Mass transfer area of structured packing



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The mass transfer area of nine structured packings was measured as a function of liquid load, surface tension, liquid viscosity, and gas rate in a 0.427 m (16.8 in) ID column via absorption of CO₂ from air into 0.1 mol/L NaOH. Surface tension was decreased from 72 to 30 mN/m via the addition of a surfactant (TERGITOL[trademark] NP-7). Viscosity was varied from 1 to 15 mPa·s using poly(ethylene oxide) (POLYOX[trademark] WSR N750). A wetted-wall column was used to verify the kinetics of these systems. Literature model predictions matched the wetted-wall column data within 10%. These models were applied in the interpretation of the packing results. The packing mass transfer area was most strongly dictated by geometric area (125 to 500 m²/m³) and liquid load (2.5 to 75 m³/m²·h or 1 to 30 gpm/ft²). A reduction in surface tension enhanced the effective area. The difference was more pronounced for the finer (higher surface area) packings (15 to 20%) than for the coarser ones (10%). Gas velocity (0.6 to 2.3 m/s), liquid viscosity, and channel configuration (45° vs. 60° or smoothed element interfaces) had no appreciable impact on the area. Surface texture (embossing) increased the area by 10% at most. The ratio of effective area to specific area (a[subscript e]/a[subscript p]) was correlated within limits of ±13% for the experimental database: [mathematical formula]. This area model is believed to offer better predictive accuracy than the alternatives in the literature, particularly under aqueous conditions. Supplementary hydraulic measurements were obtained. The channel configuration significantly impacted the pressure drop. For a 45°-to-60° inclination change, pressure drop decreased by more than a factor of two and capacity expanded by 20%. Upwards of a two-fold increase in hold-up was observed from 1 to 15 mPa·s. Liquid load strongly affected both pressure drop and hold-up, increasing them by several-fold over the operational range. An economic analysis of an absorber in a CO₂ capture process was performed. Mellapak[trademark] 250X yielded the most favorable economics of the investigated packings. The minimum cost for a 7 m MEA system was around $5-7/tonne CO₂ removed for capacities in the 100 to 800 MW range.