An experimental investigation of the swirling flow in a tall-form counter current spray dryer

Victor Francia*, Luis Martín, Andrew E. Bayly, Mark J. H. Simmons

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
48 Downloads (Pure)


This work studies the air flow in a large swirl counter-current dryer using sonic anemometry. Air velocity and turbulence fields are reported at isothermal conditions and in the absence of particles. In a tall-form unit the structure of the flow is largely influenced by the design of the exit. A contraction originates a central jet and suppresses the formation of recirculation zones despite the vortex acquires a high swirl intensity Ω (i.e. 1<Ω<2). Access to a full scale tower has permitted to: (a) identify asymmetries owed to the design of inlet and exhaust ducts, (b) present the first detailed turbulence data in production units, characterized by a highly anisotropic field and the axial decay of the turbulence kinetic energy, (c) study the flow stability, identifying the precession of the vortex core and oscillations at a constant Strouhal number and (d) study the impact that a rough wall has in the strength of the swirl. This work presents the first clear evidence of significant friction in spray dryers. The swirl intensity Ω decays exponentially in the dryer at a rate between 0.08 and 0.09, much higher than expected in pipe flow and independent of Re in the range 105-2.2{dot operator}105. Production dryers have a large characteristic wall roughness due the presence of deposits, which explains the stronger friction and the discrepancies found in the past between data at full scale or clean laboratory or pilot scale units. It is essential to address this phenomenon in current numerical models, which are validated on laboratory or pilot scale facilities and ignore the role of deposits, thus causing an overprediction of the tangential velocity above 30-40%.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-64
Number of pages13
JournalExperimental Thermal and Fluid Science
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


  • Downstream effects
  • Friction
  • PVC
  • Spray drying
  • Swirl decay
  • Vortex flow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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