Applying CFD in the Analysis of Heavy Oil/Water Separation Process via Hydrocyclone

K Angelim, A De Lima, J Souza, S Neto, V Oliveira, G Moreira


In recent years most of the oil reserves discovered has been related to heavy oil reservoirs whose reserves are abundant but still show operational difficulties. This fact provoked great interest of the petroleum companies in developing new technologies for increasing the heavy oil production. Produced water generation, effluent recovered from the production wells together with oil and natural gas, is among the greatest potential factors for environmental degradation. Thus, a new scenario of the oil industry appears requiring improvement in treatment units for produced water. Among the technological improvements in the facilities, the use of hydrocyclones has been applied in the treatment of the oily water. In this sense, this study aims to investigate numerically the separation process of heavy oil from a water stream via hydrocyclone, using the computational fluid dynamics technique. In the mathematical modeling was considered a two-phase, three-dimensional, stationary, isothermal and turbulent flow. Results of streamlines, pressure and volume fraction fields of the involved phases (oil and water) into the hydrocyclone, and mechanical efficiency and pumping power of the fluids are shown and analyzed. In conclusion, it seems that with increasing fluid input velocity in the device there is an increase in pressure drop, indicating a greater pumping energy consumption of the mixture, and greatly influences the separation process efficiency.

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