The effects of gravity on a phase separator are studied numerically using an Eulerian/Lagrangian two-phase flow approach. The separator utilizes high intensity swirl to separate bubbles from the liquid. The two-phase flow enters tangentially a cylindrical swirl chamber and rotate around the cylinder axis. On earth, as the bubbles are captured by the vortex formed inside the swirl chamber due to the centripetal force, they also experience the buoyancy force due to gravity. In a reduced or zero gravity environment buoyancy is reduced or inexistent and capture of the bubbles by the vortex is modified. The present numerical simulations enable study of the relative importance of the acceleration of gravity on the bubble capture by the swirl flow in the separator. In absence of gravity, the bubbles get stratified depending on their sizes, with the larger bubbles entering the core region earlier than the smaller ones. However in presence of gravity, stratification is more complex as the two acceleration fields — due to gravity and to rotation — compete or combine during the bubble capture.

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