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Asmund Huser and Oddmund Kvernvold Det Norske Veritas, Veritsaveien 1, N-1322 Hvik, NORWAY Published in: Proc. 1 North American Conference on Multiphase Technology. Banff, Canada 1998. Ed. J.P. Brill, G.A. Gregory. BHR group Conf. Series. Publ. No. 31 pp. 217-227

22 March 2000, T/prediction of sand erosion in process.doc

Prediction of sand erosion in pipe systems is outlined presenting two procedures, one for general complex geometries, and one for standard pipe components. Firstly, a general procedure to calculate sand erosion in three-dimensional flow geometries is outlined. This procedure is designed for the detailed assessment of sand erosion rates in complex process components such as production choke valves, manifolds, diverter systems, intruding sand probes, multiphase sensors, etc. The procedure is based on the Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) programme CFX4. DNV has, however, developed specific models to calculate erosion based on general flow and particle calculations performed within CFX4. Validation examples show good comparison with experiments and an application example demonstrate that the procedure is applicable to visualise the erosion mechanisms, to optimise inspection and maintenance routines as well as provide a valuable design tool. Based on experimental findings and the above procedure for complex geometries, DNV has also developed a DNV Recommended Practice (RP O501) which can be applied to calculate sand erosion in typical pipe components: Pipe bends, blinded Tee bends, straight pipes, welds and reducers. The new RP provides valuable tools for dimensioning of piping systems and components, optimisation of production, and inspection and maintenance planning. The oil companies Statoil, Norsk Hydro, Saga Petroleum, Conoco, and partly Amoco have supported the development of the new RP, and the RP is now applied in the Norwagian sector in the North Sea,

Sand erosion has become an important concern both for design of new field developments and prolongation of existing oil and gas fields. High cost of retrieving process components makes it attractive to design against sand erosion, especially for sub-sea installations. For many existing fields, erosion potential increases toward the end of the well life due to decreasing pressure, increasing GOR, and increasing sand production. For existing fields,

inspection and maintenance intervals and methods can be obtained by detailed assessment of the erosion rates of the different components in system. In this assessment, the whole production line has to be considered. The highest velocity in the production line is usually the pressure reduction choke valve, hence the design and material selection of this is crucial /3/. The second most erosion prone component may be a bend, a manifold or a flowmeter. If the choke valve is manufactured in an erosion resistant material, the weakest point may also be the second point. Design to prevent sand erosion is often done by ad-hoc methods that are independent of the sand production rate. One such method is the API RP 14E /2/, where an erosional velocity is calculated. This method may give conservative designs when little sand is produced, whereas non-conservative designs when sand is present. By the present approach, which is based on extensive experiments and testing /3/4/5/6/, design tools are funded on an understanding of the important factors that influence erosion.


The method applied to predict erosion rates in complex flow components, such as choke valves, multi-phase flowmeters, manifolds, etc. is here outlined. A general method developed to perform erosion calculations in arbitrary geometries is developed based on flow and particle track calculations performed with a standard Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) package. In the present work the CFD programme CFX4 is applied. The prediction method for sand erosion applies the results from flow solution and a particle track calculation to calculate the erosion rate on the internal surfaces of the geometry. Specific models have been developed to calculate erosion rates based on the results from CFD simulations.

