Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Simulations of Taylor Bubbles in Vertical and Inclined Pipes with Upward and Downward Liquid Flow

Lizarraga-Garcia, Enrique (Shell Global Solutions Inc. and MIT (Corresponding author) | Buongiorno, Jacopo (email: elizaga@alum.mit.edu)) | Al-Safran, Eissa (MIT)

OnePetro 

Summary Two-phase flow is a common occurrence in pipes of oil and gas developments. Current predictive tools are based on the mechanistic two-fluid model, which requires the use of closure relations to predict integral flow parameters such as liquid holdup (or void fraction) and pressure gradient. However, these closure relations carry the highest uncertainties in the model. In particular, significant discrepancies have been found between experimental data and closure relations for the Taylor bubble velocity in slug flow, which has been determined to strongly affect the mechanistic model predictions (Lizarraga-García 2016). In this work, we study the behavior of Taylor bubbles in vertical and inclined pipes with upward and downward flow using a validated 3D computational fluid dynamics (CFD) approach with level set method implemented in a commercial code. A total of 56 cases are simulated, covering a wide range of fluid properties, pipe diameters, and inclination angles: Eo ∈ [10, 700]; Mo ∈ [1×10, 5×10]; ReSL ∈ [–40, 10]; θ ∈ [5°, 90°]. For bubbles in vertical upward flows, the simulated distribution parameter, C0, is successfully compared with an existing model. However, the C0 values of downward and inclined slug flows where the bubble becomes asymmetric are shown to be significantly different from their respective vertical upward flow values, and no current model exists for the fluids simulated here. The main contributions of this work are (1) the relatively large 3D numerical database generated for this type of flow, (2) the study of the asymmetric nature of inclined and some vertical downward slug flows, and (3) the analysis of its impact on the distribution parameter, C0.

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