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BREAKTHROUGH CURVE

Breakthrough curve is a graph that plot of relative concentration versus time,


where relative concentration is defined as C/Co with C as the concentration at a
point in the ground-water flow domain, and Co as the source concentration.
Other than that, it also can known as a plot of tracer concentration, C, versus
time, t, for a ground-water tracing study in karst conduit for the purpose of
quantitatively determining how much tracer mass was recovered, mean time of
travel, mean tracer flow velocity, and related hydraulic flow and geometric
parameters.

Breakthrough

curve

is also

called

recovery

curve,

tracer

breakthrough curve and tracer-recovery curve.


Progress of the Mass Transfer Zone through a fixed bed for a single adsorbate in
fluid is shown below:

A graph that plot of the concentration profile of adsorbate in the fluid phase as a
function of distance along the adsorbent bed. It is difficult to follow the progress
of mass transfer zone inside a column packed with adsorbent due to it is difficult
to make meaningful measurements of parameters other than temperature.
Breakthrough is not occurring when measuring the concentration of adsorbate in
the fluid as it leaves the fixed bed which is not undesirable.

Upstream of the profile also known as mass transfer wave, the adsorbent is
saturated (in equilibrium) with the adsorbate when it is spent. Downstream of
the profile, the adsorbent is still adsorbate-free. The leading point of the wave is
zero if the adsorbent is initially completely free from the adsorbate. The tail end
of the wave is at CF (the feed solute concentration in the feed) at the entrance of
the bed.
At the t1, no part of the bed is saturated. From t 1 to t2, the wave had moved down
the bed. Then at time t2, the bed is almost saturated for a distance L s, but is still
clean at LF. Little adsorption occurs beyond L F at time t2, and the adsorbent is still
unused. The MASS TRANSFER ZONE where adsorption takes place is the region
between LS and LF. The concentration of the adsorbate on the adsorbent is
related to the adsorbate concentration in the feed by the thermodynamic
equilibrium. Because it is difficult to determine where MASS TRANSFER ZONE
begins and ends, LF can be taken where C/CF = 0.05, with LS at C/CF = 0.95.
At time tB, the wave has moved through the bed, with the leading point of the
mass transfer zone just reaches the end of the bed. This is known as
the breakthrough point. Rather than using C/CF = 0.05, the breakthrough
concentration

can

be

taken

as

the minimum

detectable

or

maximum

allowable solute concentration in the effluent fluid, e.g. as dictated by


downstream processing unit.
As breakthrough continues the concentration of the adsorbate in the effluent
increases gradually up to the feed value C F. When this has occurred no more
adsorption can take place in the bed.
A typical plot of the ratio of outlet solute concentration to inlet solute
concentration in the fluid as a function of time from the start of flow is shown.
The S-shaped curve is called the breakthrough curve.

Prior to tB, the outlet solute concentration is less than the maximum allowable of
0.05. At tB, this value is reached, and the adsorption step should be discontinued.
If the adsorption step were to be continued for t > t B, the outlet solute
concentration will rise rapidly, eventually approaching the inlet concentration as
entire bed become saturated. The time required to each C out/CF = 0.95 is
designated tE.
The steepness of

the

breakthrough

curve

determines

the extent

to

which the capacity of an adsorbent bed can be utilised. Thus, the shape of the
curve is very important in determining the length of the adsorption bed. In actual
practice, the steepness of the concentration profiles shown previously can
increase or decrease, depending on the type of adsorption isotherm involved.
The favourable isotherm of the Langmuir or Freundlich type is showed that the
high concentration regions move faster than the low concentration regions, and
the wave front steepens with time until a constant pattern front is developed.

The bed length, bed void fraction, process gas flow rate and pellet diameter are
four of the more sensitive parameters. Bed length and process gas flow rate are
fixed by design, so it is our recommendation that the bed void fraction be
measured more accurately and minimized to increase the breakthrough time of
the column. A more accurate estimate of the bed void fraction would greatly
enhance the accuracy of our model. We also suggest that the pellet diameter be
minimized as much as allowable, avoiding a large pressure drop across the
purifier. Currently there is an assortment of pellet sizes in the adsorption
column, which diminishes the accuracy of that parameter as well.

FACTOR AFFECTING THE BREAKTHROUGH CURVE IN MASS TRANSFER


PROCESS
1. Effect of flow rate
As the flow rate increases, the time of breakthrough point decreases. This is
because the residence time of solute in the bed decreases. Therefore, there is no
enough time for adsorption equilibrium to be reached which results in lower bed
utilization and the adsorbate solution leaves the column before equilibrium. It is
expected that the change in flow rate will affect the film diffusion but not the
intra-particle diffusion. The higher the flow rates, the smaller film resistance to
mass transfer.
2. Effect of bed height
The bed height is one of the major parameter in the design of fixed bed
adsorption column. At smaller bed height, the C e/Coincrease more rapidly than at
higher bed height. Furthermore, at smaller bed height the bed is saturated in less
time compared with the higher bed height. Increasing the bed height at constant
flow rate increases Peclet numbers. When Peclet number is small, the effect of
axial dispersion is not negligible; the break point appears early and increases
with the Peclet number. Hence, the internal and external resistance are
confirmed to be the main parameters that control the adsorption kinetics with
the increase in bed height. It is clear that increasing bed height increases the
breakthrough time and the residence time of the solution in the bed.
3. Effect of initial concentration
The change in initial concentration will have a significant effect on the
breakthrough curve. As the initial concentration increases, the time of
breakthrough point decreases. The higher the initial concentration, the faster the
breakthrough curves; however, the activated carbon loadings are higher at
higher initial concentration. For high initial concentration, steeper breakthrough
curves are found because the equilibrium is attained faster.

CONCLUSION
As a conclusion, prediction of the breakthrough performance of column
adsorption requires solution of appropriate mass transfer rate equation with
boundary conditions imposed by the differential fluid phase mass balance. For
systems which obey a Langmuir isotherm and for which the controlling resistance
to mass transfer is macropore or zeolitic diffusion, the set of non-linear equations
must be solved numerically. Solutions have been obtained for saturation and
regeneration of adsorption columns. Predicted breakthrough curve are compared
with experimental data for sorption of type A

zeolite

and

the

model

satisfactorily describes column performances. Under comparable conditions,


column regeneration is slower than saturation. This is a consequence of
nonlinearities of the system and does not imply any differences in intrinsic rate
constant.
REFERENCES
1. zinn, B. A. june, 2003. Breakthrough Curve. Retrieved from Mass Transfer and
Dispersion

Processes

Visualization.

in

Connected

Conductivity

Delineation

Structures:

and

Simulation,
Application:

http://dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/handle/1721.1/29584/52872563.pdf?
sequence=1
2. Garg, D.R. & Ruthen, D.M. 1973. Theoritical Prediction of Breakthrough Curve
for Molecular Sieve Adsorption Columns. Department of Chemical Engineering,
University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, N. B., Canada
3.

Zeinali,

F.,

Ghoreyshi,

A.A.

&

Najafpour,

G.D.

2010.

Adsorption

of

Dichloromethane From Aqueous Phase Using Granular Activated Carbon:


Isotherm & Breakthrough Curve Measurements. Middle-East Journal of Scientific
Research 5(4): 191-198. Iran