Volume 14, no. 2Pages 39 - 51

# Numerical Research to Determine the Dominant Mechanism of Mass and Heat Transfer in Pressure Swing Adsorption Processes

O.O. Golubyatnikov, E.I. Akulinin, S.I. Dvoretsky
The existing mathematical models of pressure swing adsorption (PSA) apply various assumptions regarding the mass and heat transfer mechanisms in the “gas mixtureadsorbent” system. An increase in the number of assumptions leads to a simplification of the model, a decrease in the calculation time of one iteration in the model and, at the same time, a decrease in its accuracy. The simplification of the model is especially important in PSA processes, since the calculation of the model is carried out before the cyclic steady state and takes tens and even hundreds of cycles (iterations). Ensuring high accuracy of the PSA model and its minimum complexity is a contradictory requirement; therefore it is important to reasonably consider only those transfer mechanisms that are dominant in the model. The paper proposes a mathematical model of the PSA process, which takes into account the thermal effects of sorption, external and internal diffusion mechanisms of adsorptive transfer. A numerical research was carried out to determine the dominant transfer mechanism, and recommendations were proposed for using the preferred PSA model in terms of its accuracy and calculation time (for the processes of air oxygen enrichment and synthesis gas separation). It was found that to calculate PSA oxygen units with a capacity of less than 4 l/min at NTP, it is advisable to use an isothermal model, which saves at least 24,3% of the calculation time with a loss of accuracy of no more than 0,084 vol%. To calculate PSA hydrogen units, the use of an isothermal model is impractical even at the lowest productivity of 50 l/min at NTP. When the diameter of the adsorbent particles is less than 2 mm, it is advisable to use an external diffusion model, which saves at least 54,2% of the calculation time for oxygen units and at least 47,1% of the calculation time for hydrogen units with a slight loss of accuracy. At a gas flow velocity of more than 0,05 m/s, the model can ignore the diffusion in the gas. The research results can be used to calculate various PSA processes for separation of gas mixtures: rPSA, ultra rPSA, VSA, VPSA, and related processes.
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Keywords
pressure swing adsorption; mathematical modelling; numerical research; hydrogen; oxygen.
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