Dynamic multiphase flow behavior inside a mixed flow electrical submersible pump (ESP) has been studied experimentally and theoretically for the first time. The overall objectives of this study are to determine the flow patterns and bubble behavior inside the ESP and to predict the operational conditions that cause surging. The theoretical study includes a mechanistic model for the prediction of the flow behavior inside the pump. The model comprises a one-dimensional force balance to predict occurrence of the stagnant bubbles at the channel intake. This model depends on two important variables, namely the stagnant bubble size and the bubble drag coefficient. The bubble size has been measured and a physically based correlation is presented. A new correlation for the drag coefficient is proposed as a function of rotational speed and Reynolds number. The model enables the prediction of the operational envelope of the ESP, namely the transition to surging.

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