Heat and Mass Transfer

, Volume 54, Issue 2, pp 453–461 | Cite as

Characterizing fluid dynamics in a bubble column aimed for the determination of reactive mass transfer

  • Péter Kováts
  • Dominique Thévenin
  • Katharina Zähringer


Bubble column reactors are multiphase reactors that are used in many process engineering applications. In these reactors a gas phase comes into contact with a fluid phase to initiate or support reactions. The transport process from the gas to the liquid phase is often the limiting factor. Characterizing this process is therefore essential for the optimization of multiphase reactors. For a better understanding of the transfer mechanisms and subsequent chemical reactions, a laboratory-scale bubble column reactor was investigated. First, to characterize the flow field in the reactor, two different methods have been applied. The shadowgraphy technique is used for the characterisation of the bubbles (bubble diameter, velocity, shape or position) for various process conditions. This technique is based on particle recognition with backlight illumination, combined with particle tracking velocimetry (PTV). The bubble trajectories in the column can also be obtained in this manner. Secondly, the liquid phase flow has been analysed by particle image velocimetry (PIV). The combination of both methods, delivering relevant information concerning disperse (bubbles) and continuous (liquid) phases, leads to a complete fluid dynamical characterization of the reactor, which is the pre-condition for the analysis of mass transfer between both phases.


Bubble column reactor CO2 PIV Shadowgraphy Two-phase flow Two-tracer-LIF 


de [mm]

equivalent bubble diameter

dB [mm]

equivalent mean bubble diameter

UB [m/s]

absolute rising velocity of single bubbles

UB,mean [m/s]

absolute, mean rising velocity of bubbles

fB [1/s]

bubble formation frequency

VB [mm3]

bubble mean volume

AB [mm2]

bubble mean surface area

VL [m/s]

mean liquid velocity

Dimensionless numbers


bubble centricity


Eötvös number


Froude number around a bubble


Froude number in the column


Morton number


Reynolds number around a bubble


Reynolds number in the column


Weber number around a bubble


Weber number in the column



This work has been financially supported by the German research foundation (DFG) in the framework of the SPP 1740 “Reactive Bubbly Flows” under project number ZA-527/1-1.

The authors would also like to thank the students Niklas Brandt and Tim André Kulbeik for their help in doing the experiments. The help of C. Kisow and S. Herbst for building the bubble column is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Fluid Dynamics and Technical FlowsOtto-von-Guericke-Universität MagdeburgMagdeburgGermany

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