Fractal Distribution


ARi is the inventor of fractal technology for the distribution and collection of fluids. Fluid distribution is a common requirement in processes such as chromatography, ion exchange, distillation, and other applications where plug flow characteristics are important. In these processes, effective fluid distribution is necessary to maximize efficiency and performance.

Conventional methods for fluid distribution typically involve turbulence – fluid may be jetted from a nozzle, the distribution may be aided by splashing or stirring, or high pressure drop may be used to control the flow. Fractal distributors can be used as functional alternatives to turbulence, replacing the uncontrolled characteristics of turbulence with the precise geometry of engineered fractals. This provides effective fluid distribution with minimal energy use.

Fractal distributors are designed to exhibit symmetry at every scale. Any individual fluid path from the center inlet to an exit point can be used to generate all other paths, creating universal path symmetry. This results in equivalent hydraulics (equivalent flow rate, equivalent time of passage, and equivalent pressure drop) to each exit point, providing plug flow characteristics. Fractals operate with very low pressure drop and large turndown, with a typical turndown ratio of 10 to 1.

The symmetry of fractal distributors ensures that their performance will not vary from small to large scale. This overcomes scale-up problems often encountered when taking a process from pilot to full-scale operation. ARi has designed fractal distributors ranging from a pilot-scale diameter of a few centimeters to an industrial-scale diameter of over 20 feet, while maintaining the distributor performance.

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