This paper provides details of comprehensive computational-fluid dynamics (CFD)-based studies performed to overcome the separation inefficiencies experienced in a large-scale three-phase separator. It will be shown that the classic design methods are too conservative and would result in oversized separators. In this study, effective CFD models are developed to estimate the phase-separation parameters that are integrated into an algorithmic design method to specify a realistic optimum separator. The CFD simulations indicated that noticeable residence times are required for liquid droplets to penetrate through the interfaces, and liquid droplets would be entrained again from the liquid/liquid interface vicinity by the continuous liquid phase.

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