Integrating Computational Fluid Dynamics and Multibody Model of an Oil Production Adapter Base for Disconnection Analysis

Gerson Brand
Graduate Student – Department of Mechanical Engineering School of Engineering of São Carlos - University of São Paulo - Brazil Marcelo Prado / John Hough MSC Brasil Software e Engenharia Ltda. Cesar Lima Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. - Petrobrás

ABSTRACT A methodology of Computation Fluid Dynamic (CFD) and Multibody System (MBS) integration was introduced to analyze a Production Adapter Base (PAB) disconnection. Steady state CFD analyzes in different PAB positions were done to get preliminary data considering both fluid and mechanical dynamic as uncoupled. Then the mechanical dynamics of PAB was investigated using a multibody model and the steady state CFD results. Finally a CFD analysis with moving mesh and mesh element addition was done to simulate the coupling of both dynamics and to validate the methodology. INTRODUCTION Production adapter base (PAB) is a sub sea structure used in offshore platforms to extract the oil using a high pressure natural gas injection into the well. The PAB is attached to the wellhead through a dog house lock system, which is a very confident component. Even though the probability of fail of this component is remote, its occurrence could be very dangerous for the sea environment due to the possibility of PAB disconnection and consequent oil leakage, what justifies this analysis. In order to understand the dynamics of this structure when the lock system fails computational fluid dynamic (CFD) analyzes of the natural gas leakage inside the chamber were run and a multibody model (MBS) of the whole system were built. Four software were used to perform these analyzes: Star-Design, Star-CCM+ and StarCD from CD-Adapco and MSC.Adams from MSC.Software. The methodology used to integrate both kinds of simulation considered first the fluid and mechanical phenomenon as uncoupled, then studied them separately and finally verified the coupling influences through a complete CFD transient analysis using mesh element addition to simulate the PAB movement.
Figure 1: Representation of the disconnection region to be analyzed.

According to Anderson (1995), computational fluid dynamics constitutes a new “third approach” in philosophical study and development of whole discipline of fluid dynamics. In the seventeenth century, the foundations for experimental fluid dynamics were laid in France and England. The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries saw the gradual development of theoretical fluid dynamics, again primarily in Europe. As a result, throughout most of the twentieth century the study and practice of fluid dynamics involved the use of pure theory on the one hand and pure experiment on the other hand. However, the advent of high-speed digital computer combined with the development of accurate numerical algorithms for solving physical problems on these computers has revolutionized the way we study and practice fluid dynamics today. Anderson affirms that computational fluid dynamics is today an equal partner with pure theory and pure experiment in the analysis and solution of fluid


dynamics problems. However, computational fluid dynamics provides nothing more than just a third new approach. It nicely and synergistically complements the other two approaches of pure theory and pure experiment, but it will never replace either of these ones.

Turbulence phenomenon require a very fine space and time discretization to the calculation, which makes necessary the use of assumptions or idealizations to the modeling; In solving the discretized equations, iterative methods are used. Unless they are run for a very long time, the exact solution of the discretized equations is not produced.

The application of CFD as a tool for the study of the PAB disconnection phenomenon was choose because of the great difficulties to simulate its operational conditions in an experimental research. How the main objective of the analysis was verifying the possibility of a complete disconnection of the PAB in case of a fail in the dog house lock, it was found that CFD would give sufficient accurate results, even with all limitations imposed by assumptions and simplifications, to analyze and judge which configurations of water depth and internal gas pressure would be favorable to the occurrence of the complete disconnection.
Figure 2: The “three dimensions” of fluid dynamics.

