The propagation of pressure in a gelled waxy oil pipeline as studied by particle imaging velocimetry



Paraffinic crude oils in pipelines may form waxy gels during flow shutdowns. These gels can be dislodged by applying pressure if the wall shear stress, proportional to the local pressure gradient, exceeds the gel yield stress. The simplest models assume that the axial pressure profile becomes linear immediately after a jump in upstream pressure, but this fails to account for gel time-dependent rheology or the effect of gel voids on pressure wave propagation. To investigate the former factor, pressure profile and particle imaging velocimetry (PIV) measurements were performed on a model oil gelled under pressure to reduce void formation. After a jump in upstream pressure to a value insufficient to restart flow, the axial pressure profile becomes linear in a two-step process, with an immediate small rise in downstream pressure followed by a time-delayed jump. The local downstream gel deformation measured by PIV exhibits similar two-step time dependence. © 2011 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 2012