Article

Air-lift pumps characteristics under two-phase flow conditions

International Journal of Heat and Fluid Flow 01/2009; 30(1):88-98. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijheatfluidflow.2008.09.002

ABSTRACT Air-lift pumps are finding increasing use where pump reliability and low maintenance are required, where corrosive, abrasive, or radioactive fluids in nuclear applications must be handled and when a compressed air is readily available as a source of a renewable energy for water pumping applications. The objective of the present study is to evaluate the performance of a pump under predetermined operating conditions and to optimize the related parameters. For this purpose, an air-lift pump was designed and tested. Experiments were performed for nine submergence ratios, and three risers of different lengths with different air injection pressures. Moreover, the pump was tested under different two-phase flow patterns. A theoretical model is proposed in this study taking into account the flow patterns at the best efficiency range where the pump is operated. The present results showed that the pump capacity and efficiency are functions of the air mass flow rate, submergence ratio, and riser pipe length. The best efficiency range of the air-lift pumps operation was found to be in the slug and slug-churn flow regimes. The proposed model has been compared with experimental data and the most cited models available. The proposed model is in good agreement with experimental results and found to predict the liquid volumetric flux for different flow patterns including bubbly, slug and churn flow patterns.

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