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Flow Measurement and Instrumentation 13 (2002) 1316

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Performance of a Venturi meter in gasliquid flow in the presence


of dissolved gases
T. Elperin , A. Fominykh, M. Klochko
The Pearlstone Center for Aeronautical Engineering Studies, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, P.O.
Box 653, Beer Sheva 84105, Israel
Received 1 June 2001; received in revised form 20 August 2001; accepted 13 March 2002

Abstract
A model of release of the gas dissolved in the liquid phase during two-phase flow through a Venturi tube is proposed. Using
several simplifying assumptions, the analytical solution for a proposed model for the pressure drop is obtained. This solution can
be used for estimating the flow conditions at which the contribution of the pressure drop due to the gas release is significant compared
with that due to the flow acceleration. The dimensionless parameters appearing in the solution can be used for interpretation of
the experimental data on gases flashing during flows through differential pressure devices and other flow constrictions. 2002
Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Venturi meter; Two-phase flow; Gas release; Mass transfer

1. Introduction
The accurate measurement of the flow rates of multiphase fluids in the petroleum industry is of great importance for reservoir production management. The most
reliable measurement technique for multiphase flow is
mixture separation and use of conventional single-phase
measuring devices. However, in many cases the separation is not practical from both technical and economical
points of view. An alternative solution is the multiphase
flow metering system. Usually, such a system consists
of a combination of devices for phase fraction measurement and phase velocity measurement. The former uses
the essential difference of some physical property of the
phases in deriving the mixture composition, and they are
unique for multiphase measuring techniques. The velocity measurement in multiphase flows is often performed
by means of conventional single-phase flow devices
complemented with an appropriate two-phase flow
model.
A survey of existing solutions in multiphase flow met-

Corresponding author. Tel.: +972-8-647-7078; fax: +972-8-6472813.


E-mail address: elperin@menix.bgu.ac.il (T. Elperin).

ering (given, for example, by Thorn et al. [13]) shows


that the Venturi meter is frequently used for the velocity
measurement of the mixture. This choice can be
explained by its simple design, low cost and relatively
high accuracy achievable in measuring differential pressure. Considering the great technical importance as well
as pure scientific interest, two-phase flow through Venturi tubes has been widely studied both experimentally
and theoretically (Carofano and McManus [2], Wallis
and Sullivan [14], Thang and Davis [12], Martindale and
Smith [9], Lewis and Davidson [7], Lemonnier and
Selmer-Olsen [6], Ishii et al. [4]). There are also several
reports in the literature on the successful application of
differential pressure devices, in particular Venturi meters, in measuring gasliquid flows (see, e.g., Reimann
et al. [11], Moura and Marvillet [10], Abdul-Razzak et
al. [1]).
Considering the application of differential pressure
devices in the petroleum industry, it should be kept in
mind that the oilgas two-phase mixture is a complex
multi-component system that is usually treated as a
binary saturated mixture. When such a mixture
undergoes fast depressurization, like significant pressure
decrease in a Venturi meter, flashing of gases dissolved
in the liquid phase occurs. Taking into account the high
degree of dissolution of the natural gases in oil, the

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T. Elperin et al. / Flow Measurement and Instrumentation 13 (2002) 1316

release of the gases may significantly increase the volumetric flow rate of the mixture. Moreover, the mass
transfer changes the momentum transfer between the
phases. Both effects will give rise to the pressure drop
with subsequent incorrect interpretation of the flow
meter readings unless the effects of the dissolved gas
release are allowed for. The aim of the present study is
to qualitatively investigate the two-phase flow through
a Venturi meter in the presence of dissolved in liquid
gas, and to obtain a criterion indicating when the gas
release should be taken into account in the measurement process.

