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


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


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


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