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The motion of a large object in a bubbling fluidized bed was experimentally studied using digital image analysis (DIA). The experiments were performed in a 2-D bubbling fluidized bed with glass spheres as bed material. The object motion was measured using non-intrusive tracking techniques, while independent measurements of the dense phase velocity (using Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV)) and bubble velocity (using DIA) were carried out. The effect of the dimensionless gas velocity on the object motion was also analyzed. This work characterizes the circulation patterns of an object with a density similar to that of the bed, but much larger in size. Object size and density remained constant throughout the experiments. A comparison between the motion of sinking objects and the motion of the dense phase provided evidence of the feeble effect of buoyant forces on the motion of sinking objects. In contrast, the motion of rising objects is linked to the motion of bubbles. It was found that objects may be raised to the surface of the bed either by the action of a single bubble (one-jump) or by several passing bubbles (multiple-jumps). Based on these results, the circulation time of objects throughout the bed is a function of two parameters: the maximum depth attained by an object and the number of jumps during its rising path. This relationship is presented along and the multiple-jumps phenomenon is studied in detail. Finally, an estimate of the circulation time of an object based on semi-empirical expressions is presented for different dimensionless gas velocities. The probability density function of the circulation time shows two different modes as the object was less prone to be raised at moderate depths. The estimate of the circulation time was found to be in good agreement with our experimental data.
gas fluidization; bubbling bed; object motion; object jump; sinking and rising velocity; circulation time