Transformation of the tube-side mass transfer coefficient derived in hollow fibre membrane contactors (HFMC) of different characteristic length scales (equivalent diameter and fibre length) has been studied when operated in the low Graetz range (Gz<10). Within the low Gz range, mass transfer is generally described by the Graetz problem (Sh=3.67) which assumes that the concentration profile comprises a constant shape over the fibre radius. In this study, it is experimentally evidenced that this assumption over predicts mass transfer within the low Graetz range. Furthermore, within the low Gz range (below 2), a proportional relationship between the experimentally determined mass transfer coefficient (Kov) and the Graetz number has been identified. For Gz numbers below 2, the experimental Sh number approached unity, which suggests that mass transfer is strongly dependent upon diffusion. However, within this diffusion controlled region of mass transfer, tube-side fluid velocity remained important. For Gz numbers above 2, Sh could be satisfactorily described by extension to the Lévêque solution, which can be ascribed to the constrained growth of the concentration boundary layer adjacent to the fibre wall. Importantly this study demonstrates that whilst mass transfer in the low Graetz range does not explicitly conform to either the Graetz problem or classical Lévêque solution, it is possible to transform the experimentally derived overall mass transfer coefficient (Kov) between characteristic length scales (dh and L). This was corroborated by comparison of the empirical relationship determined in this study (Sh=0.36Gz) with previously published studies operated in the low Gz range. This analysis provides important insight for process design when slow tube-side flows, or low Schmidt numbers (coincident with gases) constrain operation of hollow fibre membrane contactors to the low Gz range.
- entrance region
- Graetz problem
- low Reynolds number
- hollow fibre membrane contactors