3.1 Method of analysis

The sand erosion analysis is performed in four steps; grid generation, flow solution, particle track calculation and erosion rate calculation. The first three steps are performed with CFX4, whereas the models developed by DNV perform the fourth step. The approach applied in the first three steps and the DNV erosion model is outlined below. The CFD programme CFX4 contains most of the features that are of importance for erosion problems. The grid system is suited to model complex streamlined, or irregular flow domains. With a multi-block grid system, optimised grid may also be created, making computational times friendly. However, care must be taken when creating the grid. The standard k- method is applied for the turbulence modelling, and a converged turbulence field must be achieved in order to predict the correct particle movement. Only a grid that has sufficient resolution, orthogonality near the walls, and a reasonable grid expansion ensures a converged turbulence field. If non-orthogonal grids are applied near the walls, a solution may be obtained, but this may give unreasonable values for k and which may cause particles to hit the wall with unreasonable speed or particles to be attracted to the walls. This may cause too high erosion rates at these locations. During the flow calculations a steady state one-phase flowfield is produced. The flow may be either incompressible, or compressible. By assuming mixture quantities for the flow parameters (such as velocity, density, viscosity, etc.), multi-phase flows are approximated. When the flow- and turbulence- fields are converged, the particle tracks are solved on the steady state flowfield. Up to 10 000 particles are released at arbitrary locations at the domain

inlet, where the particle tracking routine within CFX4 is applied. The invoked forces acting on the particles are drag force, gravity force and pressure gradient force. Further, a correction term to the particle velocity is included dependent of the turbulence level. Particles are assumed to be spherical, and the particle diameter is specified together with the sand density to give the particle size and weight. Constant particle diameter or a Gaussian distribution of the size is implemented. The restitution coefficient is one for an ideal reflection, and denotes the reduction factor of the wall-parallel velocity after the hit:
u||out = Eu||in


Here u||out is the wall-parallel velocity after the hit, u||in is the wall parallel velocity before the hit, and E is the restitution coefficient. The particle velocity component normal to the wall keeps its value and only changes sign after the hit. Typically a restitution coefficient of E = 0.8 is applied. Equation (1) is the default formulation applied din CFX4. For applications to erosion it is assessed that the angle of attack, particle shape and size, material type as well as the particle velocity will influence the particle exit angle and velocity. However, this is an area of further research. Erosion calculations are performed with a general method based on the situation shown below, where u is the hit velocity and is the hit angle /1/:

u Particle


The general equation for the erosion rate is written as follow /7/8/9/:

E L = Cunit

Ku n m p F ( ) & wA


Here EL is the erosion rate in mm/year, Cunit = 3.151010 is a converting factor from m/s to & mm/year, K is a material constant, m p (kg/s) is the massflow of sand that hit the area, A (m) is the size of the area exposed to erosion, w (kg/m) is the wall material density, n is the velocity exponent which is dependent of the material, and F() is a number between 0 and 1 given by a functional relationship dependant of the material. The erosion rate in some given small sub-area is found by the summation over all particles that hit within the defined area: R= 10 6 K A w M

i =1


n i

F ( i ) ,


where R (m/kg total sand feed) is the erosion rate in the sub area, M is the total number of particles (total sand feed), and nhit is the number of hits in the sub-area. The material dependant parameters have been determined from extensive laboratory tests of a number of different materials given in /3/. Parameters for two frequently used materials are listed in Table 1. The functional relationship, F(), for two materials is given in Figure 1. It should

be noted that the erosion resistance of different materials is varying, and care must be taken when selecting a good erosion resistant material. Parameters applied for tungsten carbid (WC) in Table 1 yield a good WC material with 6% cobalt (Type Sandvik DC-05). Table 1
Material Steel grade Tungsten carbide (WC)

Recommended values for material constants for two typical materials to be applied in Equation (3). From ref. /3/.
K 2.0 10-9 1.1 10

n 2.6 2.3

w 7 800 kg/m 15 250 kg/m

1 0.9 0.8 0.7 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1 0 0 15 30 45 Impact angle -

F( )

Brittle (WC) Ductile (Steel)




Figure 1 Function F( ) for typical ductile and brittle materials /1/.

3.2 Validation cases

Two validation cases are presented indicating that the erosion rate may be predicted for both single-phase and multi-phase fluid flow.

