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6 Qualitative Considerations for Reactor Choice, Scaleup and Optimization

6 Qualitative Considerations for Reactor Choice, Scaleup and Optimization

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P.R. Gogate

study typically provide the parametric window found to be most effective at the

laboratory scale and the cause-effect-relationships between the operating parameters and the observed cavitational effects. This could also involve generating

design correlations for the prediction of the cavitational yield as a function of

different operating parameters as discussed earlier. These design equations will

help in selection of the operating parameters to achieve desired level of transformations. The first step is to try to understand the mechanisms of interaction from the

observed phenomena so that the desired cavitation field can be created on a larger

scale to promote similar interactions. The important scale up consideration is then to

establish the optimum conditions for the transformation in terms of the operating/

design variables that influence cavitation. In this analysis, the nature of the transformation will also have an impact on the suitability of the given cavitational reactor.

Both chemical and physical properties of the reaction medium will dictate the

required level of cavitation power. High viscosity media with low vapor pressure will

require higher energy to generate cavitation. The presence of entrained or evolved

gases will facilitate cavitation, as will the presence or generation of solid particles.

An efficient coupling of the acoustic energy to the material that will provide a

transmission path for the ultrasonic energy is also very important. This is usually a

major step and requires a thorough understanding of the nature of wave propagation

(either in high frequency or multiple frequency multiple transducer application) and

radiation from pipe, plate or channel shaped sonochemical reactors. Though a

detailed discussion related to these issues is beyond the scope of the present

work, the important factors that need to be analyzed have been illustrated below:






Mechanisms of cavitation and their interaction with the reactor material

Wave propagation in structures

Acoustic coupling and mode of excitation

Transducers and power generator technology

Integration of ultrasonics into the process system

Mason and Cordemans de Meulenaer [80] have also given the following 10

recommendations/steps in the optimization of an ultrasonic process.











Make cavitation easier by the addition of solids or gas bubbles to act as nuclei.

Try entraining different gases or mixture of gases.

Try different solvents for different temperature ranges and cavitation energies.

Optimize the power required for the reaction.

When using a solid-liquid system do not charge all the components in the

reactor at once.

If possible, try to homogenize two-phase systems as much as possible.

Try different shapes (diameters and volumes) for the reactor.

It can be better (but not always) to avoid standing wave conditions by performing

sonochemical reactions under high power conditions with mechanical stirring.

Where possible, try to transform a batch system into a continuous one.

Choose conditions, which allow comparisons between different sonochemical


2 Theory of Cavitation and Design Aspects of Cavitational Reactors



Concluding Remarks

Cavitation generates conditions of high temperature and pressure along with the

release of active radicals, which results in intensification of many of the physical

and chemical transformations. The magnitudes of pressure and temperature and

number of free radicals can be easily manipulated by adjusting the operating and

geometric parameters depending on the desired intensity of cavitation phenomena

suiting a particular transformation/application at the same time trying to minimize

the processing costs.

In the sonochemical reactors, selection of suitable operating parameters such

as the intensity and the frequency of ultrasound and the vapor pressure of the

cavitating media is an essential factor as the bubble behavior and hence the yields

of sonochemical transformation are significantly altered due to these parameters.

It is necessary that both the frequency and intensity of irradiation should not be

increased beyond an optimum value, which is also a function of the type of the

application and the equipment under consideration. The liquid phase physicochemical properties should be adjusted in such a way that generation of cavitation

events is eased and also large number of smaller size cavities are formed in the


Design of sonochemical reactors is a very important parameter in deciding the

net cavitational effects. Use of multiple transducers and multiple frequencies with

possibility of variable power dissipation is recommended. Theoretical analysis for

predicting the cavitational activity distribution is recommended for optimization

of the geometry of the reactor including the transducer locations in the case of

multiple transducer reactors. Use of process intensifying parameters at zones with

minimum cavitational intensity should help in enhancing the net cavitational


Overall it can be said that, cavitation phenomena offers a novel means for

intensification of a variety of physical/chemical transformations including chemical synthesis, biotechnology, environmental engineering, polymer engineering

etc. and the rates of transformations can be at times, order of magnitude higher

as compared to the conventional approach and also the energy consumption is

relatively less. At this stage of development of sonochemistry/cavitation, it seems

that there are some technical, economical limitations and very limited processing

on an industrial scale is being carried out though some efforts have been made

with success in pilot scale application of cavitational reactors by few research

groups. More insight into intensification studies using process intensifying parameters and/or combination of different reactor configurations/processes based on

the guidelines established in the present chapter should also help in achieving the

goal of industrial scale application. Undoubtedly, combined efforts of chemists,

physicists, chemical engineers and equipment manufacturers will be required for

the Chemical Process Industry (CPI) to harness cavitation as a viable option for

process intensification.


