CFD optimization of photochemical UV reactors for VOC degradation

University essay from Luleå tekniska universitet/Kemiteknik

Abstract: In 2016 the World Health Organization released a report on Ambient Air Pollution, in this it was stated that one out of every nine deaths all around the world in 2012 were due to air-pollution-related conditions. Urban air pollution involves a broad range of compounds from many diverse sources. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are some of the important compounds. Almost all VOCs are known to have effect on human health, many of them are carcinogenic. VOCs also contribute to the ground level photochemical smog and the reduction of the stratospheric ozone layer. Therefore, it is important to control the emissions of VOCs from industries and restaurants. Today most big scale VOC removal is done by thermal or catalytic incineration. While smaller scale air purification is done by using adsorbing materials such as activated carbon. Both these methods have their drawbacks. A promising technology, which is also environmentally friendly, is UV reactors. This thesis is a collaboration with the company Centriair, a company developing and selling UV reactors mainly for odor removal. The UV reactors which are in use today show acceptable performance, with a conversion of 50-60%. However, they have yet to be optimized to get the most out of the reactors. The aim was to try to reach an as high conversion of VOCs as possible in a prototype scale compared to a reference reactor, also in prototype scale. The reactors were simulated using the Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) software COMSOL Multiphysics® 5.2a. The simulation was based on earlier lab scale experiments with UV reactors. The conclusion from doing this thesis is that the most important challenge with a UV reactor up-scaling and optimization is the dark zones and the bypassing effect given by these. It is very important that the irradiation reaches the whole reactor and that all gas is affected by it. It is also important that the gas is given time to stay by the light sources as long as possible. Two reactors in this thesis had very high conversion results and thus showed potential of being very effective UV reactors. These two reactors showed conversion results of 45% respective 61% higher than the reference reactor used by Centriair today.

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