The present study addresses itself to the performance assessment of a novel in-line gas-liquid separator. The separator is developed by FRAMES company under the name of SwirlSep based on the interaction of a swirling flow, generated by an innovative devise called swirl cage, and a hollow conical bluff body designed to deviate the gaseous phase internally.. The separator is intended to be implemented within a multiphase flow metering system in oil field gathering stations in the Gulf region. The study represents a preliminary step among a design process including elaborate lab-scale and filed tests.
The flow in the gas-liquid separator is studied using Computational Fluid Dynamics CFD. The Shear Stress Transport (SST) k-ω turbulence and Eulerian-Eulerian multiphase models, under different flow conditions, were used to simulate real flow scenarios. The scenarios were chosen to replicate flow conditions that could exist during the operation of oil wells over their lifetime with the aim to provide guidance for proper control of the separator valves. The fraction of the total flow is prescribed at each outlet, using an outflow boundary condition, to mimic the action of the control valves. At the inlet, the phase velocity and volume fraction were prescribed.
The outlet streams and their phase’s content were, then, analyzed together with the distribution of the velocity and concentration fields inside the separator. Velocity and pressure drop were found to increase with the increase of the outflow in one outlet when changing the flow split. Flow control, at the outlets, caused an increase of the oil-in-gas entrainment when trying to minimize gas-in-oil entrainment which is a non-trivial task. The effects of the flow split specified appeared downstream of the conical bluff body only when the inflow conditions were kept constant whereas the flow field remained identical upstream of the cone. A recirculation zone was generated in the annular space downstream of the cone and affected the separator performance considerably. The recirculation zone was due to the effect of the higher flow rate towards the gas outlet and disappeared when the flow rate towards the oil outlet tended to be equal or higher. The phase distribution was identical upstream of the cone and depended on the flow split downstream of the cone.
The cases considered served as an assessment of the separator performance under different multiphase flow conditions replicating realistic scenarios.