P.R. Gogate


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2 Theory of Cavitation and Design Aspects of Cavitational Reactors


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Chapter 3

Cavitation Generation and Usage Without

Ultrasound: Hydrodynamic Cavitation

Parag R. Gogate and Aniruddha B. Pandit

Abstract Hydrodynamic Cavitation, which was and is still looked upon as an

unavoidable nuisance in the flow systems, can be a serious contender as an

alternative to acoustic cavitation for harnessing the spectacular effects of cavitation

in physical and chemical processing. The present chapter covers the basics of

hydrodynamic cavitation including the considerations for the bubble dynamics

analysis, reactor designs and recommendations for optimum operating parameters.

An overview of applications in different areas of physical, chemical and biological

processing on scales ranging from few grams to several hundred kilograms has also

been presented. Since hydrodynamic cavitation was initially proposed as an alternative to acoustic cavitation, it is necessary to compare the efficacy of both these

modes of cavitations for a variety of applications and hence comparisons have been

discussed either on the basis of energy efficiency or based on the scale of operation.

Overall it appears that hydrodynamic cavitation results in conditions similar to

those generated using acoustic cavitation but at comparatively much larger scale of

operation and with better energy efficiencies.



Hydrodynamic cavitation, which generates similar effects as the well established

acoustic cavitation, has long being known for its detrimental effects and tackled

accordingly. Literature dating back to late nineteenth century report the destruction caused by cavitation in speed boats. English navy, in an attempt to make high

P.R. Gogate (*)

Chemical Engineering Department, Institute of Chemical Technology, Matunga, Mumbai

400019, India

e-mail: pr.gogate@ictmumbai.edu.in

Pankaj and M. Ashokkumar (eds.), Theoretical and Experimental

Sonochemistry Involving Inorganic Systems, DOI 10.1007/978-90-481-3887-6_3,

# Springer ScienceỵBusiness Media B.V. 2011



P.R. Gogate and A.B. Pandit

speed boats, developed mechanism to rotate the marine propellers at high speeds

to have an edge over the enemy. But sooner they faced challenge called ‘Cavitation’ which had put brakes on their speed boats. To sort this matter, Lord

Rayleigh, on invitation of English navy, studied the phenomena of cavitation

and published his famous report in 1917 [1], which discussed the behavior of

spherical bubble near a marine impeller. In this report, Rayleigh concluded that

gaseous bubbles present near impeller experiences a fluctuating pressure field due

to the velocity alterations. When the pressure lowers, the bubble grow in size and

as the pressure is recovered/ increased the bubble tend to shrink. As the bubble

shrinks, the bubble wall velocity increases, and since the inertia of liquid is much

higher as compared to that of bubble, bubble collapses adiabatically resulting in

cavitating conditions, which was established as the main cause for erosion of

impellers at higher speeds.

Since then, teams of engineers and scientists have put in gigantic efforts to evade

cavitation in hydraulic equipments like impellers, valves, pump, turbines, turbomachinery etc. [2] and possibly attain satisfactory performance of the equipments.

It was only recently that few research groups around the world have started to

look at cavitation not as an ‘issue’ to be worried about but as a tool for process

intensification [3]. Lohse in an interesting study revealed that even nature exploits

cavitation for its benefit in an interesting manner. Lohse and his group [4] carried

out an interesting study of snapping shrimp, which used cavitation phenomena for

self defence and for attacking its prey. From high speed photographic analysis it

was evident that this shrimp snapped its jaws repeatedly and swiftly. Each time the

jaws were snapped, water was thrown out at velocity high enough to create

cavitational bubbles. These bubble travelled along the water jet towards the prey

where it collapsed generating a shock wave which stunned the prey for a while,

giving enough time to the shrimp to attack it. Similar to nature utilizing the

beneficial effects of cavitation phenomena, concentrated efforts have been targeted

at exploiting the beneficial effects by research groups worldwide including the

pioneering work undertaken at the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai,

India [3, 5]. The effects of hydrodynamic cavitation can be successfully harnessed

to improve the energy efficiencies of chemical and physical processing applications. Energy efficiency of transformation is dependent on the availability of energy

in the required form and at the required location of transformation. For applications

involving a chemical change which is limited by mass transfer resistance, energy

should be available in the form of fluid turbulence whereas for applications

involving a chemical change which is limited by higher activation energy, the

reaction energy should be available in the form of pressure and heat. Similarly,

for applications involving physical transformations like nanoparticle synthesis, cell

disruption or leaching, energy will be required in the form of turbulence to impart

stress on the substrate. Supplying the energy in any other form will not assist these

transformations and will only result in the wastage of energy. With manipulation of

cavitation by simply controlling the dominant type of cavitation i.e. transient or

stable cavitation, it is possible to improve the energy efficiency of transformation.

