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What is Area per Unit Volume?

Raschig rings column packing

Area per unit volume is sometimes referred to as "specific surface" although this refers to the area per unit mass (in industries involving liquids with approximately unit density, e.g. water and dilute water-based solutions, the units of mass and volume are sometimes used interchangeably). A better term is "surface area to volume ratio". Area per unit volume has the dimensions of reciprocal length.

The most common applications of area per unit volume are the determination of surface area to volume ratio. This could refer to the properties of a particular shape, or in particulate systems to the amount of particle surface area per unit volume of the fluid carrying the particles.

In chemical engineering, the surface area to volume ratio of column packing materials is significant, particularly when selecting commercially manufactured packing. In addition to being a function of the shape of the particles it may be a function of how the packing is assembled, for example whether the items are individually placed or simply dumped.

Surface area volume ratios are significant in predicting surface reaction rates and in heat transfer calculations.

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