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Condensational growth assisted Venturi scrubber for soot particles emissions control

Di Natale, Francesco, La Motta, Francesco, Carotenuto, Claudia, Tammaro, Marco, Lancia, Amedeo
Fuel processing technology 2018 v.175 pp. 76-89
adsorption, aerosols, air pollutants, air pollution, exposure duration, gases, hydrophobicity, laminar flow, mathematical models, particle size distribution, particulate emissions, power plants, scrubbers, soot
This paper aims to evaluate how condensational growth may be used to improve the performances of a Venturi scrubber in removing soot particles, which are among the most relevant air pollutants emitted in industrial and power plants exhaust gases. Former studies on this system, called Condensational Growth assisted Venturi scrubbers (CGVS), suggested that the most relevant step to address their efficiency is the assessment of the amount of water that condense on the soot particles, which determines the actual aerosol size distribution entering the Venturi. Unfortunately, a definite physical mathematical model to predict the actual condensational growth of an ensemble of non-spherical particles is not yet available and experimental investigation is better suited to assess this point. This study reports experimental data on the size distribution achieved by exposing model soot particles to a water supersaturated gas for different residence times. The obtained size distributions are used to estimate the efficiency of a Venturi scrubber in removing the water-soot aerosols, allowing a comparison with the removal of parent soot particles. The experiments were carried out at lab scale by using a laminar-flow growth tube, a simple device to perform a controlled condensational growth. The experiments indicated that, even for a hydrophobic material as soot, condensational growth is effective even at supersaturation levels as low as 1.02. Liquid-solid aerosols from nearly 2 to >3 times larger than the parent particles are produced with a supersaturation level lower than 1.15. Finally, the analysis of experimental data indicated that the fraction of particles subjected to condensational growth is relevant. Indeed, calling as ψ the fraction of particles that become larger than the 98% percentile of the original particle size distribution, we found that ψ can be as high as 78%. The analysis of data indicated that an appreciable linear correlation exits among ψ and the 95th percentile of the supersaturation level, S95, while not being dependent on the exposure time. The experimental evidences suggest that the adsorption of water molecules over the soot surface overcome the effects of hydrophobicity and of line tension effects, favouring condensation of water over the soot surface and leading to a higher nucleation rate even at low supersaturation.Application of the Venturi scrubber model to the water-soot aerosol leaving the growth tube indicate that the CGVS may remove particles with an efficiency far higher than that achieved by the stand alone Venturi.For a given Venturi's throat length and velocity and a given liquid-to-gas ratio, the CGVS efficiency depends almost linearly on ψ and, in turns on S95.Experimental and model results suggested that the CGVS can be a valuable and effective device to capture soot particles and that condensational growth can be used as a retrofit method for existing units.