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Fundamentals of Multiphase Flow

Chapter 1 - Introduction

The simultaneous flow of two or more phases through a conduit where the phases interact

at the interface is termed multiphase flow. Although s imultaneous flow of as many as four

phases namely, water, crude oil, gas and sand is not uncommon during oil exploration, flow of

two phase mixtures is the most common occurrence in industry. It covers a diverse range of

flow phenomena involving various combinations of phases like solid, liquid and gas. The

presence of an interface varying over space and time renders the hydrodynamics of two

phase flow substantially different from single phase. For example two-phase flow in a

fluidized bed can be differentiated from single phase flow of a fluid through a packed bed

of particles by considering the fact that in the former case, geometrical arrangement of

phase boundary (i.e particle spacing) is function of fluid flow while in the second case,

the geometry is fixed.

The different variations of two phase flow are

a) Gas–liquid flow – involves boiling, condensation as well as adiabatic flow. They

are common in power and process industries, refrigeration, air-conditioning and
cryogenic applications.

b) Gas–solid flow – pneumatic conveying, combustion of pulverized fuel, flow in a

cyclone separators are examples of this category of two phase flow.

c) Liquid–solid flow – this type of flow is encountered in slurry transportation, food

processing as well as in various processes in biotechnology.

d) Liquid–liquid flow – This type of flow is also characterized by the presence of a

deformable interface (similar to gas–liquid flow) and processes several features
similar to other two phase flow phenomena. Liquid–liquid flow is common in
petroleum industries and chemical reactors.
Method of analysis of single and two-phase flow: A comparison
It is interesting to note that two-phase flow occurs when an additional fluid is introduced
in the flow passage, but a straightforward extension of single-phase momentum equation
does not give us information about two-phase hydrodynamics. For example single-phase
pressure drop for flow of an incompressible fluid through an inclined pipe can be
obtained from the following equation:

dp S d
- = t + r g sin q + G 2 ( v) (1)
dz A dz

Where, τ, A, S, G, ρ and v are the wall shear stress, cross sectional area, interfacial area,

mass flux, density and specific volume of the fluid respectively.

However when we apply eqn (1) to two-phase flow, the corresponding equation is:

- dp dS1 dS 2 d
= t w1 + t w2 + r M g sin q + ( G1v1 + G2 v 2 ) (2)
dz dA dA dz

where ρ has been replaced by ρM and υ by υM. It may be noted that ρM ≠ 1/ υM since ρM is

an additive function of volumetric composition while υM is additive in terms of mixture

quality. Therefore, during two phase flow ρM and υM can be expressed in terms of

individual phase properties as,

rM = r 2 + (1 -  ) r1

vM = xv 2 + (1 - x ) v1
Further, there is no obvious relationship between the wall shear stress in single and two-

phase flow and we need information about the interfacial shear stress t i . In addition, S

includes S1 and S2 while A includes A1 and A2 where 1 and 2 are the two-phases. Single

phase flow can be categorised as laminar, turbulent or a transition between the two. On

the other hand, in two phase flow the phases can distribute themselves in a wide variety

of ways which is not under the control of an experimenter or designer and the phase

distribution can vary with:-

 Flow geometry (size and shape) and orientation (vertical, horizontal and inclined)

 Flow direction in vertical or inclined flows (up or down)

 Phase flow rates and properties (density, viscosity, interfacial tension, wettability)

In addition during two phase flow, the lighter fluid tends to flow past the heavier one. As
a result, the in-situ volume fraction is different from the inlet volume fraction of the two-
fluids. So any analysis of two-phase requires an accurate knowledge of:

a) The distribution of the two phase

b) The in-situ composition, which has no direct relationship with the inlet
composition and varies with phase physical properties, their flow rates and
interfacial distribution.

Thus it can be concluded that the hydrodynamics becomes more complex by the mere

introduction of a second phase in the flow passage and this can be attributed to the

following factors:-

1. Existence of multiple, deformable and moving interfaces

2. Multi scale physics of the flow phenomena

3. Significant discontinuities of fluid properties and complicated flow field

near interface

4. Compressibility of the gas phase (for gas-liquid and vapor liquid flows)

5. Different wall interactions for different fluids

Prior to an analysis of two phase flows it is important to understand the distribution of the

two phases in the test passage. The next chapter presents a comprehensive discussion on

the flow patterns which occur in circular conduits for different fluid pairs, conduit

orientation and so on. In Chapter 3 the different methods of analysis and the conventional

notations used in studies of multiphase flow have been elaborated in order to ensure that

consistent notations are used in subsequent analysis of multiphase flow in the following

chapters. In chapter 3, 4 and 5 simple analytical models namely the homogeneous flow

model, the drift flux model and the separated flow model have been elaborated and

specific application to different relevant flow patterns have been discussed. Henceforth,

chapter 6 discusses the measurement schemes of different hydrodynamic parameters

during two phase flow in order to provide a flavor of the additional difficulties

encountered during experimentation with two phase/multiphase flow situations. In order

to maintain conciseness, three parameters have been selected for the discussion. They are

(i) two phase pressure drop in order to highlight the additional complexities involved in

measuring two phase as compared to single phase pressure drop and two parameters

characterizing two phase flow namely (ii) in-situ composition and (ii) estimation of flow