A realistic computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation of a field three-phase separator has been developed. This realistic CFD simulation provides an understanding of both the microscopic and macroscopic features of the three-phase separation phenomenon. For simulation purposes, an efficient combination of two multiphase models of the commercial CFD software, Fluent 6.3.26 (ANSYS 2006a), was implemented. The flow-distributing baffles and wire mesh demister were also modeled using the porous media model. Furthermore, a useful approach to estimating the particle size distribution in oilfield separators was developed. The simulated fluid-flow profiles are realistic and the predicted separation efficiencies are consistent with oilfield experience.

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