Flow Regime Transition in Countercurrent Packed Column Monitored by ECT

Zhigang Li, Yuan Chen, Yunjie Yang, Chang Liu, Mathieu Lucquiaud, Jiabin Jia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Vertical packed columns are widely used in absorption, stripping and distillation processes. Flooding will occur in the vertical packed columns as a result of excessive liquid accumulation, which reduces mass transfer efficiency and causes a large pressure drop. Pressure drop measurements are typically used as the hydrodynamic parameter for predicting flooding. They are, however, only indicative of the occurrence of transition of the flow regime across the packed column. They offer limited spatial information to mass transfer packed column operators and designers. In this work, a new method using Electrical Capacitance Tomography (ECT) is implemented for the first time so that real-time flow regime monitoring at different vertical positions is achieved in a countercurrent packed bed column using ECT. Two normalisation methods are implemented to monitor the transition from pre-loading to flooding in a column of 200 mm diameter, 1200 mm height filled with plastic structured packing. Liquid distribution in the column can be qualitatively visualised via reconstructed ECT images. A flooding index is implemented to quantitatively indicate the progression of local flooding. In experiments, the degree of local flooding is quantified at various gas flow rates and locations of ECT sensor. ECT images were compared with pressure drop and visual observation. The experimental results demonstrate that ECT is capable of monitoring liquid distribution, identifying flow regime transitions and predicting local flooding.
Original languageEnglish
Article number129841
Number of pages11
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
Issue numberPart 1
Early online date16 Apr 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Apr 2021


  • Flow regime
  • packed column
  • countercurrent gas-liquid flow
  • Electrical Capacitance Tomography


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