3 Cavitation Generation and Usage Without Ultrasound: Hydrodynamic Cavitation



Generation of Hydrodynamic Cavitation

Hydrodynamic cavitation can simply be generated by using a constriction such as

an orifice plate, venturi or throttling valve in a liquid flow [3]. The pressure–

velocity relationship of the flowing fluid as explained by Bernoulli’s equation can

be exploited to achieve this effect. At the constriction, kinetic energy of the liquid

increases at the expense of pressure head as depicted schematically in the Fig. 3.1.

If the throttling is sufficient to cause the pressure around the point of vena

contracta to fall below the threshold pressure for cavitation (usually vapor pressure

of the medium at the operating temperature), cavities are generated. Subsequently,

as the liquid jet expands reducing the average velocity, the pressure increases,

resulting in the collapse of the cavities. During the passage of the liquid through

the constriction, boundary layer separation occurs and a substantial amount

of energy is lost in the form of a permanent pressure drop due to local turbulence.

Very high intensity fluid turbulence is also generated downstream of the constriction; its intensity depends on the magnitude of the pressure drop and the rate of

pressure recovery, which, in turn, depend on the geometry of the constriction and

the flow conditions of the liquid, i.e., the scale of turbulence [6, 7]. The intensity

of turbulence has a profound effect on cavitation intensity. Thus, by controlling

the geometric and operating conditions of the reactor, the required intensity of

the cavitation for the desired physical or chemical change can be generated

with maximum energy efficiency [3]. A commonly used device based on hydrodynamic cavitation phenomena is the high-pressure homogenizer, which is, in

essence, a high-pressure positive displacement pump with a throttling valve

(single or multistage).



Vena contracta



Fig. 3.1 Fluid flow and

Pressure variation in

hydrodynamic cavitation



Distance downstream to orifice


P.R. Gogate and A.B. Pandit

A dimensionless number known as the cavitation number (Cv) has generally

been used to relate the flow conditions with the cavitation intensity [8]:

Cv ¼

P2 À Pv

1 v2

2r o

where P2 is the fully recovered downstream pressure, PV is the vapor pressure of

the liquid and vo is the velocity of the liquid at the constriction. The cavitation

number at which the inception of cavitation occurs is known as the cavitation

inception number Cvi. Ideally, cavitation inception occurs at Cvi ¼ 1 and there are

significant cavitational effects at Cv less than 1. However, cavitation has been

found to occur at a higher cavitation number (in the range 2–4), possibly due to the

presence of dissolved gases or some impurities in the liquid medium. Yan and

Thorpe [9] have also shown that Cvi is a function of the flow geometry and usually

increases with an increase in the size of the constriction at comparable fluid

velocities. Moreover, comparison of experimental data of Yan and Thorpe [9]

for pipe diameter of 3.78 cm with the data of Tullis and Govindrajan [10] for pipe

diameters of 7.80 and 15.4 cm indicates that the cavitation inception number is a

strong function of the pipe diameter also, and it increases with an increase in the

pipe diameter. This can be attributed to the fact that with an increase in the

diameter of the pipe, the length scale of fluid turbulence increases, thereby

increasing the fluctuating velocity component (level of fluid turbulence downstream of the constriction) at same mean operating pressure drop. Though, cavitation can be achieved even at higher cavitation numbers, for maximum benefit from

the reactor, the flow conditions and the geometry should be adjusted in such a way

that the cavitation number lies in the range of 0.1–1. Very low operating cavitation

numbers are also not recommended as these can lead to supercavitation resulting in

vapor locking and no cavitational collapse [9].


Comparison with Acoustic Cavitation

Acoustic cavitation is as a result of the passage of ultrasound through the medium,

while hydrodynamic cavitation occurs as the result of the velocity variation in the

flow due to the changing geometry of the path of fluid flow. In spite of this

difference in the mechanisms of generation of two types of cavitation, bubble

behavior shows similar trends with the variation of parameters in both these

types of cavitation. The two main aspects of bubble behavior in cavitation phenomena are:

1. The amplitude of oscillation of cavity/bubble radius, which is reflected in the

magnitude of the resultant pressure pulses of the cavity collapse

2. The lifetime of the bubble, which is reflected in the distance travelled and hence

the extension of the zone of cavitational influence from point of its inception

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6 Qualitative Considerations for Reactor Choice, Scaleup and Optimization

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