This work develops a methodology based on real chemical plant data collected from a Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium fertilizer (NPK) cooling rotary drum. By blending thermodynamic variables given by global energy and mass balances with computational fluid dynamics-discrete element method (CFD-DEM) modeling and simulation, the methodology provides an initial approximation to the understanding of heat transfer inside industry rotary coolers. The NPK cooling process was modeled in CFD software Simcenter STAR − CCM + 13.06.011 using a Eulerian–Lagrangian scheme through a coupled CFD-DEM method using one-way coupling. The average temperature of the NPK particles was obtained as well as the average mass flow of the particles dropping as the drum was rotating. The analysis was performed for two-particle diameters (8 and 20 mm) during 17.5 s. The average heat transfer coefficient between the fluid and the NPK particles during the simulated time was obtained. A thermodynamic analysis was carried out using instantaneous energy and mass balances. Prandtl, Nusselt, and Reynolds numbers were obtained for each simulated time step. Finally, through a non-linear regression using the Marquardt method, a correlation between Prandtl, Nusselt, and Reynolds number was developed that allowed analyzing the rotating drum. Results showed that the proposed methodology could serve as a useful tool during the design and analysis of any given rotary cooler, allowing calculation of the heat transfer coefficient and obtaining the process variables that could expand the machine operational capabilities due to the knowledge of the Nusselt number as a function of the drum working parameters.
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