Vertical column flotation technology has been developed specifically for service on floating platforms. The technology was developed using a combination of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulation and physical testing. The time and cost to develop the new technology was substantially reduced through the use of CFD simulation. The development program culminated in the installation and successful operation of a 10,000 barrels of water per day (BWPD) column flotation unit on a spar in the Gulf of Mexico.
CFD simulations were used to optimize the distribution of process fluids and gas bubbles in the column flotation cell and to define a strategy for skimming oil from the flotation cell while the unit was in motion on a floating platform. The result was a column flotation unit design that sweeps each volume of produced water with 150 – 300 micron gas bubbles 400 – 700 times per minute during a 4-minute contact time and permits effective oil skimming even in rough seas. Field performance data is presented for the column flotation cell that is operating successfully on a spar in the Gulf of Mexico.