Francisco R. M. da Mota1, Daniel J. Pagano 2, Agustinho Plucenio3

Copyright 2012, Brazilian Petroleum, Gas and Biofuels Institute - IBP
This Technical Paper was prepared for presentation at the Rio Oi & Gas Expo and Conference 2012, held between September, 1720, 2012, in Rio de Janeiro. This Technical Paper was selected for presentation by the Technical Committee of the event according to the information contained in the final paper submitted by the author(s). The organizers are not supposed to translate or correct the submitted papers. The material as it is presented, does not necessarily represent Brazilian Petroleum, Gas and Biofuels Institute’ opinion, or that of its Members or Representatives. Authors consent to the publication of this Technical Paper in the Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012 Proceedings.

The aim of the present study is to contribute some knowledge of phase separation phenomena of gas-liquid turbulent flow in curved pipe and provide a basis for the development of an inline gas-liquid separator and flow pattern conditioning device. The turbulent flow development was simulated by using the k-ε standard turbulence model. A finite volume method with an unstructured nonuniform mesh was employed for solving the model.

1. Introduction
Currently, there is a considerable number of researchers looking for new techniques (or improving old ones) to measure the quantity of water, oil and gas in multiphase flows. However the accuracy of measurement is usually dependent on the flow regime (physical distribution of the constituents in the pipe cross section). Thus, there is a need also to develop techniques (or devices) capable of providing such information. Some pipe singularities are known to act as gas-liquid separator. Pipe Tees, for instance, have been used by the oil industry as phase splitters or partial separator, in order to reduce the size of conventional units and to damp several flow stabilities. U bend pipe curves may also act as phase separation if property designed. In this case, the main driving mechanism promoting the phase separation is the centrifugal field created by the turning flow. The gas, the lighter phase, displaces to the inner curve region and the liquid stays along the outer path. If just one U curve is not enough to provide the necessary time period for the complete phase segregation, a secession of U bend curves, forming a helical path, can be used instead. Therefore, the main objective of this work is to provide the basis for developing a new type of inline gas-liquid separator (phase segregation) with the intention of using it as flow pattern conditioning device. 1.1. Characteristics of Curved Pipe In the present analysis, we consider helical pipes which are horizontally oriented, i.e., where the coil axis is horizontal, Figure 1. The pipe has an inner diameter, . The coil diameter (measured between the centers of the pipes) is represented by and the distance between two adjacent turns, is called pitch, . The ratio of pipe diameter to coil diameter ( ⁄ ) is called curvature ratio, . The ratio of pitch to developed length of one turn ( ⁄ ) is termed nondimensional pitch, . Consider the projection of the coil on a plane passing through the axis of the coil; the angle, which projection of one turn of coil makes with a plane perpendicular to the axis, is called the helix angle, . For any crosssection of the pipe, created by a plane passing through the coil axis, the side of pipe wall nearest to the coil axis is termed inner side (IS) and the farthest side is termed as outer side (OS).

______________________________ 1 Doctoral Student, DAS - UFSC 2 Dr. Prof., DAS – UFSC 3 Dr. Prof., PRH34 ANP/MCT

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Figure 1. Helical pipe configuration 1.2. Phase Separation Phenomena in Curved Pipe Single or multiphase flows in curved pipes are frequently encountered in industry, for example, gas-solid two phase flow in the turning of pneumatic conveying pipelines, oil-gas two-phase flow or oil-gas-water three-phase flow in helically coiled tube heat exchangers in petroleum and chemical industries. Phase separation occurs in all kinds of curved pipe because of the difference in the inherent centrifugal force, gravity force and secondary flow effect between heavy and light phases (Gao et al, 1999). When flow enters the curved position, due to the centrifugal action the heavier density phase, i.e., liquid is subjected to larger centrifugal force which causes liquid to move away from the center of curvature while the gas flows toward the center. This process is continuous function of coil geometry (Das and Mandal, 2003). Issa and Oliveira (1993) developed a predictive numeric method to evaluate phase separation phenomena in two-phase flow through T-junctions. Contours of the volume-fraction revealed the presence of a pocket of high gas concentration at the entrance to the side arm, similar to that found in experiments. Azzopardi (2000) used a T-junction to perform gas-liquid partial separation. His results showed good agreement with Issa and Oliveira (1993). Gao et al (1993) investigated (numerically and experimentally) liquid-solid separation of two-phase turbulent flow in a curved channel. The liquid-solid two-phase flows in two-dimensional (2D) curved channels were numerically simulated using a two-way coupling Euler-Lagrangian scheme. Phase distribution characteristics of 2D curved channel two-phase flow were examined under conditions of different particle size, liquid flow rate and coil curvature. They conclude that separation efficiency maybe increased by utilizing high liquid flow rate and tight curvature along with increasing number of coils, and hence the pressure loss over the separator would be increased as a sacrifice. The authors conclude too that the phase separation is a result of combined effects of centrifugal force, various hydraulic forces, secondary flow and turbulence dispersion. Centrifugal force, which moving particles from inner bend to outer bend, is the prime driving force for separation; drag force and pressure gradient force play an opposite role for separation. Lift force is notable near the wall and helpful to separation, while turbulence dispersion and secondary flow have negative effect on separation. Jun et al (2008) studied (numerically and experimentally) oil-water flow through a helical pipe to develop a combination-type oil-water separator. The Euler-Euler method and the Euler model were applied to conduct the numerical simulation and a discrete phase model to describe the two-phase flow inside the separator. They conclude that the separation efficiency of helical pipes is the function of curvature radius, resident time, pressure at the inlet and outlet, density difference between phases, liquid droplet diameter, etc. The centrifugal force is directly proportional to the square of flow rate inside tubes, while inversely proportional to the curvature radius. Thus, increasing flow rate and reducing curvature radius can effectively improve separation efficiency.

