Investigation of Swirl Flows Applied to the Oil and Gas Industry
Ravuri Venkata Krish, Meher Surendra
MetadataShow full item record
Understanding how swirl flows can be applied to processes in the oil and gas industry and how problems might hinder them, are the focus of this thesis. Three application areas were identified: wet gas metering, liquid loading in gas wells and erosion at pipe bends due to sand transport. For all three areas, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations were performed. Where available, experimental data were used to validate the CFD results. As a part of this project, a new test loop was conceived for the investigation of sand erosion in pipes. The results obtained from CFD simulations of two-phase (air-water) flow through a pipe with a swirl-inducing device show that generating swirl flow leads to separation of the phases and creates distinct flow patterns within the pipe. This effect can be used in each of the three application areas of interest. For the wet gas metering application, a chart was generated, which suggests the location of maximum liquid deposition downstream of the swirling device used in the ANUMET meter. This will allow taking pressure and phase fraction measurements (from which the liquid flow rate can be determined) where they are most representative of the flow pattern assumed for the ANUMET calculation algorithms. For the liquid loading application, which was taken as an upscaling of the dimensions investigated for the wet gas metering application, the main focus was on the liquid hold-up. This parameter is defined as the ratio of the flowing area occupied by liquid to the total area. Results obtained with CFD simulations showed that as the water rate increases, the liquid hold-up increases, implying a more effective liquid removal. Thus, it was concluded that the introduction of a swirler can help unload liquid from a gas well, although no investigation was carried out on the persistance of the swirl motion downstream of the device. For the third and final application, the erosion at pipe bends due to sand transport, the main focus was to check the erosion rate on the pipe wall with and without the introduction of a swirler. The erosion rate was predicted by CFD simulations. The flow that was investigated consisted of a liquid phase with solid particles suspended in it. The CFD results showed a significant reduction in erosion rate at the pipe walls when the swirler was introduced, which could translate into an extended working life for the pipe. An extensive literature review performed on this topic, complemented by the CFD simulations, showed the need for a dedicated multiphase test loop for the investigation of sand erosion in horizontal pipes and at bends. The design of a facility of this type is included in this thesis. The results obtained with this work are very encouraging and provide a broad perspective of applications of swirl flows and CFD for the oil and gas industry.