Computational study of a single-phase flow in packed beds of spheres

Prashant R. Gunjal, Vivek V. Ranade*, Raghunath V. Chaudhari

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

136 Citations (Scopus)


Packed-bed reactors are widely used in petrochemical, fine chemical, and pharmaceutical industries. Detailed knowledge of interstitial flow in the void space of such packed-bed reactors is essential for understanding the heat and mass transfer characteristics. In this paper, fluid flow through the array of spheres was studied using the unit-cell approach, in which different periodically repeating arrangements of particles such as simple cubical, 1-D rhombohedral, 3-D rhombohedral, and face-centered cubical geometries were considered. Single-phase flow through these geometries was simulated using computational fluid dynamics (CFD). The model was first validated by comparing predicted results with published experimental and computational results. The validated model was further used to study the effect of particle arrangement/orientation on velocity distribution and heat transfer characteristics. The simulated results were also used to understand and to quantify relative contributions of surface drag and form drag in overall resistance to the flow through packed-bed reactors. The model and the results presented here would be useful in elucidating the role of microscopic flow structure on mixing and other transport processes occurring in packed-bed reactors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-378
Number of pages14
JournalAIChE Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • CFD
  • Drag
  • Heat transfer
  • Packed bed
  • Packing arrangement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Polymers and Plastics


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