Marine oil spills and flare gas explosions cause catastrophic damage to the environment, societies and industry, as seen with the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010. Understanding how to design robust, fit-for-purpose pipes is crucial in avoiding disasters.

When gas, liquids and solids flow simultaneously through a pipe, such as in the oil and gas industry, it is known as multiphase flow, which is highly complex and difficult to predict. Experts at the University of Nottingham’s Multiphase Flow Lab, in collaboration with other researchers, modelled these flows looking at how the underlying physics, physical properties and operational conditions affected the results.

Gas-liquid and liquid-liquid flows were measured in small and large diameter pipes, replicating industrial and real-life scenarios. Cutting edge sensors detected flow, temperature and pressure variations at the core of the pipes. The result was a 5TB database of empirical multiphase flow measurements, which has since been used to validate oil and gas models for multiphase flow in Schlumberger’s OLGA software.

OLGA is the industry standard tool for dynamic multiphase flow simulation and is used by companies globally to help design multi-billion-dollar oil pipelines and offshore facilities.

In collaboration with Transvac Systems Ltd, the research has also assisted in the development of a liquid jet compressor ejector to eliminate or reduce (where retrofitted) flaring volumes – a major target for all oil and gas production facilities as it avoids wasting energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. 



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