Fluid Separations Projects


Modelling column packing using the QSAR method

Structured and random column packings are utilized in numerous industry applications such as distillation and absorption processes for their ability to create large interfacial areas. Currently, column packings are mainly characterized by their specific surface areas and porosities. However, these two figures alone are insufficient for an accurate prediction of hydraulics and mass-transfer properties. For current modeling approaches it is therefore necessary to introduce further empirical, packing-specific constants. 

The aim of this project is to adapt the “Quantitative Structure Activity Relationship” approach (QSAR) from pharmaceutical industry and apply it on column packing modelling. Using this QSAR approach, a reduction in necessary empirical modeling constants for pressure drop modelling shall be achieved and the developed model shall be used for packing optimizations.

For applying the QSAR approach a dataset of 36 structured packings will be recorded at the absorption column pilot plant (DN450) at the chair of process technology and industrial environmental protection. Data analysis will be done in collaboration with the Pharmacoinformatics research group of Vienna University.

Adaption of QSAR-approach to packings

Contact Person:
Verena Wolf-Zöllner

Eurostars Projekt HiPaSEED

SO2 emissions from marine ship engines are subject of stricter abatement regulations. Commonly, flue gases are treated by absorption in packed scrubbers utilizing seawater as washing agent. However, state-of-the-art packings do not match the key demands on board of marine ships: high hydraulic capacities while being space saving and highly efficient for mass transfer.

Within the eurostars research-project “HiPaSEED”, new high-performance tower packings tailored for this distinct application will be developed based on proper modelling of the absorption system, CFD simulations and experimental validations.

Due to the industry-oriented nature of the research project, results will find direct application in existing and novel products: As main outcome a new tower packing tailored for seawater desulfurization on ships will be available to the market.

Mass transfer system: seawater – exhaust gas of ships

Contact Person:
Verena Wolf-Zöllner

Standardization of hydraulic and mass transfer measurements in absorption:

In VDI guideline 2761-2, a large consortium of industry and university from Germany, Switzerland and Austria has already described the preferred method of hydraulic and mass transfer measurements for the characterization of packings in absorption columns.

In this project, the comparability of the package characterization is to be shown based on the specifications of this VDI guideline using the test facilities at the University of Leoben, the UCT Prague and the Separation Research Program at the UT Austin. In addition, this project is intended to investigate whether the VDI guideline already describes all influencing factors adequately or whether other influencing parameters may have to be considered.

In a further step, the different sampling methods for mass transfer measurements (integral or local) are to be examined in detail and an evaluation method for local mass exchange measurement is to be developed in order to develop a rigorous model for mass transfer processes in packing columns.


Local gas sampling directly below and above the packing in the two-phase area

Contact Person:
Verena Wolf-Zöllner