Study of the Thermal Performance of an Industrial Alumina Chlorination Reactor based on CPFD Simulation


  • Zahir Barahmand
  • Chameera Jayarathna
  • Chandana Ratnayake



heat transfer, fluidized bed reactor, alumina chlorination, exothermic reaction, Barracuda, radiation, thermal simulation, CPFD simulation


As a part of the new sustainable aluminum production process under study, alumina chlorination plays a crucial role. The relevant process is an exothermic reaction in a fluidized bed reactor. The solid alumina reacts with chlorine and carbon monoxide and produces aluminum chloride and carbon dioxide as the main products. Then carbon dioxide can be separated efficiently. The optimum temperature for the alumina chlorination is 700℃. The reactor’s temperature should be kept in the range of 650-850℃ (most preferably 700℃) because below that temperature range, the reaction rate drops, and above that range, the alumina (which usually is γ-alumina) transfers to other alumina types, which is not desirable for the purpose. Extending other simulation studies by authors on alumina chlorination in an isothermal condition, the CPFD method has been utilized to thermal study and simulate the overall heat transfer of the system, including convective fluid to the wall, fluid to particle, and radiation heat transfer. Radial and axial heat transfer coefficient profiles at different levels show that almost all the heat should be transferred in the lower half of the reactor, making the design more challenging. At the steady-state, the range for the fluid temperature inside the reactor has been recorded 700-780℃.


M. Alagha and P. Szentannai. Analytical review of fluiddynamic and thermal modeling aspects of fluidized beds for energy conversion devices. International Journal of Heat Average heat duty in steady-state and Mass Transfer, 147, 118907, 2020. doi:10.1016/j.ijheatmasstransfer.2019.118907

J. Almendros-Ibáñez, M. Fernández-Torrijos, M. Díaz-Heras, J. Belmonte, and C. Sobrino. A review of solar thermal energy storage in beds of particles: Packed and fluidized beds. Solar Energy, 192, 193–237, 2019. doi:10.1016/j.solener.2018.05.047

ANSYS FLUENT User Guide. 2021.

Z. Barahmand, C. Jayarathna, and C. Ratnayake. CPFD simulations on a chlorination fluidized bed reactor for aluminum production: An optimization study. In proceedings - 1st SIMS EUROSIM Conference on Modelling and Simulation, Finland, 2021a.

Z. Barahmand, C. Jayarathna, and C. Ratnayake. The effect of alumina impurities on chlorination in a fluidized bed reactor: A CPFD study. In proceedings - 1st SIMS EUROSIM Conference on Modelling and Simulation, Finland, 2021b.

Barracuda User Manual. 2021. CPFD Software.

P. Basu. Combustion and Gasification in Fluidized Beds. CRC Press, 2006.

T. Bergman, F. Incropera, D. DeWitt, and A. Lavine. Fundamentals of Heat and Mass Transfer. John Wiley & Sons, 2011.

A. Elshin, K. Muraveva, A. Borisenko, and A. Kalutik. Mark and Marshak boundary conditions in surface harmonics method. Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 2018. doi:10.1088/1742-6596/1133/1/012017

L. Fan, and C. Zhu. Principles of Gas-Solid Flows. Cambridge University Press, 1998.

M. Filla, A. Scalabrin, and C. Tonfoni. Scattering of thermal radiation in the freeboard of a 1 MWt fluidized bed combustion with coal and limestone feeding. Symposium (International) on Combustion, 26(2), 3295–3300, 1996. doi:10.1016/S0082-0784(96)80176-7

L. Garcia-Gutierrez, F. Hernández-Jiménez, E. Cano-Pleite, and A. Soria-Verdugo. Experimental evaluation of the convection heat transfer coefficient of large particles moving freely in a fluidized bed reactor. International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer, 153, 119612, 2020. doi:10.1016/j.ijheatmasstransfer.2020.119612

Haydary. Reactors. In Chemical Process Design and Simulation (pp. 101–124). John Wiley & Sons, 2018.

A. Kovács, C. Breward, K. Einarsrud, S. Halvorsen, E. Nordgård-Hansen, E. Manger, A. Münch, and J. Oliver. A heat and mass transfer problem for the dissolution of an alumina particle in a cryolite bath. International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer, 162, 120232, 2020.

D. Kunii and Levenspiel. Fluidization Engineering.Butterworth-Heinemann, 1991.

B. Lie. Modeling of Dynamic Systems [Unpublished book], 2019.

D. Miller, C. Pfutzner, and G. Jackson. Heat transfer in counter-flow fluidized bed of oxide particles for thermal energy storage. International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer, 126, 730–745, 2018. doi:10.1016/j.ijheatmasstransfer.2018.05.165 National Fuels and Energy Conservation Act, S. 2176. U.S. Government Printing Office, 1973.

B. Nauman, B. Handbook of Chemical Reactor Design, Optimization, and Scaleup. McGraw-Hill Professional, 2001. doi:10.1036/9780071395588

K. Qiu, F. Wu, S. Yang, K. Luo, K. Luo, and J. Fan. Heat transfer and erosion mechanisms of an immersed tube in a bubbling fluidized bed: A LES–DEM approach. International Journal of Thermal Sciences, 100, 357–371, 2016.

F. Scala, F. Fluidized Bed Technologies for Near-Zero Emission Combustion and Gasification (1st edition). Woodhead Publishing, 2013.

D. Snider. An Incompressible Three-Dimensional Multiphase Particle-in-Cell Model for Dense Particle Flows. Journal of Computational Physics, 170(2), 523–549, 2001. doi:10.1006/jcph.2001.6747

D. Snider, S. Clark, P. & O’Rourke. Eulerian–Lagrangian method for three-dimensional thermal reacting flow with application to coal gasifiers. Chemical Engineering Science, 66(6), 1285–1295, 2011. doi:10.1016/j.ces.2010.12.042

J. Thonstad. Aluminium Electrolysis: Fundamentals of the Hall-Héroult Process. Aluminium-Verlag, 2001.

E. Tsotsas. Particle-particle heat transfer in thermal DEM: Three competing models and a new equation. International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer, 132, 939–943, 2019.

W. Yang. Handbook of Fluidization and Fluid-Particle Systems. CRC Press, 2003.

Y. Zhang and Q. Wei. CPFD simulation of bed-to-wall heat transfer in a gas-solids bubbling fluidized bed with an immersed vertical tube. Chemical Engineering and Processing: Process Intensification, 116, 2017. doi:10.1016/j.cep.2017.03.007