You are currently viewing Wetted Wall Column Experiment and set up | Wetted Wall Column – Center for Energy Resources Engineering

Wetted Wall Column Experiment and set up | Wetted Wall Column – Center for Energy Resources Engineering

A wetted wall column is used to study the distillation, gas absorption, and vaporization operation of various chemical systems, to obtain data and correlation between components present in different phases which exist in equilibrium conditions during the operation. The experiments of wetted wall columns provide data for the design of separation operations. 
The aim of the wetted wall column experiment 
Evaluation of Mass Transfer Coefficient in a wetted wall column

Objective: The rates of diffusion into gases flowing through pipes are studied in wetted wall columns.


A thin film of liquid falling down the inside of a vertical pipe through which the gas flows constitutes a wetted wall column. Wetted wall columns have been used as absorbers of Hydrochloric acid, Ammonia, Acetone, Benzene, and other volatile liquids. They have also been studied for theoretical studies for mass transfer because the interfacial surface between the phases is kept under control and is measurable.

The height of the wetted wall column required for mass transfer operations is excessive and consequently, this is not widely used, where large quantities of liquid or gas have to be handled, it would be necessary to arrange many vertical pipes in parallel and this leads to difficulties in the distribution of liquid into the inner surface of the tubes. The gas pressure drop for this is confined to skin friction effects, with few or no expansion or contraction losses

Mass transfer rates for fluids flowing through pipes have been studied more completely than in other cases.

The rates of diffusion into gases flowing through pipes have been studied in wetted wall columns.

A volatile liquid is submitted to flow down the inside surface of a circular tube, while gas flows upward or downward through the center of the pipe. Measurement of the rate of evaporation of a liquid into the gas stream over a known surface permits calculation of the mass transfer coefficient for the diffusion of vapor into the gas stream. Since the liquid is pure, the concentration gradient for diffusion exists entirely within the gas phase, the mass transfer coefficient Kg may be calculated. Sherwood and Gillard conducted a series of experiments using a variety of volatile liquids with air in a turbulent flow.

Here the mass transfer coefficient in the form of the dimensionless group is plotted against the Reynolds number of the gas for the system air-water (Sc = 60). For gases, values of Re from 2000 to 35,000 were covered and from 0.6 to 2.5 with gas pressures varying from 0.1 to 3 atm.

The equation which describes all the data for both liquid and gas flow is

(KG d/DW (PBM/P) (Kld/D) = 0.023 Re0.83 Sc1/3

This empirical relation is quite remarkable in the manner in which it generally confirms the relationship between heat mass and momentum transfer developed theoretically. However, the evaporation of the volatile liquids in a wetted wall column results in the cooling of the liquids and consequent simultaneous heat transfer between liquid and gas. The heat transfer rates are given by the equation

HD / k = 0.023 Re0.8 Pr0.3

Owing to ripples and waves on the liquid surface.
Interphase Mass Transfer 

Equipment used: Wetted Wall column unit, Humidity meter

The material used: Water


     1. Water is fed to the column at a rate at which complete wetting with a minimum of ripple formation is visible.

    2. The blower is started and the minimum flow of air is maintained.

   3. After about 5 minutes, when steady state condition reaches, the humidity of air at the inlet and outlet are determined by the readings of the wet and dry bulb thermometers and by the use of a psychometric chart.

   4. Water flow rates and inlet and outlet temperatures are noted.

   5. Vapor pressure of water at different water temperatures is calculated.

  6. Calculations are made at different flow rates and values of Kg Vs NRA are plotted on a log-log scale.


S.NoAir flow rate from M2 Qa pmWater flow rate Qw pmAir temperatureWater temperature 0CAir PD mm H20 across the orifice
InletOutletT1 T2M1 M2
Td1tw1Td2 tw2

Length of the tube =

Diameter of tube = 

From the readings, Td1, tw1 and Td2 , tw2  and from a psychometric chart,

The partial pressure of water vapor at inlet = P1 KN/m2
The partial pressure of water at the outlet         =   PB KN/m2


Mean air pressure in column P= PB *(DP1/2)X1000/13600*1.013*100/760 KN/m2

Air flow rate =
9.22 XSQRTDP2/106 kg moles/sec

Driving force at inlet of air= DpW1 = PW1 โ€“pw1


pw1 =pure component vapor pressure of water at outlet water temp T1

PW1 = Partial pressure of water at the bottom

Driving force at the outlet of the air

DpW1 = PW2 โ€“pw2


pw1 =pure component vapor pressure of water at outlet water temp T2

PW2= Partial pressure of water at the top of the column

DPwm =  (DpW1 – DpW2)/ ln (DpW1/DpW2)

Amount of water evaporated

NW = QA* (pw2/Pt โ€“ pw1/Pt)

In terms of mass transfer coefficient Kg, the rate of mass transfer is given by

 Nw = KG * A* DPwm  

where A = p DL m2 where d = i.d of column and L = Effective length of column

For each flow rate of air, Kg can be calculated.

Pam = (Pt โ€“ pw1) โ€“ (Pt โ€“Pw2)/ ln (Pt โ€“ pw1/ Pt โ€“Pw2) is also calculated

To plot Gillard correlation, Kg * (d/DW)* (Pam/Pt) * (rADw/mair0.44

Where Dw  = diffusivity of water vapor in air = 0.13X10-4 m2/sec

mair =viscosity of air = 1.85X 10-3 kg/m/sec

Nre = dG/ mair   = d.QA.AC/mair  

Ac=cross section area of the column

d = diameter of the column

Kg * (d/DW)* (Pam/Pt) * (rADw/mair0.44   Vs Are is plotted on a log-log scale.

This value is compared with reported values.


Reported value   =

Calculated value = 

Wetted Wall Column Set Up

The above setup is used to calculate the experimental mass transfer coefficient of the liquid and gas system at different temperatures and different flow rates; of course, the main application of the wetted walls is to determine the data of the gas and liquid mass transfer coefficient. 

The blower is provided with two valves at suction so that when the studies are focused on vapors of chemical substance which are stored in a storage vessel and the vapors from the vessel are sucked by the blower and passed into the column or if the vapors are required to be mixed with air than an option at the discharge line of the blower which is facilitated with nozzle helps in mixing the vapor with air.

A heater is provided at the discharge line to supply heat to the vapor or air to maintain the temperature of the system and the whole pipeline is insulated to prevent the loss, by using the rotameter, the flow rate of the vapor can be controlled.   


Related topic – click here

Aanchal Gupta

Welcome to my website! I'm Aanchal Gupta, an expert in Electrical Technology, and I'm excited to share my knowledge and insights with you. With a strong educational background and practical experience, I aim to provide valuable information and solutions related to the field of electrical engineering. I hold a Bachelor of Engineering (BE) degree in Electrical Engineering, which has equipped me with a solid foundation in the principles and applications of electrical technology. Throughout my academic journey, I focused on developing a deep understanding of various electrical systems, circuits, and power distribution networks.

Leave a Reply