Feed channel spacer characteristics and their optimisation

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Copyright: Cao, Zhiyi
The optimization of the spiral wound module design generally refers to the optimization of feed channel spacers, which is investigated in this thesis. The feed channel spacers serve to improve the mass transfer by promoting turbulence and provide passage for the fluid. However, the presence of spacers also significantly increases the channel pressure drop and consequently increases the energy costs of the process. The spacer design could therefore have a significant effect on process economics. The main aim of this work was to study spacer characteristics and test its major geometrical characteristics. To achieve this, custom designed spacers were developed in the laboratory and CFD simulations were used to visualize the flow management that spacer can achieve. Through experiments and CFD simulation, it was found that the transverse filament was one of the dominating factors in spacer design. Most of the pressure drop in the spacer filled channel was caused by the form drag introduced by the transverse filaments. The variation in transverse filament distance can greatly affect the number of transverse filaments in the channel and consequently affect the pressure drop and mass transfer in the channel. The experimental results showed that the diameter of the transverse filament also had a significant effect on channel pressure drop and mass transfer, especially at high flow rates. Increasing transverse filament diameter may result in a rapid increase in pressure drop and mass transfer caused by increased from drag and enhanced turbulence. Voidage alone was found not to be efficient for quantifying the geometrical properties of spacer filled channels. Two ratios, transverse filament diameter/channel height and transverse filament diameter/transverse distance, were established for quantifying the performance of the spacer filled channels. Novel spacers were developed as the result of this research. They provide similar mass transfer performance to the benchmark commercial spacer with lower pressure drop. Optimal novel spacer design was analysis based on economics analysis.
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Cao, Zhiyi
Wiley, Dianne
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PhD Doctorate
UNSW Faculty
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