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Publication Title | Mixing and Reaction in a Novel Spinning Disk Reactor

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Mixing and Reaction in a Novel Spinning Disk Reactor

I.G Robertson Department of Chemical and Process Engineering University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

L.R.Weatherley. Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, The University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS66045, USA


The spinning disc reactor concept is based on the surface rotation technique aimed at accelerating process operations, which present heat and mass transfer limitations. This paper describes the operation of a spinning disk reactor suitable for liquid phase reactions. The hydraulic performance of the reactor was evaluated using classical tracer-response techniques. The effects of flowrate and rotational speed upon mixing were determined. The performance as a reactor was also investigated using the liquid phase reaction between aqueous crystal violet and sodium hydroxide solution. Non-symmetrical single peak residence time distributions for the reactor were observed, consistent with the behaviour of two ideally mixed stirred tanks operating in series. The mean residence times increased with disk speed and this was explained by increased liquid hold up near the walls of the reactor due to the high speeds of the rotating shaft. The study showed a linear relation between the conversion of crystal violet and rotational disc speed. The rate of reaction was significantly higher than that predicted on the basis of the “two-tanks-in series” model, suggesting that enhanced mass transfer may also be present.


Centrifugal fields, high gradient magnetic fields and electrostatics have been identified as process intensification techniques[1]. The spinning disc reactor is based on the surface rotation technique aimed at overcoming heat and mass transfer limitations. High centrifugal fields are created through the rotation of a disc causing the reacting liquids to form a thin intensely mixed film.

Potential industrial applications include: liquid-liquid extraction; gas-liquid reactions; polymerisation reactions. The SDR provide faster kinetics, for example, the phase-transfer- catalysed Darzen’s reaction [2] for drug intermediates and active pharmaceuticals. Reaction times were reduced by 99.9%, the material inventory by 99% and the product impurities by 93%.

Elsewhere[3,4], the rate of polymerisation of polystyrene was found to dramatically increase in a spinning disc reactor when compared with a CSTR. Rapid increase in viscosity occurs with increasing monomer conversion which causes poor heat transfer and mixing throughout mixture.

The current work is concerned with the design and evaluation of a single stage spinning disk contactor in which a homogeneous liquid phase reaction was used to study the performance of the contactor. There were three principle aims: (i) To determine the mixing and residence time distribution behaviour of the contactor as a function of rotational speed; (ii) To study the relationship between rate of reaction and the rotational speed. (iii) To compare the performance of the spinning disc reactor with a conventional stirred tank reactor system


The spinning disk reactor was designed to handle the reaction between two liquids fed independently to the reactor. The reactor (figure 1) comprised of a flat circular disk of diameter 150mm made from 2mm stainless steel, connected coaxially to a rotating shaft powered by a belt drive. The shaft was hollow to allow connection to a supply of reactant

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