Bubble breakup and coalescence is a phenomenon which occurs within a developing subsea gas plume. A Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) model incorporating bubble breakup and coalescence was developed to describe the behaviour of a subsea gas release and the subsequent rising gas plume. The model was assessed for its suitability in capturing the characteristic behaviour of a rising gas plume by comparing the CFD results with experimental data obtained from underwater gas release experiments.
The study shows bubble breakup and coalescence plays a key role in determining the shape and the behaviour of a subsea gas release. Without the bubble breakup and coalescence included in the CFD model a narrower plume width and higher rising velocity is observed when compared to the experimental data. With bubble breakup and coalescence included the results obtained from the CFD model more accurately match the experimental data. Breakup and coalescence is a mechanism which redistributes the energy within the core of the gas plume towards the edge of the plume. This has a significant impact on the plume characteristics and is vital to be included in the CFD model to describe the behaviour of the released gas.
The study was carried out using air as the released gas. This was done to compare with the available experimental data where air was used as the source. However the CFD model developed is applicable for hydrocarbon subsea gas releases.