Abstract: Detailed process and equipment knowledge is crucial for the successful production of biopharmaceuticals. An essential part is the characterization of equipment for which Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is an important tool. While the steady, Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes (RANS) k − ε approach has been extensively reviewed in the literature and may be used for fast equipment characterization in terms of power number determination, transient schemes have to be further investigated and validated to gain more detailed insights into flow patterns because they are the method of choice for mixing time simulations. Due to the availability of commercial solvers, such as M-Star CFD, Lattice Boltzmann simulations have recently become popular in the industry, as they are easy to set up and require relatively low computing power. However, extensive validation studies for transient Lattice Boltzmann Large Eddy Simulations (LB LES) are still missing. In this study, transient LB LES were applied to simulate a 3 L bioreactor system. The results were compared to novel 4D particle tracking (4D PTV) experiments, which resolve the motion of thousands of passive tracer particles on their journey through the bioreactor. Steady simulations for the determination of the power number followed a structured workflow, including grid studies and rotating reference frame volume studies, resulting in high prediction accuracy with less than 11% deviation, compared to experimental data. Likewise, deviations for the transient simulations were less than 10% after computational demand was reduced as a result of prior grid studies. The time averaged flow fields from LB LES were in good accordance with the novel 4D PTV data. Moreover, 4D PTV data enabled the validation of transient flow structures by analyzing Lagrangian particle trajectories. This enables a more detailed determination of mixing times and mass transfer as well as local exposure times of local velocity and shear stress peaks. For the purpose of standardization of common industry CFD models, steady RANS simulations for the 3 L vessel were included in this study as well.
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