The object of the present study is to access the performance of an airlift pump under predetermined operating conditions. The gas-liquid-solid three phase flow in an airlift pump is described by a system of differential equations, which derives from the fundamental conservation equations of continuity and momentum. This approach leads to a more general mathematical model which is applicable to a wide range of installations, from small airlift pumps to very large systems, suitable for deep-sea mining. For the frictional pressure drop calculation a new correlation, based on a pseudoliquid model, has been proposed. In addition, parameters such as the drag coefficient of both solid and gas phase, the shape of particles and the compressibility factor, which is very important for deep-sea mining, have been incorporated in the governing equations. The application of the computational algorithm to different geometry and flow conditions of an airlift pump leads to the optimization of the system. The numerical simulation results clearly show a very good agreement with experimental and computational data of other researchers. The analysis methods have been combined in an easily used computer code which is a very useful tool for the optimum design of airlift pump systems.

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