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Mixing regime simulation and cellulose particle tracing in a stacked frame photocatalytic reactor.

Nagarajan, Sanjay; Stella, Lorenzo; Lawton, Linda A.; Irvine, John T.S.; Robertson, Peter K.J.


Sanjay Nagarajan

Lorenzo Stella

John T.S. Irvine

Peter K.J. Robertson


To sustainably meet the global energy demand, unconventional methods to produce renewable energy must emerge. Biofuels from cellulose (via fermentable sugar production) mediated via photocatalysis provides an alternative to conventional fossil fuels. In order to effectively drive photocatalytic processes an effective reactor design is required, the design of which is influenced by a number of key factors such as the catalyst to reactant ratio and residence time, catalyst illumination time, light penetration and distribution for the system, mass transfer limitations (mixing) and product recovery. In this study we use COMSOL Multiphysics® to simulate and assess one of the mentioned parameters – mixing regime of cellulose particles in a Stacked Frame Photocatalysis Reactor (SFPR). In the reactor design, we compare two mixers: a ‘plus’ shaped magnetic stirrer bar and an 8 blade Rushton impeller. The simulations reveal that the Rushton impeller offers a radial mixing pattern with a higher fluid velocity of 1.2m/s when compared to the stirrer bar that offers a fluid velocity of 0.9m/s. Cellulose particle tracing simulations confirm that the particle dispersion is superior in the case of the Rushton impeller as the vorticity generated during the mixing push the particles to the reactor's walls. Since the particles are forced towards the walls, there is a probability of more particles being illuminated than in the case of no or improper mixing.


NAGARAJAN, S., STELLA, L., LAWTON, L.A., IRVINE, J.T.S. and ROBERTSON, P.K.J. 2017. Mixing regime simulation and cellulose particle tracing in a stacked frame photocatalytic reactor. Chemical engineering journal [online], 313, pages 301-308. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 4, 2016
Online Publication Date Dec 7, 2016
Publication Date Apr 1, 2017
Deposit Date Dec 16, 2016
Publicly Available Date Dec 8, 2017
Journal Chemical engineering journal
Print ISSN 1385-8947
Electronic ISSN 1873-295X
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 313
Pages 301-308
Keywords Photocatalysis; COMSOL; Fermentable sugars; Mixing; Simulation
Public URL


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