Validation of a novel open-source work-flow for the simulation of packed-bed reactors

Gianluca Boccardo, Frédéric Augier, Yacine Haroun, Daniel Ferré, Daniele L. Marchisio*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The simulation of flow and transport in packed-bed (catalytic and non-catalytic) reactors is of paramount importance in the chemical industry. Different tools have been developed in the last decades for generating particle packings, such as the Discrete Element Method (DEM), whereas Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is generally employed for simulating fluid flow and scalar dispersion. This work-flow presents the main drawbacks of being computationally expensive, as most packing generation algorithms deal with non-convex objects, such as trilobes, with cumbersome strategies, and of making use of in-house or commercial codes, that are either difficult to access or costly. In this paper a novel open-source and easily accessible work-flow based on Blender, a rigid-body simulation tool developed for computer graphics applications, and OpenFOAM a very well-known CFD code, is presented. The approach, which presents the main advantage of being computationally fast, is validated by comparison with experimental data for global bulk porosity, particle orientation, local porosity and velocity distributions, and pressure drop. To our knowledge this is the very first application of Blender for the simulation of packed-bed reactors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)809-820-820
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Blender
  • Catalytic reactor
  • Ergun law
  • OpenFOAM
  • Packed-bed reactor


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