Document Type


Date of Award

Fall 1-31-2007

Degree Name

Master of Science in Chemical Engineering - (M.S.)


Chemical Engineering

First Advisor

Robert Pfeffer

Second Advisor

Rajesh N. Dave

Third Advisor

Michael Chien-Yueh Huang


Fluidization is a very well known unit operation used in the chemical industry for various purposes. Inverse solid-liquid fluidization, where the solid particles to be fluidized are less dense than the fluid, is one of the several different kinds of fluidization being studied for its potential in industrial applications. The present work focuses on finding the hydrodynamic characteristics (minimum fluidization velocity, bed expansion and pressure drop) of an inverse fluidized bed of aerogel granules and using this system to remove oil from an oil-water mixture. The solid particles employed for this study are low density (100 kg/m3) surface treated hydrophobic aerogel (Nanogel®) granules of size in the range of 0.5 to 2.3 mm. These particles are highly porous characterized by a nanosized pore structure and a very high surface area. Since their density is lower than water, they are fluidized downward in a solid-liquid inverse fluidized bed column.

In this work, a constant flow of an oil-water mixture is passed through an inverse fluidized bed of aerogel granules. The oil concentration was determined by measuring the Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) using a colorimeter. Once the aerogel granules are saturated, they were entrained from the fluidized bed, and separated from the clean stream of water with a fibrous filter.