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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 11, issue 3 | Copyright
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 11, 1741-1756, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-11-1741-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 27 Mar 2018

Research article | 27 Mar 2018

Assessing the degree of plug flow in oxidation flow reactors (OFRs): a study on a potential aerosol mass (PAM) reactor

Dhruv Mitroo1,a,*, Yujian Sun1,*, Daniel P. Combest2, Purushottam Kumar3, and Brent J. Williams1 Dhruv Mitroo et al.
  • 1Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO, USA
  • 2ENGYS LLC, St. Louis, MO, USA
  • 3Discipline of Chemical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar, Palaj, Gujarat 382355, India
  • anow at: Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Miami, Miami, FL, USA
  • *These authors contributed equally to this work.

Abstract. Oxidation flow reactors (OFRs) have been developed to achieve high degrees of oxidant exposures over relatively short space times (defined as the ratio of reactor volume to the volumetric flow rate). While, due to their increased use, attention has been paid to their ability to replicate realistic tropospheric reactions by modeling the chemistry inside the reactor, there is a desire to customize flow patterns. This work demonstrates the importance of decoupling tracer signal of the reactor from that of the tubing when experimentally obtaining these flow patterns. We modeled the residence time distributions (RTDs) inside the Washington University Potential Aerosol Mass (WU-PAM) reactor, an OFR, for a simple set of configurations by applying the tank-in-series (TIS) model, a one-parameter model, to a deconvolution algorithm. The value of the parameter, N, is close to unity for every case except one having the highest space time. Combined, the results suggest that volumetric flow rate affects mixing patterns more than use of our internals. We selected results from the simplest case, at 78s space time with one inlet and one outlet, absent of baffles and spargers, and compared the experimental F curve to that of a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation. The F curves, which represent the cumulative time spent in the reactor by flowing material, match reasonably well. We value that the use of a small aspect ratio reactor such as the WU-PAM reduces wall interactions; however sudden apertures introduce disturbances in the flow, and suggest applying the methodology of tracer testing described in this work to investigate RTDs in OFRs to observe the effect of modified inlets, outlets and use of internals prior to application (e.g., field deployment vs. laboratory study).

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In light of the widespread use of chemical reactors that simulate daytime atmospheric chemistry, a more critical analysis of the engineering behind new ones is needed. This work seeks to evaluate the geometry and flow dynamics inside a novel reactor, the potential aerosol mass (PAM) reactor, to help researchers tailor its use based upon what chemistry is investigated.
In light of the widespread use of chemical reactors that simulate daytime atmospheric chemistry,...
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