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

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Principal Investigator
Andre M. Barajas (J. Chris Buckingham)

Inclusive Dates:  06/01/99 - 01/01/02

Background - The most effective technique for understanding the behavior of multiphase flow and fluid flow, in general, is visual inspection. Having a visual account of flow phenomena leads to a level of understanding that could never 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 demanding more field-like conditions for research projects. Laboratory facilities are required to operate at higher flow rates and elevated pressures which has 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. The approach was to review the needs of past projects and future opportunities and to review existing hardware that can be modified to fit the specifications. A device was designed, fabricated, and tested in facilities that included the Multiphase Flow Facility. The first illustration shows a video of a hydrate slurry flowing intermittently toward the camera, with hydrate deposition on the pipe wall. The videos may be viewed by clicking on the hyperlink in the illustrations captions.

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

  • A pressure-containing probe (approximately 0.5-inch diameter) that is inserted into the pipe and allows for optical access through a sapphire window.
  • A lightweight insertion device that allows the pressure-containing probe to be inserted into and extracted from a pressurized pipeline at pressures up to 3,600 psig.
  • A cleaning system that allows the sapphire window to be cleaned while the probe is installed in the pipeline. The second illustration shows a high-speed video recording of water being injected through the cleaning system to remove solid contaminants on the sapphire viewing window.
  • 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 videotape recorder to monitor and capture video images.

Click here for video clip (2,599KB)

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

Click here for video clip (1,035KB)

Window cleaning system. This high-speed video shows contaminants being removed from the sapphire window

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