Experimental and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) studies of gas-liquid flow in bends

Abdulkadir, Mukhtar. (2011) Experimental and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) studies of gas-liquid flow in bends. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Within the oil industry there is a need to measure and predict the form of the multiphase liquid and gas flows that are present within oil production and processing pipelines. Knowledge of the flow regimes present allows the engineer to optimise the configuration of the pipeline and downstream processes to achieve the most, economic and reliable design. The applications of these technologies are collectively known as flow assurance. Within oil production systems, one component which has received little attention is the characterisation of the multiphase flow around bends under various process conditions. To predict the flow regimes in greater details requires the development of instrumentation that can measure and characterise the flow within the pipes.

To circumvent this challenge, two experimental investigations were carried out in two rigs available in the Chemical and Environmental Engineering Laboratories at the University of Nottingham. These are: (1) a 67 mm internal diameter pipe joined to a 90o bend, in which air/silicone oil flows were investigated using advanced instrumentation: Electrical Capacitance Tomography (ECT), Wire Mesh Sensor Tomography (WMS), and high-speed video. The first two provide time and cross-sectionally resolved data on void fraction. The ECT probes were mounted 10 diameters upstream of the bend whilst the WMS was positioned either immediately upstream or immediately downstream of the bend. The downstream pipe was maintained horizontal whilst the upstream pipe was mounted either vertically or horizontally. The bend (R/D = 2.3) was made of transparent acrylic resin. The superficial velocities of the air ranged from 0.05 to 4.73 ms-1 and for the silicone oil from 0.05 to 0.38 ms-1. (2) a 127 mm internal diameter riser joined to a vertical 180o bend, in which measurements of film fraction and liquid film thickness distribution for an air-water system were obtained using the electrical conductance technique. The former was measured using the ring conductance probes placed 17 and 21 diameters, respectively upstream and downstream of the bend, 45o, 90o and 135o within the bend. The latter were obtained using pin and parallel wire probes. The pin probes were used for thin films measurement whilst the parallel wire probes for thick films. The bend, made of transparent acrylic resin, has a curvature ratio (R/D = 3). The superficial velocities of the air ranged from 3.5 to 16.1 ms-1 and for the water from 0.02 to 0.2 ms-1.

The experimental results for the 90o bend study reveal that bubble/spherical cap bubble, slug, unstable slug and churn flows were observed before the bend for the vertical pipe and plug, slug, stratified wavy and annular flows when the pipe was horizontal. Bubble, stratified wavy, slug, semi-annular and annular flows are seen after the bend for the vertical 90o bend, the flow patterns remained the same as before the horizontal 90o bend. These results were confirmed by the high-speed videos taken around the bend. For the vertical 180o return bend, the average film fraction was identified to be higher in straight pipes than in bends. For low liquid and higher gas flow rates, due to the action of gravity drainage, film breakdown occurs at the 45o bend. A previously proposed criterion, to determine stratification after the 90o bend, based on a modified Froude number have been shown to be valid for a liquid different from that tested in the original paper. Similarly, for the 180o return bend, the condition for which the liquid goes either to the inside or outside of the bend are identified based on published material. Variations between average liquid film thickness and bend angles are reported for the vertical 180o bend. Contrary to the conclusions reached by Hills (1973) and Anderson and Hills (1974), the liquid film thickness becomes annular flow in the 180o bend at low liquid flow rates and stratified flow at higher liquid superficial velocities.

In addition, a CFD code has been used to successfully model the hydrodynamics of the slug flow pattern in a riser and vertical 90o bend, using the Volume of Fluid model based on the Eulerian approach, implemented in the commercial CFD package Star-CCM+. The modelling results are validated with the experiments and also provide more detailed information on the flow such as the velocity field.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Azzopardi, B.J.
Lowndes, I.S.
Keywords: Multiphase flow, gas-liquid interfaces, pipe bending
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Engineering > Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering
Item ID: 12218
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 08 May 2012 12:59
Last Modified: 15 Dec 2017 05:54
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/12218

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