Investigation on drag reduction of aqueous foam for transporting thermally produced high viscosity oil

Jie Sun, Liejin Guo*, Xiaoyun Yin, Jiaqiang Jing, Jiqiang Fu, Yingda Lu, Amos Ullmann, Neima Brauner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


An innovative idea is proposed for facilitating the transportation of thermally produced high-viscosity oil by injecting temperature tolerant aqueous foam. To this aim, experimental investigations of the flow characteristics of heated highly viscous oil flowing through a 25 mm i.d. horizontal rough-wall tempered borosilicate glass pipe were conducted. Measurements were made for the superficial oil and foam velocities in the range of 0.05–0.40 m/s and 0.04–0.39 m/s, respectively. Eccentric core annular flow configurations detected by a high-speed camera were found to be particularly dominant throughout the entire tested range. A two-fluid, three-zone mechanistic model for horizontal foam-oil flows was implemented for the case of shear thinning power-law fluid in the annulus, which is in accordance with the foam rheological behavior at the tested elevated temperature. Good agreement was achieved between the predicted and measured data over a wide range of operational conditions. When a complete foam annulus encapsulating the oil core is formed, a critical value of input foam volume fraction can be determined for the maximum drag reduction ratio. An optimal oil core-to-pipe radius ratio range was determined for the highest oil-transport operational coefficient. The drag reduction performance of the tested hot oil-foam system is better than that obtained with the oil-foam system employed at room temperature.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110062
JournalJournal of Petroleum Science and Engineering
StatePublished - Mar 2022


FundersFunder number
Hildebrand Department of Petroleum & Geosystems Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin
Cockrell School of Engineering, University of Texas at Austin
National Natural Science Foundation of China52106208, 51888103, U19B2012, 51779212
China Postdoctoral Science Foundation2020M683498
Natural Science Foundation of Shaanxi Province2021JQ-039


    • Aqueous foam
    • Drag reduction
    • Eccentric core flow
    • Highly viscous oil
    • Two-fluid model


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