Particle tracking in a lab-scale conical fluidized bed dryer
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Conical fluidized bed dryers are widely used in the pharmaceutical industry due to their high heat and mass transfer characteristics. Despite their widespread use, very little is known about the hydrodynamics of conical fluidized bed dryers. Wet pharmaceutical granule has high moisture content and wide particle size distribution (PSD), which can lead to poor mixing and non uniform drying. Uneven moisture content in the final product can adversely affect the quality and shelf life of these high value drugs. Previous studies on the conical fluidized bed dryers focused on the study of the gas phase, however motion of particulate phase has never been studied. Particle tracking is an important tool to study the motion of the particulate phase. Two particle tracking techniques were developed and used to study the motion of the particulate phase in a conical fluidized bed dryer. The first technique was radioactive particle tracking (RPT) which was developed at the University of Saskatchewan laboratory for a vessel having conical geometry. Experiments were conducted using dry pharmaceutical granule and during the actual drying of wet pharmaceutical granule. Two radioactive tracers of different sizes (1.6 to 2.6 mm) were tracked in each set of experiments to determine the effect of particle size on particle motion and particle mixing. Superficial gas velocities of 1, 1.5, 2 and 2.5m/s were used in dry bed studies to quantify the effect of superficial gas velocity. The second particle tracking technique was developed at the labs of Merck Frosst Canada Inc. Movies were captured using a high speed video camera coupled to a borescope and then analyzed off-line using image analysis software.Three powders having mean particle diameters of 774, 468 and 200 microns were used. Experiments were conducted at superficial gas velocities of 1.5, 2 and 3 m/s. RPT revealed that there is a distinct circulation pattern of the particulate phase. Particles move upwards at high velocities near the centre of the bed and fall slowly near the walls. Furthermore, most of the gas flow is concentrated near the centre of the bed and the circulation pattern was observed at all the superficial gas velocities. Particle size of the tracer particle and PSD of the bed material had an appreciable impact on particle mixing with bigger particles exhibiting higher segregation tendencies than the smaller ones in the case of dry granule having a broad PSD. Particle segregation due to size difference was more pronounced at a superficial gas velocity of 1 m/s. However, segregation decreased with an increase in superficial gas velocity. During drying of wet granule, particle mixing and motion of the tracer particle was poor during the first 7 minutes of drying suggesting that most of the gas flow was concentrated near the centre of the bed. Particle mixing and average particle speeds increased considerably when the moisture content in the granule was less than 18 wt% suggesting a change in the hydrodynamics of the bed with the gas being more evenly distributed throughout the bed. Image analysis of high speed movies also suggested that a dilute region existed at the center of the bed. These observations were in agreement with the observations made by RPT.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
CommitteeHill, Gordon A.