Transport Phenomena - Delft University of Technology

Research Pages Robert F. Mudde

Multiphase Flow

Multi phase flows are omny present, both in natural systems (like rain and clouds, avelanches, blodd flow) and in man-made ones.
In the process industry, many chemical reactors actually employ multiphase flows. Other applications are found in the production of oils and natural gas, where long transport lines transport an multiphase flow from the well to platforms. They are also found in numerous environmental flows, like sediment transport in rivers, or droplets forming a cloud. I am interested in multiphase flows with relatively high volume fractions of each phase. We employ both experimental and numerical techniques and try to specialize in advanced techniques.

Two types of multiphase flows are at the center of my research: bubbly flows and fluidized beds. The former are easily made by blowing air into water; the latter are formed by blowing a gas with sufficient velocity upwards through a container filled with powder.

Bubbly Flow

Fluidization & Granular Matter

    X-ray Tomography

    Particle Tracking

Generally speaking 2 flow regimes exist in bubble columns: (i) at low superficial gas velocities we find the homogeneous bubbly flow and (ii) at higher supreficial gas velocities the heterogeneous regime. The former is characterized by a narrow bubble size distrbution with all bubbles rising vertically upwards with more or less the same velocity. No large scale liquid velocity is induced. In the latter, the gas fraction distribution in a cross-section of the bubble column is non-uniform. Time averaged, the gas fraction is higher in the center than close to the wall. The liquid flows upwards in the center and downwards in the wall region, creating a broad residence time distribution of the bubbles and backmixing in the liquid phase.


Bubble Fluidization at relatively low gas velocities or with coarser particles, creates a state in which the powder mass is very mobile, but still densely 'packed'. Bubbles, i.e. voids, me rise upwards through this powder mass. These bubbles cause mixing and flow at a macro-scale. The gas that flows through these bubbles has a different contact time than the interstitial gas in the powder mass. Experimental study of fluidized beds is difficult, as the powder mass in opaque. Therefore, we use X-ray Tomographic techniques to study the internal solids distribution and measure the motion and size of the bubbles.