Stirred tanks typically employed in process industries are provided with baffles. Although the presence of baffles is known to guarantee good mixing rates, unbaffled vessels may be compulsory in some applications as crystallization, bioremediation, biotechnology and ore industry. A better understanding of unbaffled stirred vessels flow dynamics may allow (i) a proper design to be performed and (i) conditions/processes where baffle presence can be avoided to be recognized.
In the present study, the k-? SST was used to simulate an unbaffled tank from early to fully turbulent regime (Re(600-33,000). The unbaffled tank simulated has a diameter T=0.19m and is stirred by a standard six-bladed Rushton turbine with diameter D=T/2 and clearance C=T/3. A corresponding baffled tank was also simulated in order to compare the the two systems. A time dependent Sliding Grid approach was employed for the baffled tank to account for the impeller-to-baffle relative rotation. Conversely, for the case of the unbaffled vessel, a reference frame rotating with the impeller was adopted. Experimental literature data concerning the power and pumping numbers were employed for the simulation validation. RANS results were in good agreement with the experimental data for the baffled case at the largest Re, whereas predictions for the unbaffled vessel exhibited a less satisfactory agreement with experimental data. The latter finding may be due to the poor capability of the two-equations model to manage the anisotropic turbulence typical of high swirling flows.