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Airlift Technology Models: Predictive Tools for System Performance and Optimization

Michael Glasspool1, Kyle Lynch1, Paul Sattler1, James D'Aloia1, Katie Lillis1, and Gakuo Ndonga2. (1) Chemical Engineering, Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ 08028, (2) Mechanical Engineering, Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ 08028

Air-lift technology is an efficient and cost-effective means to generate liquid circulation in a wide range of systems. This technology is employed in numerous areas from small biological reactors to large liquid waste treatment systems. It is also used in specialty industries such as aquaculture systems. The purpose of this study is to identify the significant factors affecting the liquid flow rate generated by the air flow through a bubble column. The effects of water height, draft tube diameter, and air flow rate on the water flow rate in an air-lift draft tube system were investigated. Box Behnken experimental designs were used to develop an efficient experimental program and a predictive model for water flow rate. Air flow rates and liquid heights ranging from 5 to 20 SCFM and 12 to 24 in respectively were used. Three draft tubes were used with diameters of 1, 2 , and 4 in. Preliminary experiments have shown that water flow rates of up to 66 lpm can be generated in this system.