3.2.1 Bean choke

In a bean choke, flow is going through a contraction as sketched to the right. The experimental investigations /4/ were reproduced for carbon-dioxide gas at subsonic speed. The following flow and particle parameters are applied: Inlet velocity: Inlet pressure: 11.4 m/s 14.1 bar

g 45


Inlet temperature: 36 C Fluid viscosity: 1.5 10-5 kg/(ms) Molecular weight: 44 Inlet ID: 54 mm Outlet ID: 20 mm Particle diameter: 0.25 mm Most sand particles hit the 45 contraction and bounces off and hit the second time inside the smaller outlet pipe on the opposite side as the first hit. The maximum erosion rate on the outlet pipe is obtained a small distance from the contraction. In comparison with the experiment, a good agreement on the level of erosion is obtained (Figure 2). The restitution coefficient is E = 0.8 is applied this case. The restitution coefficient does influence the results and may give an explanation of why the location of the maximum point is slightly off.

Erosion rate ( m/kg sand)

3 2.5 2 1.5 1 0.5 0 0 0.05 0.1 0.15 0.2 0.25 0.3

CFD calculation Experiment

Distance (m)
Figure 2 Erosion rate along bean. Comparison with experimental results /4/.

3.2.2 Pipe bend

A 5D-pipe bend with a vertical inlet and horizontal outlet, as shown below in Figure 3, is modelled and compared against experiments. The multi-phase parameters are converted to mixture parameters, which are applied in the model. Assuming incompressible flow, following parameters apply: Inlet mixture velocity: Gas-to-liquid ratio (GLR): Mixture viscosity: Mixture density: Pipe inner diameter, D: Radius of curvature: 36.3 m/s 14.5 m/m 1.8 10-5 kg/(ms) 72.3 kg/m 26.5 mm 5D

Particle size:

0.25 mm




Figure 3 Sketch of flow model (left) and particle tracks from simulations (right). Excellent agreement is obtained when comparing the CFD results with the experiment (Figure 4), despite the approximation to single phase flow. The DNV RP for calculation of erosion in pipe bends /1/ gives a maximum erosion of 7.3 m/kg sand in this case. This confirms that the RP is on the conservative side (see paragraph 4). The DNV developed programme ERBEND is also seen to predict the erosion rate well. This programme employs a 2D model of particle paths to calculate erosion in pipe bends. The effects of multi-phase flow on particle distribution and erosion patterns are not well understood. The present results indicate that the erosion pattern may be distorted by the multiphase flow, explaining some of the differences between the experiment and the CFD results in Figure 4. However, this should be an area of further research.
CFD Experiment ERBEND calculation

Erosion rate (m/kg sand)

4 3.5 3 2.5 2 1.5 1 0.5 0 0 15 30 45




Degrees along bend

Figure 4 Erosion rate along outer side of bend. Comparison with experiment /5/, and 2D model DNV*ERBEND.

3.3 Application to process components

The production choke valve gives an example of application of the erosion routines to complex geometries. The Multiple Orifice Valve (MOV) in Figure 5 is modelled as shown in Figure 6 containing only the flow domain with a high-pressure part (dark) and a lowpressure part (light). The complex flow domain is shown by the solution in Figure 7 with the inlet pipe, the valve house with the internal turning fork, the two bean holes where the flow is accelerated and the low-pressure outlet spool. Turning the two orifice holes, so that they are non-aligned, regulates the flow. The modelled choke presented here is partly open with the bean holes non-aligned. Particle tracks are shown in Figure 8 in order to get an understanding of the erosion mechanisms. At small opening angles, the particles are directed toward the sidewalls of the outlet spool with a high velocity. This causes the erosion rate to reach a maximum at two locations caused by the two bean holes as illustrated by the two maximum points which are shifted 180 in Figure 9. A series of operating ranges have been modelled by changing the opening angle, pressure drop, particle size, and outlet geometry. In Figure 10 are shown results from four cases where the opening angle (or opening percent) is varied. For the largest opening, a reduced erosion rate is obtained. For all cases the erosion rate for both steel walls and WC walls is determined. From each case, the contours of constant erosion on the internal surfaces are found and the point of maximum erosion rate determines the lifetime of the choke. A consolidation of all simulation cases is applied to develop correlation equations that are applied to predict the maximum erosion rates for the relevant operating conditions. Operators can apply this to determine service and inspection intervals as well as optimal operations on fields with a high sand production. The erosion rate is proportional to the sand production rate so that monitoring of the sand production is required to be able to follow the erosion development. On-line sand monitoring is recommended when the sand production is high in order to be able to spot sudden changes in the sand production rate.
Turning fork seen from the side

