Year of Publication

2012

Season of Publication

Summer

Paper Type

Master's Thesis

College

College of Computing, Engineering & Construction

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MSME)

Department

Engineering

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. School of Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. James Fletcher

Second Advisor

Dr. Richard V. Conte

Third Advisor

Dr. Adel El-Safty

Department Chair

Dr. Murat Tiryakioglu

College Dean

Dr. Mark Tumeo

Abstract

The use of hydrophobic porous polymer membranes to vent unwanted gas bubbles from liquid streams is becoming increasingly more common in portable applications such as direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs) and micro-fluidic cooling of electronic circuits. In order for these portable systems to keep up with the ever increasing demand of the mobile user, it is essential that auxiliary components, like gas-liquid separators (GLS), continue to decrease in weight and size. While there has been significant progress made in the field of membrane-based gas-liquid separation, the ability to miniaturize such devices has not been thoroughly addressed in the available literature. Thus, it was the purpose of this work to shed light on the scope of GLS miniaturization by examining how the amount porous membrane required to completely separate gas bubbles from a liquid stream varies with operating pressure. Two membrane characterization experiments were also employed to determine the permeability, k, and liquid entry pressure (LEP) of the membrane, which provided satisfying results. These parameters were then implemented into a mathematical model for predicting the theoretical membrane area required for a specified two-phase flow, and the results were compared to experimental values. It was shown that the drastically different surface properties of the wetted materials within the GLS device, namely polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and acrylic, caused the actual membrane area requirement to be higher than the theoretical predictions by a constant amount. By analyzing the individual effects of gas and liquid flow, it was also shown that the membrane area requirement increased significantly when the liquid velocity exceeded an amount necessary to cause the flow regime to transition from wedging/slug flow to wavy/semi-annular flow.

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