Performance Evaluation and CFD Simulation of Multiphase Twin-Screw Pumps



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Twin-screw pumps are economical alternatives to the conventional multiphase system and are increasingly used in the oil and gas industry due to their versatility in transferring the multiphase mixture with varying Gas Void Fraction (GVF). Present work focuses on the experimental and numerical analysis of twin-screw pumps for different operating conditions. Experimental evaluation aims to understand steady state and transient behavior of twin-screw pumps. Detailed steady state evaluation helped form better understanding of twin-screw pumps under different operating conditions. A comparative study of twin-screw pumps and compressors contradicted the common belief that compressor efficiency is better than the efficiency of twin-screw pumps. Transient analysis at high GVF helped incorporate necessary changes in the design of sealflush recirculation loop to improve the efficiency of the pump. The effect of viscosity of the sealflush fluid at high GVF on pump performance was studied. Volumetric efficiency was found to be decreased with increase in viscosity.

Flow visualization was aimed to characterize phase distribution along cavities and clearances at low to high GVF. Dynamic pressure variation was studied along the axis of the screw which helped correlate the GVF, velocity and pressure distribution.

Complicated fluid flow behavior due to enclosed fluid pockets and interconnecting clearances makes it difficult to numerically simulate the pump. Hence design optimization and performance prediction incorporates only analytical approach and experimental evaluation. Current work represents an attempt to numerically simulate a multiphase twin-screw pump as a whole. Single phase 3D CFD simulation was performed for different pressure rise. The pressure and velocity profile agreed well with previous studies. Results are validated using an analytical approach as well as experimental data. A two-phase CFD simulation was performed for 50% GVF. An Eulerian approach was employed to evaluate multiphase flow behavior. Pressure, velocity, temperature and GVF distributions were successfully predicted using CFD simulation. Bubble size was found to be most dominant parameter, significantly affecting phase separation and leakage flow rate. Better phase separation was realized with increased bubble size, which resulted in decrease in leakage flow rate. CFD results agreed well with experimental data for the bubble size higher than 0.08 mm.