Title:

Noninvasive velocity and volume fraction profile measurement in multiphase flows

Multiphase flow is the simultaneous flow of two or more phases, in direct contact, and is important in the oil industry, e.g. in production wells, in subsea pipelines and during the drilling of wells. The behaviour of the flow will depend on the properties of the constituent phases, the flow velocities and volume fractions of the phases and the geometry of the system. In solidsinliquid flows, measurement of the local solids volume fraction distribution and the local axial solids velocity distribution in the flow cross section is important for many reasons including health and safety and economic reasons, particularly in oil well drilling operations. However upward inclined solidsliquid flows which are frequently encountered during oil well drilling operations are not well understood. Inclined solidsliquid flows result in non uniform profiles of the solids volume fraction and axial solids velocity in the flow cross section. In order to measure the solids volumetric flow rate in these situations it is necessary to measure the distributions of the local solids volume fraction and the local axial solids velocity and then to integrate the product of these local properties in the flow cross section. This thesis describes the development of a nonintrusive Impedance CrossCorrelation (ICC) device to measure the local solids volume fraction distribution and the local solids axial solids velocity distribution in upward inclined solidswater flows in which these distributions are highly nonuniform. The ICC device comprises a nonconductive pipe section of 80mm internal diameter fitted with two arrays of electrodes, denoted „array A‟ and „array B‟, separated by an axial distance of 50mm. At each array, eight electrodes are equispaced over the internal circumference of the pipe. A control system consisting of a microcontroller and analogue switches is used such that, for arrays A and B, any of the eight electrodes can be configured as an "excitation electrode" (V+), a "virtual earth measurement electrode" (Ve) or an "earth electrode" (E) thus enabling the local mixture conductance in different regions of the flow crosssection to be measured and thereby allowing the local solids volume fraction in each region to be deduced. The conductance signals from arrays A and B are also crosscorrelated to yield the local solids axial velocity in the regions of flow under interrogation. A number of experiments were carried out in solidsinwater flows in a flow loop with an 80 mm inner diameter, 1.68m long Perspex test section which was inclined at three different inclination angle to the vertical ( o 0 , o 15 and o 30 ). The obtained results show good quantitative agreement with previous work carried out using intrusive local probes. Integration of the flow profiles in the cross section also yielded excellent quantitative agreement with reference measurements of the mean solids volume fraction, the mean solids velocity and the solids volumetric flow rate. Furthermore, this study also showed good qualitative agreement with high speed film of the flow. It is believed that the method of velocity and volume fraction profile measurement described in this thesis is much simpler to implement, more accurate and less expensive than the currently very popular technique of dualplane Electrical Resistance Tomography (ERT). Finally, the thesis describes a mathematical model for predicting the axial velocity distribution of inclined solidswater flows using the solids volume fraction profiles measured by the ICC device. Good agreement was obtained between the predicted velocity profiles and the velocity profiles measured using the ICC device.