2. Numerical Simulation Parameters and Conditions
2.1. Basic Equations In this work was used the Euler–Euler multiphase formulation model of ANSYS-CFX V.12.0. Water, oil and gas are considered as isothermal, unmiscible and incompressible fluids. The tree-phase mixture is assumed oil continuous, with water and gas being considered dispersed phases in the form of spherical droplets and bubbles in the computed flow (ANSYS-CFX User guide, 2009). The momentum equation for a fluid phase is
( ) ( ( )) ( ( ( ) )) ∑ ( )


where , and are the volume fraction, density and viscosity of the phase ( ), respectively. describes momentum sources due to external body forces and describes the interfacial forces acting on phase due to the 2

Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012 presence of other phases. The term ( ) represents momentum transfer induced by interphase mass transfer and was set to zero for the purpose of this study. The total force on phase due to interaction with other phases is denoted , and is give by


where the is the interphase momentum transfer due to interfacial forces acting on each phase due to interaction with another phase . The total interfacial force acting between two phases arises from several independent physical effects (3) A predominant term for momentum transfer between the oil and water phases in the inhomogeneous multiphase flow is the drag force. The drag exerted on a immersed body by moving fluid arises from two mechanisms. The first is due to the viscous surface shear stress, called skin friction. The second is due to the pressure distribution around the body, called form drag. The total dag force is most conveniently expressed in terms of the dimensionless drag coefficient, (Vilagines et al, 2010). The equation of continuity for multiphase flows is
( ) ( ) ∑


where describes user specified mass sources and represent the mass flow rate per unit volume from phase to phase . Since no interphase mass transfer is assumed, these terms were set to zero in this work. The sum of the volume fractions of all the phases must be equal to unity all over the flow domain ( ∑ ). This equation is combined with the continuity equation to obtain a transported volume conservation equation and, for incompressible phases with no source term, it simplifies into


2.2. Turbulence Model The model was selected in the turbulence calculation.
( ( ) ) ( ( ) ) [( [( ) ) ] ] ( )

(6) (7) ; , , and are constants. is the

where is the turbulent kinetic energy, turbulence production.

is the dissipation rate of

2.3. Mesh, Boundary Conditions and Solver Setup The 3D helical pipe consists of a 360° part with a coil radius of preceded and followed by a straight parts with length of and , respectively. The volume cells (mesh) were created using the ANSYS CFX-12 Meshing. This mesh is generated to discretize the calculation domain, dividing it into small volumes where numerical approximations are made. To test the conservative property of the CFX code, the mesh independency test was carried out for different mesh size, which is shown in Figure 2. The geometrics parameters and the characteristics of the meshes used can be found in Table 2 and Table 3, respectively.


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Figure 2. Unstructured meshes topology Table 1. Geometrical parameters of helical circular pipe






Table 2. Mesh characteristics for independency test

Mesh 1 2 3 4 5

Elements 2,598,162 3,632,862 4,667,562 5,702,262 6,736,962

Nodes 1,151,631 1,669,311 2,186,971 2,704,641 3,222,311

Tetrahedrons 528,762 528,762 528,762 528,762 528,762

Prisms 2,069,400 3,104,100 4,138,800 5,173,500 6,208,200

Once the mash was generated, boundaries of computational domain were specified. Boundary type specifications define the physical and operational characteristics of the model at those topological entities that represent model boundaries. All wall conditions were assumed to be no slip boundary. The no slip condition ( ) is the appropriate condition for the velocity component at solid walls (Versteeg and Malalasekera, 2007). Flow rate inlet and pressure outlet ( ) were adopted. At the inlet, mass flow rate for each phase ware prescribed. The phases ware clearly defined with the primary phase as oil and the secondary phases as gas and water. The volume fraction and density of each phase were both prescribed at the inlet. The secondary phases were characterized by a droplet diameter (water) and bubble diameter (gas). Since this study involved incompressible flows, no change was made to the pressure location. Gravity was enabled. The multiphase flow at the curved pipe inlet is assumed as a perfectly mixed phases and flow composition computed at the outlet is driven by the separation process. The commercial CFD software, ANSYS CFX-12, was used to solve the discretized algebraic equations by finite volume method. In this application the hydrodynamic equations for velocities and pressure are solved coupling, as a single system. For this reason, the discretization equations for any time step, is the result of an implicit scheme. The numerical computation was considered converged when the residual summed over all the computation nodes at iteration, , satisfies the following criterion: ⁄ , where denotes the maximum residual value of variable after iterations.


