Fluids Engineering Program
High pressure and near-freezing temperatures in deep-water environments may result in hydrate and paraffin blockages in pipelines, restricting oil and gas flow. This multiphase flow loop is used to simulate field conditions for flow assurance studies and other multiphase flow research.
Photo courtesy of NASA.
SwRI engineers designed and fabricated the Liquid Motion Experiment (LME) to study fluid behavior in microgravity. The LME was tested aboard space shuttle Atlantis on mission STS 84.
The Fluids Engineering Program at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) performs applied research for industries ranging from space exploration to oil and gas production. The section serves as the Institute's primary resource for fluid dynamic research.
Chris Buckingham, Program Director
The group maintains active research programs in the following areas:
Extensive research programs are conducted to support the drilling, production and transmission sectors of the oil and gas industry. Project work includes drilling hydraulics, cementing, separation, multiphase pumping and metering, wet gas measurement, and flow assurance. A dedicated multiphase flow loop is available to support experimental studies in many of these areas.
SwRI has been involved in the study of space fluid behavior beginning with the Apollo program in the mid-1960s. The section's staff has provided a variety of solutions for the microgravity propellant dynamics challenges of the space industry. These innovations include propellant dynamics and management, environment control and life support system design and evaluation, flight hardware development, and flight experiment design, development and analysis.
Standard or specialized tests are conducted on products used by the oil and gas industry. Standard tests include qualification of surface and subsurface safety valves to American Petroleum Institute (API) Specifications 14A and 6AV1. Specialized tests include gas lift valve performance evaluation, high temperature and pressure gasket testing, and flow coefficient determination. Additional custom testing is available. To learn more about SwRI's flow component testing facilities, please visit fctf.swri.org.
A wide range of projects are conducted relating to flow measurement. These include flow measurement research, meter testing (including dry gas, wet gas, and multiphase flow meters), and meter calibrations. In addition, projects have been conducted to determine the effect of gas quality on metering and the development of gas sampling procedures, especially under conditions where the gas is not dry.
Fluids Engineering Program Technical Strengths
- Computational and Experimental Fluid Dynamics
Multiphase Flow Research
- Erosion Testing
Oil and Gas Production
Dry, Wet Gas, and Multiphase Flow Measurement
Space Propulsion and Propellants
Space Fluids Engineering
- In-situ Propellant Production
Flow Component Testing
- Hardware Design and Fabrication
- CFD Services for Fluid Dynamics and Multiphase Flow