Hydrocyclone separators are widely used in various industrial applications in the oil and mining industries to sort, classify and separate solid particles or liquid droplets within liquid suspensions. Often, studies in the literature have investigated idealized and simplified geometries, which are also typically scaled down to very small sizes. In this study, the two phase flow system inside a transparent acyclic model with actual milling circuit cyclone hydraulics was investigated computationally and experimentally. The diameter and height of the hydrocyclone are 12.7 cm and 94 cm, respectively. In many industrial applications, a single phase flow system in a hydrocyclone is a rarity, since nearly all cyclones have an underflow which is open to atmosphere, and therefore an air core is present along the central axis. In this study, the flow field with an air core present has been investigated. The computational modelling was conducted using Star CCM+, a commercial Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software package. Large Eddy Simulation (LES) and the Volume of Fluid multiphase model was used. Additionally, the computational studies also focused on the prediction of the dimensions of the air core, which were measured experimentally. The tests were conducted in the Reynolds number range of 20,000–150,000 and 9000–67,800 for the water and NaI solution respectively. The model hydrocyclone was made of optically transparent acrylic plastic with flat, smooth outer surfaces so that there were no reflections, distortions, or obstructions. Refractive index matching, to minimize refraction effects, between the test fluid and acrylic test piece was achieved using a test liquid of sodium iodide aqueous solution (63.3% NaI by weight). Images of the flow field with the air core were taken using a Canon DSLR camera. A comparison between the experimental data and the computational results were made in the r-z plane. The experimental results and the computational results will be discussed in this paper.

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