Measurements and modelling of free-surface turbulent flows induced by a magnetic stirrer in an unbaffled stirred tank reactor

Tariq Mahmud, Jennifer N. Haque, Kevin J. Roberts, Dominic Rhodes, Derek Wilkinson

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58 Citations (Scopus)


Measurements and numerical simulations of turbulent flows with free-surface vortex in an unbaffled reactor agitated by a cylindrical magnetic stirrer are presented. Measurements of the three mean and fluctuating components of the velocity vector are made using a laser Doppler velocimetry in order to characterise the flow field at different speeds of the stirrer. A homogeneous Eulerian-Eulerian multiphase flow model coupled with a volume-of-fluid method for interface capturing is applied to determine the vortex shape and to compute the turbulent flow field in the reactor. Turbulence is modelled using a second-moment differential Reynolds-stress transport (RST) model, but for some cases the k - e{lunate} / k - ? based shear-stress transport (SST) model is also used. The predictions obtained using the ANSYS CFX-5.7 computational fluid dynamics code are compared with the images of the vortex and the measured distributions of mean axial, radial and tangential velocities and turbulent kinetic energy. The predicted general shape of the liquid free-surface is in good agreement with measurements, but the vortex depth is underpredicted. The overall agreement between the measured and the predicted axial and tangential velocities obtained with the RST model is good. However, the radial velocity is significantly underpredicted. Predictions of the turbulent kinetic energy yield reasonably good agreement with measurements in the bulk flow region, but discrepancy exists near the reactor wall where this quantity is underpredicted. The SST model predictions are generally of the same quality as those of the RST model, with the latter model providing better predictions of the tangential velocity distribution. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4197-4209
Number of pages13
JournalChemical Engineering Science
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2009


  • CFD for free-surface flow
  • Free-surface flow
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Magnetic stirrer mixing
  • Nuclear fuel reprocessing
  • Unbaffled agitated vessel
  • Volume-of-fluid
  • Vortex


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