with the packing providing contact
between phases for this transfer.
Equipment Design
 Mist eliminators are used to condense any vaporized scrubbing
liquid. Support plates hold the packing in place within the
 The liquid streams flow through distributors to avoid
channeling, the uneven distribution of liquid, which can reduce
the transfer of the gas contaminant to the liquid.
 The outer shells can be made out of fiberglass- reinforced
plastic, stainless steel, high-nickel alloys, non-ferrous metals, or
 The inside packing can be made of metals, ceramics, or plastics.
Inert ceramics and plastics are commonly used when operating
with corrosive substances.
 The packing can be dumped(random) or structured.
 Packed beds are most commonly used in
 Air pollution control
 Chemical
 Petrochemical
 Food
 Pharmaceutical
 Paper
 Aerospace industries.
 Low pressure drop required.
 Small diameters possible.
 Can handle foaming systems.
 Low capital, operating, and maintenance cost.
 Simple construction.
 Can handle corrosive materials due to corrosion-
resistant packing.
 Reduces backmixing in comparison to spray
 Better mass transfer than in spray columns.
 Fewer stages compared to other columns.
 Channeling, which must be controlled by
redistributing liquid.
 Cannot handle extremely high or low flow
 Cannot handle liquids with high viscosities.
 Need to be preferentially wetted to avoid
reduction of the interfacial area to volume
Spray Columns
Spray columns – Introduction and
 Spray columns are differential contactors,
and as such they use continuous contact
between the two phases, as opposed to the
stages used in staged contactors.
 Usage Examples
 One example of a spray column is in the
absorption of sulfur dioxide from coal-fired
boiler exhaust gases.
Equipment Design
 Here, the liquid stream enters the column
through spray nozzles. Nozzles can be placed
at different heights in the column.
 The droplets that form provide a large surface
area for exposure to the gas stream; smaller
droplets result in a greater exchange area.
 Gas flows counter-currently with respect to
the liquid. The gas could also flow co-
currently with the liquid.
Equipment Design
 Low droplet velocities may lead to low
contact or turbulence, and high droplet
velocities may cause flooding. Therefore, an
optimum droplet velocity is essential.
 A mist eliminator is used to separate any
liquid that is entrained into the gaseous
Advantages and Disadvantages
 Advantages
 Low pressure drop.
 Only one stage.
 Most effective for solutes with high liquid solubility
 Disadvantages
 High pumping cost.
 Entrainment; gas carries liquid as mist.
 Poor mass transfer.
 Low residence times.
 Backmixing.
 Droplets may form improperly or coalesce.
Falling Film Absorber
Falling film absorbers – Introduction
and Equipment Design
 Falling film absorbers are differential
contactors, and are mainly used when a large
amount of heat is removed during absorption.
 Falling film absorbers are also vertical shell
and tube heat exchangers.
 Here, the cooling medium falls through the
absorber and the vapor rises through the tubes
whereas the solvent falls through the tubes
Falling film absorbers – Introduction
and Equipment Design
 The solvent enters at the top and falls down
the tube as a film.
 Gas enters at the bottom or top to produce
counter-current or co-current flow.
 The absorption of contaminants from the gas
to the solvent depends on gas velocity,
liquid-gas distribution, and the tube surface
 Low pressure drop.
 Minimal static head and residence time.
 Ideal for heat-sensitive fluids.
 Easy cleanup.
 Continuous heat removal.
 Flooding.
 Restricted by pressure drop.
 Film breakup.
 Need continuous heat removal.
 Evaporation may deteriorate components.
 Liquid must be uniformly supplied.
Bubble Column
Bubble Columns – Introduction and Equipment Design

 Bubble columns are a type of sparged tank. In a

sparged tank, the gas stream is introduced in the
form of small bubbles and acts as the agitator.
 Here, gas enters at the bottom through a gas
distributor or sparger, and is dispersed in the form
of bubbles through the liquid stream.
 The liquid can be introduced at the top or the
bottom, resulting in either counter-flow or co-
current flow, respectively.
Bubble Columns – Introduction and
Equipment Design
 The bubbles rise at a velocity determined by
the bubble size: the larger the bubbles, the
faster they rise.
 Spargers are designed to produce consistent
bubble sizes, so that all the bubbles rise at
the same velocity.
 The bubbles may contain entrained liquid,
which may result in more hold up at high
 Bubble columns can be used
 To purify nitroglycerin with water;
 In the chemical industry for hydrogenation,
oxidation, chlorination, and alkylation;
 In the biotechnology field for effluent treatment,
single-cell protein production, animal cell
culture, and antibiotic fermentation.
 Bubble columns can be used for radioactive
elements because there are no moving parts.
 High thermal stability.
 Uniform distribution because of high liquid circulation.
 Low energy input requirements.
 Two gases that form an explosive mixture may be used.
 Long liquid residence time.
 Low investment cost.
 Large mass transfer area.
 Can handle radioactive materials because there are no
moving parts.
 Low contact efficiency.
 Backmixing.
 Short gas residence time.
 High gas pressure drop.
Tray Column
Tray Column - Introduction
 In a tray column, the vapor stream flows up
through the trays and contacts the down-
flowing liquid stream which causes the
absorption of the red contaminant.
 The equipment used is similar to that used in
distillation columns.
Equipment Design
 The geometry of the trays within the column
affects the extent and type of contact
between the vapor and liquid streams.
 The different tray types include sieve, valve,
and bubble cap.
 Sieve trays contain holes for vapor to flow
 Valve trays are similar, containing holes
with opening and closing valves.
Equipment Design
 Bubble cap trays contain caps that allow
vapor to flow through tiny openings through
the liquid.
 After the feed mixture enters the column, it
flows down the column and across the trays
in either cross flow or counter-flow.
 In cross flow columns, downcomers channel
the liquid flowing from one tray down to the
tray below.
Applications and Advantages
 Common applications include removal of micron-sized
particles and volatile organic compounds.
 Advantages
 The liquid/vapor contact in the cross flow of plate
columns is more effective than the countercurrent flow
in packed columns.
 Can handle high or low liquid flow rates cost
 Can handle solids.
 Easily customized to specific requirements such as
operations requiring much heat.
 Higher pressure drops than packed columns.
 Slow reaction rate processes.
 Plugging and fouling may occur.
Centrifugal Absorber
Centrifugal Absorber – Equipment
 A set of stationary concentric rings intermeshes with a second
set of rings attached to a rotating plate. Liquid fed to the
centre of the plate.
 The centrifugal absorber is carried up the first ring, splashes
over to the baffle and falls into the through between the rings.
 It then runs up the second ring and in a similar way passes
from ring to ring through the unit.
 The gas stream can be introduced at the top to give cocurrent
flow, or at the bottom if countercurrent flow is desired.
 The depth of the ring is not very important because most of
the transfer takes place at the top of the rings as the gas is
mixed with the liquid spray.
Advantages and Disadvantages
 Advantages:-
 Used for highly viscous liquids.
 Used for foamy liquids.
 Provides good contact between two phases.
 Disadvantages:-
 Operating and initial costs are very high.