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# PgDip/MSc Oil and Gas Engineering/Well Engineering Fundamenta1s Topic 9:Flow Regimes

## The Robert Gordon University 2001 1

Topic 9: Flow Regimes
Review

This section is intended for use by students to acquire a knowledge and
understanding of flow regimes and fundamentals of pressure drop
calculations.
Content
Flow in Pipes
Fluid flow is characterised by the following flow regimes:
laminar: flows are stream line parallel to axis of conduit. No velocity component
normal to direction of flow;
turbulent: fluid components fluctuate in velocity in all directions;
transitional flow represents the transition boundary from laminar to turbulent.
The criteria for determining the flow regime of a fluid is the Reynolds number.
Reynolds Number
Reynolds number is calculated using Equation 1.
Equation 1.
s) - kg/m or (Ns/m Visosity
(m) Diameter,
(m/s) velocity Average
) (kg/m Density
Re
2
3
=
=
=
=

=
d
v
d v

Reynolds number is a dimensionless parameter. It is the main criteria used to define the
flow regime of a fluid. The main flow regimes that engineers are interested in are
Laminar and Turbulent flows.
If the cross sectional area is not circular, instead of d, the hydraulic diameter is used,
calculated using Equation 2.
Equation 2.
fluid) by touched parts (all
perimeter Wetted
area sectional Cross
diameter Hydraulic
=
=
=
=
R
H
R
H
P
A
d
P
xA 4
d

PgDip/MSc Oil and Gas Engineering/Well Engineering Fundamenta1s Topic 9:Flow Regimes
The Robert Gordon University 2001 2

For example, for a cube of side L, P
R
=4L.

If an annular cross section is desired then Equation 3 is used.
Equation 3.
[ ]
pipe of diameter Outer
hole of diameter Inner
=
=
+ =
d
D
d D P
R

For Bingham Plastic and Newtonian fluids the critical Reynolds number (Re
c
) is 2000.
Laminar flow occurs if Re
c
< 2000, whilst flow is turbulent if Re
c
> 2000.
For Power Law fluids the critical Reynolds number depends on the flow index (n).
Pressure Drop Calculation
The energy equation is adopted in the analysis of pressure regimes in a drilling flow
loop. The following procedures are adopted for the analysis of the pressure drop:
1. If the flow rate of a fluid is known, then the velocity needs to be determined:
A
q
v =
2. Find flow regime (laminar or turbulent) by estimating the Reynolds number:
If Re > Re
c
turbulent flow: find f from friction chart, Figure 1.
If Re < Re
c
laminar flow:
Equation 4.
Re
16
f =
3. Estimate head loss and find pressure drop due to friction using Equations 5 and 6:
Equation 5.
misc friction loss
h h h + =

Equation 6a, b
t coefficien Loss

=
= =
K
g 2
Kv
h
g 2
v
d
fL 4
h
2
misc
2
friction

L
L L
L
D
d
PgDip/MSc Oil and Gas Engineering/Well Engineering Fundamenta1s Topic 9:Flow Regimes
The Robert Gordon University 2001 3
Figure 1a. Friction (Moody) Chart (For Newtonian and Bingham Plastic Fluids)

Figure 1b. Power Law Chart (For Power Law and Herschel-Bulkley Fluids)

d v
Re =
( )
1 n
p
n 2 n
8 K
v d

d v
Re

= =
Source: Dodge and Metzner
PgDip/MSc Oil and Gas Engineering/Well Engineering Fundamenta1s Topic 9:Flow Regimes
The Robert Gordon University 2001 4
Flow Regimes
Flow regimes are relevant to the understanding of displacement efficiencies in a
wellbore. Knowledge of flow regimes is important to the hole cleaning and cement
displacement in the casing/hole annulus.
Laminar Flow
Laminar flow regimes have a hyperbolic velocity profile as shown in Figure 2. The
velocity of the fluid at the wall is judged to be zero, and the velocity is judged to be at
maximum in the centre. Increasing the pump rate will not change the velocity of the fluid
on the wall.
Figure 2. Laminar Flow Regime.
Laminar flow has several distinguishing characteristics as noted below:
longer entry length (L
e
);
parabolic velocity distribution;
velocity at wall = zero
velocity usually maximum at centre;
shear stress from zero at centre to maximum at wall;
average velocity

=
avg
V 2 V V
max max
:
For a Power Law fluid, the velocity distribution for flow in a pipe can be computed using
Equation 7.
Equation 7.
index y Consistenc
index Flow
gradient Pressure
radius Pipe
distance, at Velocity
=
=
=
=
=
(
(

(
(
(

+
|
.
|

\
|
=
+ +
K
n
L
dp
R
r u
r R
n 1
n
L
dp
K 2
g
u
n
n 1
n
n 1
n
1

L
e
v
max
flow velocity = 0

flow velocity = maximum

R
r
PgDip/MSc Oil and Gas Engineering/Well Engineering Fundamenta1s Topic 9:Flow Regimes
The Robert Gordon University 2001 5
Turbulent Flow
Turbulent flow has a plug profile (as shown in Figure 3). For effective fluid displacement
turbulent flow is best.
Figure 3. Turbulent Flow Profile.
There are also several distinguishing characteristics about turbulent flow, as noted
below:
shorter entry length;
flat velocity profile;
velocity at wall = 0
velocity usually maximum at centre;
shear stress from zero at centre to maximum at wall;
wall shear stress greater for turbulent flow;
average velocity

=
avg
V 2 1 V V . :
max max

Annular Flow
In order to get a concentric annulus down hole, stabilisers and centralisers are used in
the drilling assembly/bottom hole assembly (BHA). These ensure good well profiles, as
illustrated in Figure 4.
Figure 4. Concentric and Eccentric Annular Profiles.
Concentric annular flow is often seen in vertical holes, whereas horizontal holes tend to
show eccentric annular profiles with the velocity profile being lowest on the low side of
the wall.

v
max
Plug Profile

Concentric
Eccentric
PgDip/MSc Oil and Gas Engineering/Well Engineering Fundamenta1s Topic 9:Flow Regimes
The Robert Gordon University 2001 6
Comments on FANNING FRICTION Factor and MOODY FRICTION Factor

Please note that Fanning friction factor = 4 x Moody Friction Factor.

Where the Fanning Friction Factor is used,
Head Loss ,
g
v
d
fL
h
f
2
2
=
and friction factor for laminar flow is
Re
64
= f

For the Moody Factor:
Head Loss,
g
v
d
fL
h
f
2
4
2
=
and friction factor for laminar flow is
Re
16
= f

What is crucial to look at whenever a friction chart is being used is to observe the left
hand upper corner of the chart where the laminar line is labelled. For the Moody chart,
the laminar line is labelled
Re
16
= f and for the Fanning Chart the laminar line is
labelled
Re
64
= f

As long as the correct Moody Chart is used, the friction factor read from the chart
SHOULD be used directly in the appropriate Turbulent pressure drop equations. If the
Fanning Friction Chart is used, then the friction factor read from the chart must be
divided by 4 before it can be used in the Turbulent pressure drop equation .
These are only valid for Newtonian and Bingham Plastic Fluids. For the pseudoplastic
fluids (Power Law and HB Fluids) use the Power Law Chart.
For those of you who have access to PWD Data, it may be useful to evaluate your ECD
values and compare with the PWD data! Perhaps you may then want to build your own
hydraulics spreadsheet!
Dr. Babs Oyeneyin