CFD simulation of shortstopping runaway reactions in vessels agitated with impellers and jets

D. Dakshinamoorthy, A. R. Khopkar, J. F. Louvar*, V. V. Ranade

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Runaway reactions are continuing to be a problem in the chemical industry. A recent study showed that 26% of our major chemical plant accidents are due to runaways. The consequences of runaway reactions are usually mitigated with (a) reliefs and containment systems or (b) shortstopping (reaction inhibition). This study covers the concept of shortstopping. One of the major reasons for runaways is power failure. In the advent of a power failure, mixing an inhibiting agent with the reactor contents is challenging. However, jets or impellers driven by a small generator can be used for mixing. This study compares shortstopping results in vessels agitated with jets and impellers using computational fluid dynamics (CFD). A commercial CFD code, Fluent is used. For shortstopping systems relying on jet mixing, angle and diameter of jet nozzle and jet velocity are the key design/operating parameters. For the systems with impellers, type, size and RPM of impeller are the key parameters. In this work, mixing with a jet mixer is first investigated for three nozzle diameters and two angles of injection. The best jet mixer configuration on the basis of mixing time is used for shortstopping studies. The simulated shortstopping results with the jet mixer are then compared with those obtained with impeller (Rushton and pitched blade turbine) stirred vessels. Our results identify the conditions for effective shortstopping; i.e., agitation requirements, locations for adding the inhibitor, and the quantity of inhibitor. The distribution of excess inhibitor is shown to be an important and essential design criterion for effective shortstopping when using impeller stirred vessels. The comparative study with a single jet shows that jet mixer is ineffective when used for shortstopping. Efforts such as adding excess inhibitor and inhibition with higher reaction rates at the same power, proved to be ineffective when using jet mixer compared to the results with impellers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)570-581
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • CFD
  • Impeller stirred vessels
  • Jet mixer
  • Runaway reaction
  • Shortstopping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Health and Safety
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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