High-viscosity biphasic flow characterization in a pipeline: application to flow pattern classification and leak detection
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Noguera Polania, Jose Fernando
Pipeline systems play an essential role in the oil industry. These systems connect ports, oil fields, refineries, and consumer markets. Pipelines covering long distances require pumping stations, where products are propelled to the next pumping station, refinery, or deposit terminal, thus traveling through most of the country. The product considered in this research work is crude oil. It is usually transported with a combination of crude oil with viscosity reducers (DRA, drag reducer agent) and oil with gas in onshore/offshore pipelines. This mode of transport is efficient for large quantities and large product shipment distances. Problems may arrive when a leak occurs. In major incidents, large scale damage to humans and the environment is possible. Then, this research addresses the problem of how to detect the leak earlier to reduce the impact in the surrounding areas and economic losses, considering five research topics taking into account that the products inside the pipeline are water-glycerol and gas-glycerol mixtures (simulating oil-DRA and oil-gas in the laboratory test apparatus). The first research topic presents a mathematical model to describe the flow of a mixture of water and glycerol in pressurized horizontal pipelines, which emulates the mixture of heavy oil and a viscosity reducer. The model is based on the mass and momentum conservation principles and empirical correlations for the mixture’s density and viscosity. The set of partial differential equations is solved using finite differences. These equations were implemented in a computer platform to be able to simulate a system. This simulation platform is a tool to simulate leak cases for different fractions of water and glycerol to evaluate algorithms for leak detection and localization before their implementation in a laboratory setting.