Straight outlet spool Bean hole orifice


Figure 5 Typical Multiple Orifice Valve (MOV) with two bean holes shown in fully open position.

Figure 6 Geometry model showing the flow domain of the Multiple Orifice Valve (MOV) choke applied in the CFD model. This valve is partly open with the bean holes non-aligned.

Figure 7 Pressure contours, Pa (left) and velocity vectors, m/s (right) in symmetry plane of MOV choke at partly open valve.

Figure 8 Particle tracks in 3D model of MOV choke seen from two angles. Tracks are shaded by the particle speed showing the slow moving particles in the inlet and the house (dark), and the accelerated light particles in the contraction.

Figure 9 Iso-contours of constant erosion rate on the folded out outlet spool wall. The horizontal axis is the angle around the spool, and the vertical axis is the flow direction. To the left is sketched the profile of the outlet spool.

10 Rel. erosion rate 1 0.1 0.01 0.001 0.0001 100 150 200 250 300

20% open 30% open 45% open 60% open



Pipe axis outlet spool wall

Figure 10 Maximum erosion rate on outlet spool wall for four openings of valve. The profile of the outlet spool is sketched below the pipe axis.


Procedures for calculation of erosion rates in the pipe components: pipe bends, blinded Tee bends, straight pipes, weld joints and reducers have been developed based on extensive experiments and CFD modelling cases. Results are consolidated in correlation equations for each component type and can be applied to predict the maximum erosion rates for relevant operating conditions. Correlations are of the form given in Eq. (3) where component dependant coefficients and calculation procedures are incorporated to account for the various geometries. Due to spread in the underlying experimental and numerical results, the correlations are made on the conservative side. The complete set of correlation procedures are outlined in a DNV Recommended Practice /1/ which is commercially available from


DNV. Also a hand-on PC computer programme is available. This can be applied for e.g. dimensioning of piping systems and to optimise production in an existing system. Below is given an example demonstrating the use of the RP procedure for estimation of the pipe dimensions, D, for the following production conditions: Limiting component in pipe: 90 pipe bend Radius of curvature of bend: 2D 3 Production rate: 1.8 106 Sm /day gas = 20 kg/s Well head conditions: 120 bar and 85C Sand production: 0.5 g/s = 32 kg/day Particle diameter: 0.35 mm Sand particle density: 2600 kg/m3 Maximum erosion rate: 0.1 mm/year The physical properties for the HC mixture at the well head conditions will have to be determined from process simulations by appropriate programs; i.e. PROCESS, MAXISIM, HYSYS etc. Based on the physical properties given in Table 2, the mixture properties are obtained for relevant pipe diameters in Table 3. Based on the parameters in Table 3, the procedure for erosion in a pipe bend can be applied for dimensioning of the pipe system. In the calculations a 90 bend with bend radius equal to 2D is used for all cases. Based on the RP results in Table 3, a pipe with dimension 6" (D=0.15 m) should be selected for the given case. However, if sand content becomes lower, the production rate can be increased, see Table 4.

Table 2 Physical properties obtained from process simulation programme.

