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Improvement of leak tightness for swellable

elastomeric seals through the shape optimisation

Yevgen Gorash *, Alan Bickley and Francisco Gozalo
1 2 3
the place
1 – Dep. of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow G1 1XJ, UK
2 – Weir Advanced Research Centre, Technology and Innovation Centre, Glasgow G1 1RD, UK of useful
3 – Weir Oil & Gas, Weir Rubber Engineering, Salt Lake City, UT 84119, USA learning

Introduction ABAQUS plugin with GUI Adaptive remeshing / distortion control

Swellable elastomeric seal is a type of
specifically engineered packer that swell without with
upon contact with wellbore fluids. Such adaptive adaptive
packers have been widely employed in remeshing remeshing
various oil-&-gas and minerals applications
including slimming of well design, zonal
isolation, water shut-off, and multi-stage
fracturing. Downhole conditions are
difficult to be reproduced using physical
testing environment, but feasible to be
simulated in virtual environment using CAE
software. A better understanding of
packers’ mechanical behaviour in
downhole conditions would provide a
higher confidence and improvement of
existing engineering design practices for

manufacturing of packers. The numerical

simulation can be incorporated into
optimisation procedure searching for an
optimal shape of packers with the goals to
Hyperelasticity & swelling Fluid pressure penetration
minimise the time to seal the borehole and
maximise the contact pressure between
the seal and borehole. Such an Robust [or fluid structure
optimisation would facilitate the
development of a packer with various
designs optimised for different downhole

1 of Swellable
conditions. The objective of this research
project is to develop a design tool swollen dry
integrated into a CAE to implement

parametric numerical studies using FEM
simulation. However, development of such
a CAE plugin is associated with a number
of technical challenges specific to this class
of multiphysics problems.

Stampede™ Swellable Packers Shape optimisation with Tosca Structure

borehole side contact area optimised shape Max. Principal
2.0 Max. Principal Strain
1.481 1.533
1.352 1.400
1.224 1.267
1.096 1.133
0.967 1.000
0.839 0.867
0.710 0.733

0.582 0.600
0.454 0.467
0.325 0.333


pipe side

are in inches
Available Options:
• Standard Water Swell (SSW) Series
• High Salinity Water Swell (SHSW) Series
• Hybrid Oil and Water Swell (SHYB) Series critical
• Stampede™ Sleeve (SSLV) Series original contact
• Standard Oil Swell (SSO) Series optimised
0.6 MPa
Contact pressure (MPa)

Multiple set screws 4

and end ring design
prevents extrusion 3
2 contact
1 4 MPa
fluid pressure fluid pressure
High-quality elastomers 0 to cause failure by to cause leakage
that are critical to the
0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6
Normalised length of contact area
0.7 0.8 0.9 1
extrusion ~ 14.2 MPa ~10.7 MPa
life of the packer

Validation via FE-simulation with ABAQUS/Explicit

The validation simulations with ABAQUS/Explicit lack for a realism, because
interaction with fluid was not considered, which might result in a leakage through
the contact surface and less severe extrusion. This simulation challenge can be
effectively addressed by application of the Coupled Eulerian-Lagrangian (CEL)
approach. This capability does not rely on the coupling of multiple software
products, but instead solves the fluid-structure interaction (FSI) simultaneously
within Abaqus. The highest level of realism in simulation of leakage process can
be achieved engaging both ABAQUS/Explicit and CEL.

[1] Lou, Y. & Chester, S. (2014) "Kinetics of swellable packers under downhole
conditions." Int. J. Appl. Mechanics 06: 1450073.
[2] Flory, P.J. & Rehner Jr., J. (1943) "Statistical mechanics of cross-linked
polymer networks: II. Swelling." J. Chem. Phys. 11: 521–526.
[3] Dassault Systèmes (2015) SIMULIA Abaqus 2016 Documentation,
Providence, USA.
[4] Wagner, N. & Helfrich, R. (2016) "Topology and Shape Optimization of
Structures under Contact Conditions." European Conference: Simulation-
Based Optimisation, 12-13 October 2016, Manchester, UK.

2 3
0 1 4 4.6

pressure builds up, MPa

structural collapse & extrusion at 4.6 MPa
Advanced Research Centre