Large eddy simulation of TiO₂ nanoparticle evolution in turbulent flames
Flame based synthesis is a major manufacturing process of commercially valuable nanoparticles for large-scale production. However, this important industrial process has been advanced mostly by trial-and-error based evolutionary studies owing to the fact that it involves tightly coupled multiphysics flow phenomena. For large scale synthesis of nanoparticles, different physical and chemical processes exist, including turbulence, fuel combustion, precursor oxidation, and nanoparticle dynamics exist. A reliable and predictive computational model based on fundamental physics and chemistry can provide tremendous insight. Development of such comprehensive computational models faces challenges as they must provide accurate descriptions not only of the individual physical processes but also of the strongly coupled, nonlinear interactions among them. In this work, a multiscale computational model for flame synthesis of TiO2 nanoparticles in a turbulent flame reactor is presented. The model is based on the large-eddy simulation (LES) methodology and incorporates detailed gas phase combustion and precursor oxidation chemistry as well as a comprehensive nanoparticle evolution model. A flamelet-based model is used to model turbulence-chemistry interactions. In particular, the transformation of TiCl4 to the solid primary nucleating TiO2 nanoparticles is represented us- ing an unsteady kinetic model considering 30 species and 70 reactions in order to accurately describe the critical nanoparticle nucleation process. The evolution of the TiO2 number density function is tracked using the quadrature method of moments (QMOM) for univariate particle number density function and conditional quadrature method of moments (CQMOM) for bivariate density distribution function. For validation purposes, the detailed computational model is compared against experimental data obtained from a canonical flame- based titania synthesis configuration, and reasonable agreement is obtained.