2. Basic equations
In the most general form, the motion of one-dimensional two-phase flow can be described using the twofluid model, when the single-phase flow theory is applied
to each phase separately. The governing equations are
as follows:
Continuity equation for phase i (i G, L):
d
(r a u A) ij
dz i i i

(1)

and
Momentum conservation equation:
dp
dui
riui rigcos(g,z) fi,
dz
dz

(2)

where z is spatial coordinate in the flow direction, ri,


ai and ui are density, holdup and velocity of phase i,
respectively, ij is the mass flux from phase i to phase
j at the channel section of area A and LG GL
m
A, fi denotes the force of interaction between phases
and friction forces. Eqs. (1) and (2) have to be complemented with closure relationships for gas void fraction
a, interface and wall friction forces fi, and volumetric
mass transfer rate m
.
Given the concentration C of the dissolved in liquid
gas, the volumetric mass transfer rate is
m
kLa(CCp),

(3)

where kL is the liquid side mass transfer coefficient, a


is the specific interfacial area and Cp is the equilibrium
concentration of the dissolved gas at pressure p, which
is assumed to be a linear function of pressure:
Cp Hp.

(4)

We neglected the mass transfer due to the homogeneous


nucleation in Eq. (3), since it is unlikely that during the
flow through the Venturi meter the concentration difference will reach the nucleation limit.
The mass balance for the control volume of liquid

phase yields the equation for the concentration of the


dissolved gas:
dC
(1a)uL m
.
dz

(5)

Analysis of the equation for the gas concentration shows


that the value of mass transfer and, consequently, the
degree of its influence on two-phase flow is higher in
flows with low gas void fraction, when the most likely
regime is bubbly flow. Hence, the assumption of homogeneous flow, i.e. uL uG, can be accepted for the
investigation of flows with dissolved gases. We also neglect the friction forces and gravitational pressure drop
since at high velocities, when the gas release is significant, they are negligible compared with the flow acceleration.
Combining continuity and momentum conservation
equations for both phases and using the aforementioned
assumptions, we obtained the following system of two
dimensionless equations

dP
1 dA
2U2
2NCNMUC
dZ
AdZ
d(C)
NM
1 dP

C
dZ
(1a)U
EudZ

(6)

where P (p0p) / 1 / 2rmu20 is the dimensionless pressure difference, Z z / D0 is the distance, A (D / D0)2
is the cross-sectional area, U u / u0 is the mixture velocity, and C (CCp) / Cp0 is the concentration difference normalized by the saturation concentration at inlet
conditions. The dimensionless parameters in Eq. (6) are
the Euler number, Eu P0 / 1 / 2rmu20; the ratio of gas
concentrations in liquid and gaseous phases, NC
Cp0 / rG; the dimensionless volumetric mass transfer
coefficient, NM D0kLa / u0; and rm stands for the mixture homogeneous density, rm arG (1a)rL. The
initial conditions for the system described by Eq. (6) are
C0 0, P0 0.
The first approximation to the solution of the system
described by Eqs. (6) can be obtained by observing that
the second term on the right-hand side (RHS) of the first
equation, i.e., the pressure drop due to gas release, is
much smaller than the pressure drop due to acceleration.
Thus, it is possible to solve for the concentration difference using the initial approximation for the pressure
drop P 11 / A2 and assuming that the mass transfer
coefficient and gas void fraction remain nearly constant
during the flow. This yields

1 dA
2
exp[b(h)b(Z)] 3 dh,
C(Z)
Eu
A dh
0

where

(7)

T. Elperin et al. / Flow Measurement and Instrumentation 13 (2002) 1316

b(Z)

NM
A(Z)dZ.
1a

(8)

For the general shape of the profile A(Z) the concentration difference along the Venturi is represented by an
incomplete gamma function. However, in the particulate
case A (1 KZ) 1, where coefficient K is determined by the Venturi outlet to inlet area ratio, Eq. (7) can
be integrated analytically to yield
C

NM
2
2
Eu
(1a)K

NM

A2A(1a)K .

