A study of the drying of single droplets in free-flight

  • Saleem Akbar

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The literature relating to evaporation from single droplets of pure liquids and the drying of solution and slurry droplets, and of droplet sprays has been reviewed. The heat and mass transfer rates for individual droplets suspended in free-flight, were investigated using a specially-designed vertical wind tunnel, to simulate conditions in a spray drier. The technique represented a unique alternative method for investigating evaporation from unrestrained single droplets with variable residence times. The experiments covered droplets of pure liquid allowbreak (water, isopropanol) allowbreak and of significantly different solutions (sucrose, potassium sulphate) over a range of temperatures of 37oC to 97oC, initial concentrations of 5 to 40wt/wt% , and initial drop sizes of 2.8 to 4.6mm. Drop behaviour was recorded photographically and dried particles were examined by Scanning Electron Microscopy. Correlations were developed for mass transfer coefficients for pure water droplets in free-flight; (i) experiencing oscillations, rotation and deformation, Sh = -105 + 3.9 [Ta - Td/Tamb]0.18Re0.5Sc033 for Re approx. > 1380 (ii) when these movements had ceased or diminished, Sh = 2.0 + 0.71 [Ta - Td/Tamb]0.18Re0.5Sc033 for Re approx. < 1060. Data for isopropanol drops were correlated resonably well by these equations. The heat transfer data showed a similar transition range. The drying rate curves for drops of sucrose and potassium sulphate solution exhibited three distinct stages; an initial increase in the drying rate as drop temperature reduced to the wet-bulb temperature, a short constant-rate period and a falling-rate period characterised by formation of a crust which controlled the mass transfer rate. Due to drop perturbation the rates in the high Re number region were up to 5 times greater than predicted from theory for spherical droplets. In the case of sucrose solution a `skin' formed over the drop surface prior to crust formation. This provided an additional resistance to mass transfer and resulted in extended drying times and a smooth crust of low porosity. The relevance of the results to practical spray drying operations is discussed.
Date of Award1988
Original languageEnglish


  • drying single droplets

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