The Art of Mixing: Simulation for Everyday Products

You might not imagine that there is a great deal of science behind the creation of your fabulous new tube of lipstick, the bottle of detergent sitting in your laundry room, or that jar of mayonnaise in the fridge. In fact, mixing simulation is an important operation used across a wide spectrum of process industries: pharmaceutical, chemical, personal care and cosmetic products, biotechnology, food and beverages, oil, mining, paper pulp, rubber, ceramics, waste disposal and water treatment. Chemical and biological syntheses are complex. The fluid flow and its mixing are sophisticated. They require the fluid flow to be modeled and resolved in a complex geometry and with complex physics. Being able to characterize, understand and ultimately predict the fluid flow in relevant systems and to obtain optimal and consistent mixing quality are of vital importance to ensure quality end-product.

Altair’s computational fluid dynamics (CFD) solver AcuSolve® is well-known for this application. It provides high-quality, experimentally-validated solutions, whether to study the blending of non-Newtonian fluids in mixing equipment, or for using CFD data to help design mixing equipment and better predict and control processing outcomes. AcuSolve’s unstructured meshing technology and automatic mesh generator are capable of efficiently handling unstructured meshes with high aspect ratios and badly distorted elements that are commonly produced by fully automatic mesh generators. This enables highly accurate results in greatly reduced solution timeframes, and allows easy and effective modeling using a variety of mixing approaches: stirred tanks, static mixers, jet mixers, rotor stators, etc.

The advanced particle tracing code AcuTrace™ within the AcuSolve suite is capable of accurately tracking particles in computational flow fields, providing mixing-specific physics, and allowing sophisticated visualization of the internal flow structures. This provides users with a robust tool for computing and analyzing multiphase and multicomponent flows.

Typically, static mixers are used by the process industries, such as the Chemineer Kenics® product line or Sulzer SMX. CFD is an excellent tool for studying flows in static mixers where the complexity of the flow geometry makes visualization experiments difficult and expensive. With a validated model, CFD can be used to design static mixers and predict process performance.

If you have read to this point, you would probably agree that mixing simulation has done amazing things for everyday products. However, its potential has yet to be fully exploited largely due to simulation’s association with high levels of required expertise, expensive tool acquisition, and modeling complexity. The innovations of software licensing, delivery or cloud-aided engineering, application automation, and design thinking are all very healthy and necessary steps toward increasing the widespread adoption of simulation technology.

Altair is at the very forefront of these innovations. Its introduction of CFDCalc™, another creative cloud solution, enables utilization of Altair CFD simulation technology in the cloud, making it much more accessible. A recent review by Kenneth Wong, Editor of Desktop Engineering, described it as a welcome change, an “app-style of delivering CFD”. SMX Mixer is one of three specialized vertical applications of CFDCalc that is not only simple to use, but powerful and accurate due to the sophisticated CFD technology behind it – AcuSolve. The combination of “appification” and cloud delivery may eventually make mixing in the cloud a mainstream reality.

Christine Barrett

About Christine Barrett

The admin of the Altair Corporate Blog.