(9)

Using this concentration profile the solution for the


pressure drop through the Venturi tube for flows of low
gas void fraction is
P (1b1)

4NMNC 2
(b 2b4 1),
EuK

(10)

where b is the Venturi outlet to inlet area ratio. The first


term on the RHS represents the acceleration pressure
drop, Pa, and the second is the pressure drop due to
the gas release, PM. The solution in Eq. (10) is valid
while PM / Pa1. The same condition can be used as
the estimate of the gas release influence on the Venturi
meter performance:
PM 4NMNC

(1 2b2).
Pa
EuK

15

where DL is the liquid diffusion coefficient (cm2/s), s is


the surface tension (dynes/cm2), mL is the liquid phase
dynamic viscosity (cP) and D0 is the tube diameter (in.).
The two-phase friction pressure drop (dp/dz)TPf is calculated using the LockhartMartinelli correlation [8]:
1
C
(dp / dz)TPf
1 2,
(dp / dz)Lf
X X

(13)

where X2 is the ratio of the friction pressure gradient


(dp/dz)Lf for the liquid flowing alone to that for the gaseous phase, (dp/dz)Gf. The value of the coefficient C
depends on flow regime (turbulent or laminar) of each
phase, e.g. for turbulentturbulent flow C 20.
The results of the model evaluation for three different
values of the initial gas void fractions are presented in
Fig. 1. It can be seen that at velocities of the order 3
m/s the relative magnitude of the pressure drop due to
the release of the dissolved gas is of the order of 1%,
and in flows with a low gas void fraction it exhibits fast
growth with the flow velocity, with little dependence on
the mixture composition. Although this model was
developed assuming a low void fraction we also applied
it to the flow with a high void fraction, a 0.5. The
result, anticipated by virtue of Eq. (5), confirms that the
effect of gas release on high void fraction flows is much
weaker than in the case of low void fraction.

(11)
4. Conclusions

Eq. (11) shows that, for particular a Venturi meter and


the same mixture, the effect of the gas release grows
approximately as the inlet mixture velocity squared.

3. Model evaluation

The developed model describing two-phase gasliquid


flows in the presence of dissolved gases in the liquid
phase demonstrates the importance of allowing for the
gas release when pressure drop devices are used for twophase flow measurements. It has been shown that even

The order of magnitude of the correction in Eq. (11)


can be estimated by applying the developed model to a
real system. For this purpose we chose the mixture of
black oil (stock tank gravity 40.5 API) and natural gas
(specific gravity 0.786 at 100 psig and 297 K) flowing
through a 3 Venturi meter of standard configuration (
K 1, b 1 / 4) at an initial pressure of 10 bar. The
properties of the fluids are specified in Danesh [3]. The
amount of gas dissolved in the liquid is given by a gas
to oil ratio (GOR) of 770 SCF/STB at a pressure of 10
bar. This corresponds to an initial saturation concentration Cp0 123 kg / m3. Since no data are available on
the mass transfer coefficient of oilgas mixtures we
adopted here the correlation based on the dissipation
rate e (dp / dz)TPf(UG UL) (Jepsen [5]):
kLaD0.5
s0.5m0.5
D0.68
3.47e0.4,
L
L
0
0.5
L

kLaD

0.5 0.5
L

18.75e

0.79

e 0.05atm / s
,
e0.05atm / s

(12)

Fig. 1. Relative magnitude of the pressure drop due to the release of


dissolved gas.

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T. Elperin et al. / Flow Measurement and Instrumentation 13 (2002) 1316

at moderate velocities the correction for this phenomenon can be of the order of several percent.
Although the model was developed using several simplifying assumptions which are not always valid in real
flows, there are still several applications in which the
solution obtained can be used. First, it can be employed
to estimate the limit when the models used in the metering process should be allowed for the effect of the gas
release. Such an estimation will be reliable for bubbly
flows where the assumptions of low void fraction and
flow homogeneity hold. It has also been shown that the
effect of gas release in flows with high void fraction is
minor. Further, the non-dimensional parameters, NC and
NM, appearing in the solution [Eq. (11)] can be used for
correlating the experimental data and developing the corrections for use in multiphase flow metering.

Acknowledgements
This study was partially supported by Agar Corporation (Houston, TX, USA).

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