A comparison of numerical simulations with experimental and theoretical investigations of highly-viscous oil-aqueous foam horizontal flow

Jie Sun, Liejin Guo, Jiaqiang Jing, Linlin Duan, Yingda Lu, Amos Ullmann, Neima Brauner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A possible innovative technology of foam injection for facilitating the transportation of heavy oils is explored. To this aim, a numerical study on flow characteristics of highly viscous oil flowing through a 25 mm i. d. horizontal pipe under the action of aqueous foam was conducted. The Volume of Fluid (VOF) multiphase flow modeling method embodied in ANSYS Fluent was applied to simulate the Newtonian oil/non-Newtonian foam two-phase flow. Simulations were conducted covering oil and foam superficial velocities of 0.1–0.9 m/s and 0.05–0.84 m/s, respectively, corresponding to the experimental range. Cross-sectional axial velocity profiles, oil volume fractions, phase-distribution and pressure gradients were extracted from the CFD simulations. The flow patterns were compared to actual images taken from a high-speed, high resolution camera. Pressure gradients, drag reduction ratios and oil-transport efficiencies were compared with the experimental data and mechanistic model predictions. Good agreement was achieved among the simulated, experimental and predicted data over a wide range of operational conditions. With the complete encapsulation of the oil core by the foam annulus, a critical foam fraction can be established to reach maximum drag reduction ratio. An optimum foam/oil flow rate ratio for the highest oil-transport operational coefficient was identified.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108507
JournalJournal of Petroleum Science and Engineering
Volume201
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Keywords

  • Aqueous foam
  • Core-annular flow
  • Eccentric core
  • Highly viscous oil
  • Non-Newtonian lubricant

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