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The Sherwood number (Sh) (also called the mass transfer Nusselt number) is a dimensionless number used in mass-transfer operation. It represents the ratio of convective to diffusive mass transport, and is named in honor of Thomas Kilgore Sherwood.
It is defined as follows
- L is a characteristic length (m)
- D is mass diffusivity (m2.s−1)
- K is the mass transfer coefficient (m.s−1)
For example, for a single sphere it can be expressed as:
where is the Sherwood number due only to natural convection and not forced convection.
A more specific correlation, the Froessling equation:
This form is particularly valuable to chemical engineers in situations where the Reynolds number and Schmidt number are readily available. Since Re and Sc are both dimensionless numbers, the Sherwood number is also dimensionless.
These correlations are the mass transfer analogs to heat transfer correlations of the Nusselt number in terms of the Reynolds number and Prandtl number. For a correlation for a given geometry (e.g. spheres, plates, cylinders, etc.), a heat transfer correlation (often more readily available from literature and experimental work, and easier to determine) for the Nusselt number (Nu) in terms of the Reynolds number (Re) and the Prandtl number (Pr) can be used as a mass transfer correlation by replacing the Prandtl number with the analogous dimensionless number for mass transfer, the Schmidt number, and replacing the Nusselt number with the analogous dimensionless number for mass transfer, the Sherwood number.
As an example, a heat transfer correlation for spheres is given by the Ranz-Marshall Correlation:
This correlation can be made into a mass transfer correlation using the above procedure, which yields:
This is a very concrete way of demonstrating the analogies between different forms of transport phenomena.