Gas mass flow (kg/s) Liquid mass flow (kg/s) 5 Gas density, g (kg/m ) 100

Liquid density, l (kg/m3 ) 700

Gas viscosity, g (kg/ms) 1.5 10-5

Liquid viscosity, l (kg/ms) 0.6 10-3


Table 3
Diameter (m) 0.125 0.15 0.175

Mixture properties and resulting erosion rate for relevant pipe diameters
Superficial liquid velocity, Vl (m/s) 0.6 0.4 0.3

Superficial gas velocity, Vg (m/s) 12.2 8.5 6.3


Mix. velocity, Vm (m/s) 12.8 8.9 6.6

Mix density, m (kg/m3 ) 127 127 127

Mix. viscosity, m (kg/ms) 4.5 10-5 4.5 10


Erosion rate from RP (mm/year) 0.5 0.1 0.03

4.5 10-5


Table 4 Recommended maximum production rates for different sand production rates for a 6" pipe with 2D pipe bends in order not to exceed a maximum erosion rate of 0.1 mm/year. The same pressure, temperature, HC composition as in the above analysis is assumed.
Sand feed (g/s) 0.01 0.05 0.1 0.5 (kg/d) 0.9 4.3 8.6 43.2 Recommended maximum production rate (kg/s) 81 44.7 34.6 20 (MSm3 /d) 7.3 4.0 3.1 1.8 Vl


(m/s) 1.6 0.9 0.7 0.4

(m/s) 34 18.9 14.6 8.1

Prediction of sand erosion in pipe systems is outlined presenting two procedures, one for general complex geometries, and one for standard pipe components. A procedure for general three dimensional flow geometries is designed for the detailed assessment of sand erosion in complex process components such as production choke valves, manifolds, blinded Tee bends, intruding sand probes, multi-phase meters etc. The calculation procedure employs the Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) programme CFX as a framework. The application of a general CFD programme gives the opportunity to model flow in general geometries. The flowfield and sand particle tracks from the CFD programme are applied to calculate the erosion rates on all internal surfaces. A correlation equation developed by DNV, based on material testing of several materials, is applied when calculating the erosion rate as a function of the particle hit velocity and angle, and material grade. Validation examples show good comparison with experiments and an application example demonstrate that the procedure is applicable to visualise the erosion mechanisms, as well as providing a valuable design tool. By the aid of experimental findings, and the procedure for complex geometries, is developed a DNV Recommended Practice (RP O501) which can be applied to calculate sand erosion in typical process components: Pipe bends, blinded Tee bends, Straight pipes, welds and reducers. The present procedures provides a valuable tool for dimensioning of piping systems and components, optimisation of production, inspection and maintenance planning, as well as design of sand monitoring systems and choke valves.


/1/ /2/ Det Norske Veritas Recommended Practice Erosive Wear in Piping Systems DNV RP O501, 1996. American Petroleum Institute API Recommended Practice for the Design and Installation of Offshore Production Platform Piping Systems API RP 14E section 2.5b 1991. K. Haugen, O. Kvernvold, A. Ronold and R. Sandberg Sand erosion of wear resistant materials: Erosion in choke valves Wear 186-187 (1995) 179-188 P.Jensen, O.Kvernvold & R.Sandberg 1991 An experimental investigation of the erosion characteristic in bean chokes VERITEC Report no.: 91-3059 O.Kvernvold & R. Sandberg 1993 CRDN 617: Production rate limits in two-phase flow systems: Erosion in piping system for production of oil and gas DNV Report no.: 93-3252. A.K. Cuson & I.M.Hutchings Influence on erodent particle shape on the erosion on mild steel Proc. of the 6th Int. Conf. On Erosion by Liq. and Sol. Impact, Cavenish 1983. G.P. Tilly Erosion by impact of solid particles Treatise on Material Science and Technology, Academic Press, New York, 1979. E. Rask Tube erosion by ash impaction Wear 13, 301-315, 1969. W.F. Adler Assessment of the state of knowledge pertaining to solid particle erosion Final Rep. CR79-680, to the U.S. Army Research Office for contract DAAG29-77-C0039, 1979.

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