METHODOLOGY According to Ferziger and Perić (2002), in some cases experimental studies are very difficult if not impossible. For example, the measuring equipment might disturb the flow or the flow may be inaccessible. Some quantities are simply not measurable with present techniques or can be measured only with an insufficient accuracy. Experiments are an efficient means of measuring global parameters, like drag, lift, pressure drop or heat transfer coefficients. In many cases, however, it may be essential to know whether flow separation occurs, whether the wall temperature exceeds some limit or whether compressible effects have considerable influences on the system. These advantages of CFD, however, are conditional on being able to solve the Navier-Stokes equations accurately, which is extremely difficult for most flows of engineering interest. Accurate numerical solutions for high Reynolds number flow are particularly difficult. According to Ferziger and Perić if we are unable to obtain accurate solutions for all flows, we have to determine what we can produce and learn to analyze and judge the results. First of all, we have to bear in mind that numerical results are always approximate. The reason for differences between computed results and “reality” is that errors arise from each part of the processes used to produce numerical solutions. Some examples are: • • The differential equations approximations or idealizations; may contain An initial analysis of the phenomenon conditions leads us to make assumptions about the interaction between the fluid flow and the mechanical dynamics. The main characteristic is that the pressure difference between the gas inside the chamber and the external ambient is very high, while the inertial properties of the PAB are also very high. From this characteristic, some estimation was made and it was found that the fluid dynamics is much faster than the mechanical dynamics. It means that the fluid flow stabilize after a change in the volume of control much faster than a significant displacement of the PAB can occur. The assumption of the possibility of studying both phenomenon uncoupled lead us to the follow approach: a series of steady state CFD analysis were done at different PAB positions and to different internal pressure of the gas, covering all the configurations possible. Some hypothesis and simplifications were studied before the effective start of the steady state simulations. The first one was the evaluation of the influence of the gas injection through the system. This gas injection keeps the pressure high inside the chamber during the oil exploration. However, it was found that the mass flow being injected in the system is much lesser than the leakage mass flow when the lock fails. Then, this gas injection was not considered in the simulations and this hypothesis provided a great reduction in the number of steady state CFD analysis required to cover all configurations.

Approximations are made in the discretization process; 2

The second hypothesis was the consideration of the control volume as symmetric along the revolution axis. It was found little three-dimensional variations along this axis, however some simulations comparing both threedimensional and symmetric results showed variations lesser than 1% in the parameters of interest. The adoption of this hypothesis had great impact in the number of elements of the model, simplifying a 600000 model elements to a 30000 model. The last hypothesis was the consideration of a single-phase fluid system. It means that the parameters of interest, force acting at PAB and gas mass flow due the leakage, do not have significant changes when considering both phases (sea water and natural gas) or just considering gas phase. The comparison between both cases were run and it was found variations lesser than 3% in the parameters measured. For the multi-phase case evaluation it was used Volume of Fluid methodology (VOF) to solve the free surface problem. The adoption of this simplification reduced the computational efforts, mainly because of the finer time discretization required by the simulation of free surface. After these considerations, the methodology chosen for the first part of the analyzes was running a series of axisymmetric steady state CFD simulations considering the PAB at different positions to different internal gas pressure. The software Star-Design was used to the mesh generation. The geometry has been prepared to be a slice part with little thickness of the three-dimensional volume of control, as shown in Figure A-1 in appendix A. The mesh element type chosen was the polyhedral because of its properties of faster solution using less memory and great accuracy. Star-CCM+ was used as the pre-processor, solver and post-processor for the steady state analyzes. The mesh was imported from Star-Design and was converted to a two-dimensional mesh. The boundary regions were set as shown in Figure A-2. The boundary types were set according to Table 1. Boundary Name Leakage_Inlet Housing Line Conector Outlet Bounday Type Stagnation Inlet No-Slip Wall No-Slip Wall No-Slip Wall Pressure
Table 1: Description of the boundary types.

significantly affected by flow conditions in the solution domain. It normally appears in compressible flow calculations. This was the exactly definition of the Leakage_Inlet boundary and that is way stagnation inlet was used. According to the same reference, pressure boundary specifies a constant static pressure or piezometric pressure on a given boundary. This is the definition of the outlet boundary, which represent a constant pressure due the sea depth. Due convergences problems to the steady state analyzes, in some configurations it had been used a transient approach until the fluid system found the equilibrium, which usually took less than 0.1s. Some visualizations of the fluid flow at these analyzes are shown in Figures A-3 and A-4. The force acting on the connector, which is directly linked to the PAB, and the mass flow leaking from inside the chamber were monitored for each configuration. Over 200 configurations were analyzed and the results were plotted on three-dimensional graphs, as shown in the examples in Figures A-5 and A-6. This surface data plotted represent the response of the monitored parameters to all the possible conditions to occur in the system studied. From this data, the multibody model calculated the mechanical dynamic of the PAB. The Figure 3 shows the interactive process of the calculation.

Figure 3: Interactive process of PAB dynamic calculation.

