An experimental study of gas void fraction in dilute alcohol solutions in annular gap bubble columns using a four-point conductivity probe

The influence of alcohol concentration on the gas void fraction in open tube and annular gap bubble columns has been investigated using a vertical column with an internal diameter of 0.102 m, containing a range of concentric inner tubes which formed an annular gap; the inner tubes had diameter ratios from 0.25 - 0.69. Gas (air) superficial velocities in the range 0.014-0.200 m/s were investigated. Tap water and aqueous solutions of ethanol and isopropanol, with concentrations in the range 8 - 300 ppm by mass, were used as the working liquids. Radial profiles of the local void fraction were obtained using a four-point conductivity probe and were crosssectionally averaged to give mean values that were within 12% of the volumeaveraged gas void fractions obtained from changes in aerated level. The presence of alcohol inhibited the coalescence between the bubbles and consequently increased the mean gas void fraction at a given gas superficial velocity in both the open tube and the annular gap bubble columns. This effect also extended the range of homogeneous bubbly flow and delayed the transition to heterogeneous flow. Moreover, isopropanol results gave slightly higher mean void fractions compared to those for ethanol at the same mass fraction, due to their increased carbon chain length. It was shown that the void fraction profiles in the annular gap bubble column were far from uniform, leading to lower mean void fractions than were obtained in an open tube for the same gas superficial velocity and liquid composition.