Systems and Design

The Impact of granular segregation on heat transfer in rotary kilns, Christine Beaulieu

Fluidized bed thermogravimetric analyzer, Said Samih

Optimization of Photobioreactor with Eulerian – Eulerian – Lagrangian model for producing bioplastic using microalgae and CO2 emissions from incinerators , Shuli Shu

Hydro-Potash Technology Commercialization , Rouzbeh Jafari, Mohammad Latifi, Liling Jin, Javeed Mohammad, Mitra Mirnezami, Patrice Chartrand, Jamal Chaouki


The Impact of granular segregation on heat transfer in rotary kilns
Rotary kilns are versatile equipment frequently used in the industry. They are particularly used in drying operations in the wood and mining industries, and during pyrolysis in waste management.  However, despite their popularity and widespread use, many problems still occur when it is time to heat granular matter in a rotary kiln. As a matter of fact, the state of the art on heat transfer for particulate systems within rotary kilns is still limited. For example, during tire pyrolysis in rotary kilns, the temperature remains low during the beginning of the operation. Once the size of the particles begins to change, small particles move differently in the tumbler, bringing with them a quantity of energy that drives up the temperature of the bulk unpredictably. This issue is at the heart of many problems in the industry and represents a topic on which there is a lot of ongoing research.

Personally, I am investigating this problematic by using numerical simulations. The discrete element method (DEM) will be used to simulate the segregation of particles of different sizes in the kiln. The variation of temperature of each particle will also be computed with DEM and a global heat transfer coefficient representing the rising of temperature in the kiln will be determined. The comprehension of this phenomenon should help designing more efficient kilns and determining appropriate operational conditions to optimize heat transfer.


Fluidized bed thermogravimetric analyzer
The newly developed fluidized bed thermogravimetric analyzer (TGA) is the first equipment that combines both the fluidization and the weight measurement of the sample. The standard fluidized bed TGA consists of a quartz reactor with a diameter of 1 inch and a total height of 6 inch, a furnace and various measuring instruments. The measuring instruments include (1) a load cell for the weight measurement, (2) several thermocouples for temperature measurement of the bed, (3) pressure transducers for pressure drop measurement and (4) two mass flow controllers for gas flow rate adjustment.  The two mass flow controllers are linked to the thermocouple, which permits decreasing the gas flow rates when the temperature is increasing.  The apparatus is equipped with a software for the fluidized bed TGA in order to keep the system at approximately minimum fluidization at any temperature. The load cell measures the apparent weight of the reactor and the pressure transducers give the pressure drop across the distributor and the filter. The apparent weight, which is obtained from the load cell, is corrected by the model giving the pseudo variation of the reactor weight as a function of the pressure drop along the distributor. The exiting gases from the fluidized bed TGA are analyzed by means of a GC/FT-IR system.

The reactor can be fed by a wide range of solid samples, including solid fuels, biomass and solid waste. With different particle size and shapes, 5 g of the solid sample can be fluidized with different gas medium in the quartz reactor. The ambient reaction chamber can be heated up to 1100 °C with a 50 °C/min heating rate.

A schematic of the experimental setup can be found in our recent article, published in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Journal, via the link below:

This project was financed by the Carbon Management Canada (CMC-NCE).

Optimization of Photobioreactor with Eulerian – Eulerian – Lagrangian Model 

CO2 capture with mircoalgae is considered as one of the options for reducing CO2 gas and the global warming. Furthermore, the bioproduct of the microalgae can be an important raw material for the process industries. However, the efficiency of photobioreactors is not high enough as the penetration depth of light in the photobioreactor is around 1cm. We try to design suitable internals to enhance the yields of photobioreactor with the aid of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). The efficiency of photobioreactor is determined by the residence time of the microalgae in the light penetration zones. Therefore, the motion of microalgae cells needs to be mimicked with Lagrangian method. The motion of both gas and liquid phases can be modeled with Eulerian descriptions. 

This project is part of a development of a bioplastic production process using microalgae and CO2 emissions from incinerators under supervision of Prof. Jamal Chaouki.

Hydro-Potash Technology Commercialization
K is essential in nearly all processes needed to sustain plant life. Functions of K in the plant are numerous and complex, with many of them still not fully understood. Potassium is the 7th most abundant element in earth crust and a common rock-forming element. However, Potash fertilizer is currently only produced from evaporate deposits, at high-cost underground mines or brines.

K-Feldspar (up to 16.9% K2O) is an untapped Potash source and currently not explored due to a technological gap. Huge K-Feldspar rich rock deposits occur at surface level in Brazil, China, Africa, India and USA and could be mined as large scale open pit mines at low cost.

A novel process (developed at MIT – the product is known as HYP) provides an opportunity to produce potash fertilizer with high efficiency and low cost, from K-Feldspar.

HYP is produced by using K-Feldspar rich rock powder as raw material altering the crystalline structure through a low-cost hydrothermal treatment. The process avoids the costly high-temperature route for the extraction and concentration of Potash, and that generates waste and by-products.

PEARL is executing a research and development project to commercialize the process by,

  • Investigating reaction and drying thermodynamics and kinetics
  • Developing process engineering flowsheet, design the unit operations and cost analysis
    • Define reactor selection and design concepts
  • Provide expertise to support the EPC company
  • Improve the process performance by deploying innovative ideas