At each time step, the multibody model read the information from CFD data matrix according to state of the system, which means instant internal pressure and PAB position, and calculates the new state for the next time step. The multibody model is shown in Figure A-7. A similar methodology can be seen in Ruiz et al (2002), in which the aerodynamics forces for a vehicle were found using steady state CFD analyzes and the calculation of the influence of these forces on the vehicle dynamics was calculated by the MBS model using the same integration procedure suggested here. As it was commented previously, this procedure is based on the consideration that both the fluid dynamics and the mechanical dynamics are uncoupled. To validate this methodology, it was necessary a transient CFD analysis using mesh motion to simulate the variations on the volume of control and to compare the results. 3

According to Star-CD User Guide (2004), a stagnation boundary is typically used on a boundary lying in a large reservoir where the fluid properties are not

How the total displacement of the PAB was about 0.7m, which was very big comparing to the elements size, the use of cell-layer addition was necessary to maintain a coherent mesh during all simulation. Star-CD was the software used for this analysis. According to the Star-CD User Guide (2004), a cell is removed by collapsing intervening faces between two opposite sides in a given direction. This is done by moving together the vertices making up the faces. The procedure chosen for this analysis was to build the model with all the cells, which represent the PAB in the highest position, and divide the region where the cell addition would be in cell layers with different cell type each. After this procedure and after the setup of the simulation and the boundaries conditions, events were set up to remove all the cell layers in a negative time and to start the cell addition at time zero, simulating the disconnection of the PAB. The Figure A-9 shows the model in Star-CD and the colored region represents the cell layers to be removed/added. Due the movement of the mesh, the connections between the moving mesh region and the stationary mesh region changes all the time during the simulation. A sliding interface was set between these regions and then there were no restriction about the relative vertices position of each region. The velocity of disconnection was set 1m/s, which corresponded to the highest velocity obtained in MBS analyzes. The highest velocity favors the coupling of fluid and mechanical dynamic and so this was the most critical situation against the methodology chosen. The parameters monitored were the same of the steady state analyzes and they were plotted as a function of the PAB position. The comparison between the results obtained in the multibody model using the steady state CFD data and CFD transient analysis with moving mesh is shown in Figure A-10 and A-11. The highest difference of the results of force acting on PAB and gas mass flow for both methodologies was respectively 1.05% and 7.87%. One important characteristic of this comparison is that the force obtained in this validation analysis was lesser and gas mass flow was higher, which means that the variation favors the security. Considering that the evaluated situation is the most critical condition, this variation is acceptable to validate the steady state approach to analyze and judge which conditions of water depth and gas internal pressure would be favorable to the occurrence of complete disconnection of the PAB in case of fail in the dog house lock.

CONCLUSIONS This paper presented an approach for solving a fluid-structure interaction with great displacement to analyze the possibility of complete disconnection of oil Production Adapter Base (PAB) in case of fail of the main lock. The methodology used considered both fluid and mechanical dynamics uncoupled and an integration of a series of steady state CFD data and a multibody model was established. The methodology was validated by a transient CFD analysis with moving mesh and cell layer addition to simulate the coupling between both phenomenons. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Part of the work related to the transient CFD analysis with mesh element addition was supported by Gerald Schmidt and John Rogers from CD-Adapco USA. The comments of the referees are gratefully acknowledgments. REFERENCES 1 – Anderson Jr., John D., Computational Fluid Dynamic The Basis with Application, McGraw-Hill, Inc., New York, USA, 1995. 2 – Ferziger, J. H., Perić, M., Computational Methods for Fluid Dynamics, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg New York, 2002. 3 – Ruiz, S., Català, A., Punset, A., Arbiol, J., Marí, R., Multi Body System – Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) integration, 1st MSC.ADAMS European User´s Conference, London, 2002. 4 – Star-CD Version 3.24 User Guide, CD-Adapco Group, 2004. 5 – Star-CD Version 3.24 Methodology, CD-Adapco Group, 2004.


Appendix A – List of Pictures

Figure A-3: Transonic gas flow visualization – Star-CCM+.

Figure A-1: Mesh generation at Star-Design.

Figure A-4: Absolute Pressure plot – Star-CCM+.

Figure A-2: Boundary regions used in the model. Figure A-5: Force acting on PAB as a function of pressure difference and PAB position.


Figure A-6: Mass flow as a function of pressure difference and PAB position.

Figure A-9: Representation of the sliding interface.

Figure A-7: Multibody model at MSC.Adams.

Figure A-10: Comparison of the force acting on PAB data between both methodologies.

Figure A-8: CFD model at Star-CD.

Figure A-11: Comparison of the gas mass flow data between both methodologies.