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Ground-breaking progress at the Advanced Multiphase Facility

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3 September 2020


Flow pattern maps are at the core of the science of multiphase flow, but until now these have been qualitatively determined through visual observation of flow regimes through transparent pipes, first by eye, and in more recent times by high-speed video which can be visually assessed afterwards. In the words of Lord Kelvin “… when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind.”.  Supported by the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), we have now applied temporally resolved 2D X-ray tomography to quantitatively determine flow pattern maps for the first time, essentially opening up a whole new level of research in this field.

For example, as process conditions change, the flow regime changes. However, until now, flow pattern maps have simply reflected hard boundaries between regimes, as if a sudden flip from one to the other occurs. In practice, there are transitional regions where the flow has the characteristics of two regimes or flips between two regimes intermittently. Through the application of this quantitative technique we have been able to measure these phenomena for the first time, which in turn has allowed the application of data science techniques to the creation of probabilistic flow pattern maps. These are a much more accurate representation of the real-world and are far more practically useful due to their quantified nature.

The figures below demonstrate the difference at pressures of 20 bar and 120 bar respectively which are typical in most oil and gas applications. The images beneath the graphs show the side projection through the pipe from the X-ray tomography system, where green signifies gas, while red represents oil.

This ground-breaking dataset provides an improved understanding of the effects of pressure on multiphase flow patterns and their corresponding hold-up. This was only possible with the recent £16 M investment in the Advanced Multiphase Facility (AMF) and cutting-edge X-ray tomography technology that allows the visualisation of these flows in high pressure pipes.

  The AMF facility is available for industry and academia to test, verify and develop multiphase flow instrumentation confidently at higher pressures.  For more information on the facility, contact Commercial Flow Measurement Services Manager, Anna Pieper.

For further details, contact Communications Manager [email protected]


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