Rio Oil & Gas Expo and Conference 2012 The main physical parameters of the simulating mixture can be found in Table 3. Table 3. Flow properties

Density Viscosity Volume Fraction [%] 3. Simulation Results and Analysis

Oil 762.0 0.689 0.25

Water 998.0 0.353 0.25

Gas 48.0 0.014 0.5

3.1. Mesh Independent Test The mesh independent test was executed in order to obtain a mesh calculation that provides sufficiently accurate information for the type of analysis performed here, with minimal computational effort. For a definition of mesh which would be used, was compared the results of axial velocity (velocity in main flow direction), obtained from the solution with each mesh. Figures 3 represent the calculation of mean squared normalized error of horizontal and vertical velocity profile, at five different planes allocated in the pipe geometry, for the meshes 1, 2, 3 and 4 when compared to the mesh 5. The third mesh was considered sufficiently refined to the problem. Thus, all simulations were carried out using this mesh topology.

Figure 3. Mean squared normalized error of horizontal and vertical axial velocity obtained from meshes 1, 2, 3 and 4. 3.2. Gas Volume Fraction Distribution A systematical study of gas-liquid three-phase flow in 3D curved pipes was numerically performed. Gas phase distribution in the flow through the helical pipe was presented for various flow conditions and different pipe geometries. Figures 4 and 5 illustrate the distribution of gas volume fraction along the helical duct and a straight pipe of the same length. As expected theoretically, there is an accumulation of fluid due to gravity, in the lower region along the straight pipe. But what you realize is the formation of a flow pattern characterized by a greater accumulation of fluid flowing along the lower wall and along the cross section, a gas-liquid mixture. However, for the flow inside the helical pipe, one sees clearly that, from a quarter turn the flow pattern can be considered as a stratified flow with a gas-liquid interface very well defined. This phenomenon, usually called segregation or phase separation, is basically caused by the constant change of direction imposed on the flow and by centrifuge force acting in a different way in the gas phase and liquid phases: the denser fluid (liquid) is pushed toward the outer wall and less dense, to the inner wall.


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Figure 4. Gas volume fraction along a straight pipe and a helical pipe. ⁄ ⁄

Figure 5. Gas volume fraction for different pipe cross sections along a straight pipe (a) and a helical pipe (b). ⁄ ⁄

4. Conclusion
A numerical study of 3D curved pipe three-phase flow was conducted to enhance the understanding of gasliquid separation phenomena and improve the curved pipe separation technique. The analysis results showed that centrifugal force is the prime driving force for separation. Previous studies (Mota et al, 2011a,b,c) showed that the separation efficiency may be increased by utilizing high liquid flow rate and tight curvature, because the centrifugal force is directly proportional to the square of flow rate inside pipes, while inversely proportional to the curvature radius. At the same time, high flow rate means high-pressure drop, and the enhanced turbulent disturbance can affect negatively the separation process.

5. Acknowledgements
The authors thank the financial support given by the National Petroleum Gas and Biofuels Agency (ANP) through the
PRH-34 Program.


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6. References
ANSYS-CFX: User Guide, 2009. ANSYS Inc. AZZOPARDI, B. J. and REA, S. Phase separation using a simple T-junction. SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, 2000a. AZZOPARDI, B. J. Phase separation at T-junctions. Multiphase Science and Technology, V. 11, pp. 223-329, 2000b. DAS, S. K. and MANDAL, S. N. Gas-liquid flow through coils. Korean J. Chem. Eng., V. 20, pp. 624-630, 2003. GAO, Hui; GUO, Leijin and ZHANG, Ximin. Liquid-solid separation phenomena of two-phase turbulent flow in curved pipes. International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer, V. 45, pp. 4995-5005, 1999. ISSA, R. I. and OLIVEIRA, P. J. Numerical prediction of phase separation in two-phase flow through T-junctions. Computers Fluids, V. 23, pp. 347-372, 1994. JUN, Zhang et al. An investigation on oil/water separation mechanism inside helical pipes. Conference of Global Chinese Scholars on Hydrodynamics, 2008. MOTA, F. R. M; PAGANO. D. J. And PLUCENIO A. Numerical simulation of curved pipe used as an inlet device of a gravitational separator to reduce the residence time. Rio Pipeline Conference & Exposition,2011. MOTA, F. R. M; PAGANO. D. J. And PLUCENIO A. Fenômeno de separação gás-líquido (água-óleo) em dutos helicoidais: um estudo CFD. 6° Congresso Brasileiro de Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento em Petróleo e Gás - 6° PDPETRO, 2011. MOTA, F. R. M; PAGANO. D. J. And PLUCENIO A. Análise CFD do efeito da geometria na separação gás-líquido (água-óleo) em dutos helicoidais. 6° Congresso Brasileiro de Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento em Petróleo e Gás - 6° PDPETRO, 2011. VERSTEEG, A. E. and MALALASEKERA, W. An Introduction to Computational Fluid Dynamics: the Finite Volum Method. 2ed. Pearson Educational Limited, 2007.