Modelling mass transfer from a packed bed by fluid extraction

Document Type


Source of Publication

International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer

Publication Date



A mathematical model describing the erosion or leaching of a solid material by a flowing fluid in a column is developed. This involves an advection-diffusion equation coupled to a linear kinetic reaction describing the mass transfer between the solid and fluid. Two specific cases are analysed, the first where the extracted material has the same saturation solubility and rate of mass transfer throughout the process, the second where the solubility switches after a certain amount of erosion. In the first case there are only two model unknowns, the solubility and mass transfer coefficient, in the second there is a third unknown, the second solubility. Exploiting the fact that erosion is a slow process (relative to the flow rate) a perturbation solution based on the smallness of the amount removed is developed to describe the concentration and radius throughout the column. From this an analytical expression for the extracted fraction is obtained. The extracted fraction has a large linear section which results in a simple calculation to estimate the initial solubility from a very few or even a single data point. The remaining unknowns may also be easily calculated from the formula and later data points. A numerical solution, using finite differences, is developed to verify the perturbation solution. The analytical solution is also verified against experimental data for the removal of lanolin from wool fibres with a supercritical CO2/ethanol solvent. Values for the mass transfer rate and two solubilities are obtained for different pressures and shown to provide excellent agreement with a series of experimental results for the extracted fraction.




Elsevier BV






Advection-diffusion equations, Mathematical model, Moving boundary problems, Perturbation methods, Sorption column, Supercritical fluid extraction

Scopus ID


Indexed in Scopus


Open Access


Open Access Type

Green: A manuscript of this publication is openly available in a repository