Annual Reviews Electronic Back Volume Collection 1932-2001ff
Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science, Production Engineering, Mining and Metallurgy, Traffic Engineering, Precision Mechanics
Gravity-driven bubbly flows are a specific class of flows, where all action is provided by gravity. An industrial example is formed by the so-called bubble column: a vertical cylinder filled with liquid through which bubbles flow that are introduced at the bottom of the cylinder. On the bubble scale, gravity gives rise to buoyancy of individual bubbles. On larger scales, gravity acts on nonuniformities in the spatial bubble distribution present in the bubbly mixture. The gravity-induced flow and flow structures can increase the inhomogeneity of the bubble distribution, leading to a turbulent flow. In this flow, specific scales are identified: a large-scale circulation with the liquid flowing upward in the center of the column and downward close to the wall. On the intermediate scale there are vortical structures; eddies of liquid, with a size on the order of the diameter of the column, that stir the liquid and radially transport the bubbles. On the small scale there is the local stirring of the bubbles. We describe the ideas developed over time and identify some open questions. We discuss the experimental findings on the turbulence generated, the stability of the flow, axial dispersion, and the similarities between bubble columns and air lifts. Especially for higher gas fractions, many questions still lack accurate answers. The lateral lift force in bubble swarms and the structure of the turbulence in the bubbly mixture are important examples of inadequately understood physical phenomena, providing many challenges for fundamental and applied research on bubbly flows.
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