Multi-scale Modeling of Droplet’s Drying and Transport of Insoluble Solids, with Spray-drying Applications
Understanding the drying of droplets is of interest for processes such as spray drying, where particulate materials are produced by evaporating moisture. Even though spray-drying is a widely used method, there are still challenges, such as undesired agglomeration or controlling the morphology and size of the final dried product. This dissertation develops a physics based model that is used to examine the droplet dynamics and drying kinetics at large and small scales. In addition, the model simulates the internal motion of insoluble particles and is used to better understand particle formation during spray drying type processes.
The first part of this work examines the effect of droplet-droplet collisions on evaporation and the size distribution at a large scale. Droplet collision dynamics are implemented into an Eulerian-Lagrangian framework, where droplets are tracked in the Lagrangian frame, and the background gas is modeled as a continuum. The modeling framework includes fully coupled interphase heat and momentum transfer between the droplet and gas phases. Binary collision of droplets could result in coalescence, reduction in surface area, or separation of droplets, resulting in the generation of satellite droplets and an increase in total surface area. By capturing the change in size distribution due to the collision of particles, our results show a linear relationship between the Weber number and the evaporation rate at low droplet number densities. Further, it is shown that droplet number density is a critical factor influencing the evaporation rate. At high droplet number densities, the relationship between the evaporation rate and the Weber number becomes non-linear, and at extremely high droplet number densities, the evaporation rate decreases even at high Weber numbers.
In the next part of this dissertation, the drying of a single droplet containing insoluble solid particles is investigated. Using a volume-of-fluid framework coupled with the Lagrangian phase, we study the particle transport within a droplet, and how it is affected by airflow, phase properties (e.g., viscosity and density of each phase), surface tension, and evaporation. Unlike the traditional one-dimensional modeling approach, our multi-dimensional model can capture the generation of internal flow patterns due to shear flow and the accumulation of solid particles on the surface of the drying droplet. Our results show that the surface tension effect is more pronounced at larger droplet diameters and low airflow velocities. Our approach also provides a quantitative method for modeling crust growth and formation.
Our results show that increasing solids mass fraction, and decreasing particle diameter, slow down the internal transport of solid particles, leading to a more quick accumulation near the surface of the droplet. Further, despite the droplet undergoing a constant-rate drying stage, the accumulation of solids near the surface is non-linear. In addition, the inclusion of solids within the droplet drastically reshapes the formation of internal vortices compared to the uncoupled case, which determines solids distribution.
NSF GRFP DGE-1842166
- Doctor of Philosophy
- Mechanical Engineering
- West Lafayette