Fluid dynamics of spacer filled rectangular and curvilinear channels

Vivek V. Ranade, Ashwani Kumar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Citations (Scopus)


Spacers are designed to generate significant secondary flow structures and create directional changes in the flow through membrane modules. Shape of the spacers used in membrane modules strongly influences the resulting flow and therefore performance of the module. In this work fluid dynamics of rectangular channels similar to membrane modules and containing different spacers was simulated using a three-dimensional computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model. A 'unit cell' approach was evaluated and used for this purpose. In addition to predicting the pressure drop, the simulated results provided significant insight into fluid dynamics of spacer filled channels. The validated CFD model was used to evaluate performance of different spacer shapes and understand the role of spacer shape and resulting fluid dynamics. The models were extended for the first time to simulate flow in spacer filled curvilinear channels, which could be useful in understanding the fluid behavior in spiral modules. The results were compared with those obtained with the flat channel. The approach and results presented in this work will have significant implications for identifying improved spacers with higher propensities to reduce fouling in membrane modules.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • CFD
  • Form drag
  • Membrane modules
  • Spacers
  • Thin channels
  • Viscous drag

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Filtration and Separation
  • Polymers and Plastics


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