Development of a Method and Device for High-Pressure Optical Access for
 Studying Multiphase Flow Phenomena, 18-9142

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Principal Investigator
Andy Barajas (J. Chris Buckingham)

Inclusive Dates: 06/01/99 - Current

Background - In general, the most effective technique for understanding the behavior of multiphase flow and fluid flow is visual inspection. Having a visual account of flow phenomena leads to a level of understanding that could not be achieved using only "blind" instrumentation. Images and video convey information to the client in ways that can be more easily understood to help them fully appreciate the value and quality of the funded research.

To reduce the risk of applying laboratory data to full-scale systems, the oil and gas industry is pushing to achieve more field-like conditions for research projects. Laboratory facilities are required to operate at higher flow rates and elevated pressures where there are limited techniques for studying fluid flow phenomena under these conditions. A high-pressure optical access device would be extremely useful for these applications.

Approach - The objective of this project is to develop an instrument for effectively observing fluid flow phenomena in high-pressure environments. First, the needs of past projects and future opportunities were reviewed, followed by an extended review of existing hardware that can be modified to fit the specifications. A device was designed, fabricated, and tested in facilities that included the Multi-phase Flow Facility. A video of a "hydrate slurry" flowing intermittently toward the camera, with hydrate deposition on the pipe wall is included. The video may be played by clicking on the hyperlink in the illustration's title.

Accomplishments - A system has been developed that allows for optical access in high-pressure (up to 3,600 psig) piping systems. The system, capable of being inserted and extracted from a pipeline while the pipeline is pressurized, consists of:

  • A pressure-containing probe (approximately 0.5-inch diameter) inserted into the pipe allows for optical access through a sapphire window.
     
  • A lightweight insertion device that allows the probe to be inserted into and extracted from a pipe-line pressurized up to 3,600 psig.
     
  • A cleaning system that allows the sapphire window to be cleaned while the probe is installed in the pipeline. A high-speed video recording of water being injected through the cleaning system to remove solid contaminates on the sapphire viewing window is shown. The video may be played by clicking on the hyperlink in the illustration's title.
     
  • A borescope with a zoom lens inserted inside the pressure-containing probe.
     
  • A progressive scan CCD video camera attached to the borescope.
     
  • Several metal-halide light sources with a "Y" light pipe to combine more than one light source for increased lighting intensity.
     
  • A standard video monitor and a computer-controllable video tape recorder to monitor and capture video images.

Intermittent Hydrate Flow in a 3-inch Test Section. This video shows a "hydrate slurry" flowing intermittently toward the camera, with hydrate deposition on the pipe wall (hydrate4.avi).
 

Window Cleaning System. This high-speed video shows a contaminate being removed from the sapphire window. (water.avi).

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