Hydrodynamics of Two-Phase Flow in Gas-Liquid Cylindrical Cyclone Separators
- I. Arpandi (The University of Tulsa) | A.R. Joshi (The University of Tulsa) | O. Shoham (The University of Tulsa) | S. Shirazi (The University of Tulsa) | G.E. Kouba (Chevron Petroleum Technology Company)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Journal
- Publication Date
- December 1996
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 427 - 436
- 1996. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.6.4 Drillstem/Well Testing, 5.9.2 Geothermal Resources, 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 1.6.9 Coring, Fishing, 4.3.4 Scale, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 5.3.2 Multiphase Flow, 4.6 Natural Gas, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 5.3.4 Integration of geomechanics in models, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements
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This paper presents new experimental data and an improved mechanistic model for the Gas-Liquid Cylindrical Cyclone (GLCC) separator. The data were acquired utilizing a 3" ID laboratory-scale GLCC, and are presented along with a limited number of field data. The data include measurements of several parameters of the flow behavior and the operational envelope of the GLCC. The operational envelope defines the conditions for which there will be no liquid carry-over or gas carry-under. The developed model enables the prediction of the hydrodynamic flow behavior in the GLCC, including the operational envelope, equilibrium liquid level, vortex shape, velocity and holdup distributions and pressure drop across the GLCC. The predictions of the model are compared with the experimental data. These provide the state-of-the-art for the design of GLCC's for the industry.
The gas-liquid separation technology currently used by the petroleum industry is mostly based on the vessel-type separator which is large, heavy and expensive to purchase and operate. This technology has not been substantially improved over the last several decades. In recent years the industry has shown interest in the development and application of alternatives to the vessel-type separator. One attractive alternative is the use of compact or in-line separators such as the Gas-Liquid Cylindrical Cyclone (GLCC) separator. As can be seen in Fig. 1, the GLCC is an emerging class of vertical compact separators, as compared to the very mature technology of the vessel-type separator.
The GLCC is a simple, compact, low weight and low cost separator. Therefore it is gaining in popularity as an attractive economical alternative to the conventional separator. As shown in Fig. 2, the GLCC is simply a pipe, mounted vertically with a downward inclined tangential inlet. The flow into the GLCC forms a swirling motion and the two-phases separate due to the centrifugal force. The liquid is forced radially to the wall of the cylinder and is produced from the bottom, while the gas is forced radially inward toward the center of the cyclone and exits from the top.
At present, the GLCC is used primarily as a gas knockout system upstream of production equipment. The compact GLCC is especially attractive in applications where only partial separation is required. Many wells in the U.S.A produce with a high GOR, and are candidates for partial separation. Through the control of GOR the GLCC enhances the performance of multiphase flow meters, multiphase flow pumps, portable well testing equipment, flare gas scrubbers, slug catchers, de-sanders and conventional separators. The GLCC is also being considered for downhole separation and for primary surface or subsea separation.
A representation of the available literature on cyclone separators and related physical phenomena was given by Kouba et al. A review of the literature reveals that very little information is available about the optimum design and performance of GLCC's. Despite the lack of performance information, several successful applications of GLCC separators were reported for multiphase separation, metering and pumping. These are briefly reviewed below:
Davies and Watson and Davies indicated the potential benefits of utilizing cyclone separators in an offshore environment. This was confirmed by comparative tests conducted by Oranje. BHR Group has developed a GLCC to control the gas-liquid ratio to optimize the efficiency of a multiphase pump.
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