The upward vertical flow of oil-water mixtures

Authors

  • G. W. Govier,

    1. Professor of Chemical Engineering, Dean of Faculty of Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alta.
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  • G. A. Sullivan,

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    • Graduate student, University of Alberta, June 1958; Chemical Engineering Section, Canadian Industries Limited, Montreal. Que. from July 1958.

  • R. K. Wood

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    • Graduate student, University of Alberta, October 1959, Research Engineer, Canadian Chemical Co. Limited to August 1960; Graduate student Northwestern Unversity from September 1960.


Abstract

The upward vertical flow of oil-water mixtures has been investigated in a 37-ft. length of cellulose acetate butyrate tubing of inside diameter 1.038-in. Flow pattern, holdup and pressure drop data were obtained for water mixtures with 0.936, 20.1 and 150 centipoise oils at superficial water velocities ranging from 0.10 to 10.0 ft./sec.

The oil-water mixtures exhibited a behavior similar to that of air-water mixtures studied previously. The flow patterns observed at constant superficial water velocity with increasing oil-water ratio were: drops of oil in water, slugs of oil in water, froth, and drops of water in oil. Holdup of the phase forming the continuous medium was observed but to a much lesser extent than with the air-water system. Curves of pressure drop versus oil-water ratio exhibited a minimum, a maximum and a second minimum at low water velocities; a single minimum at intermediate water velocities; and a steady increase at superficial water velocities above about 5 ft./sec.

A friction factor based upon the properties and the superficial velocity of the water is correlated with the superficial velocity of the oil and a Reynolds number based on the properties and superficial velocity of the water. This shows that the pressure drop due to friction and other irreversibilities is essentially independent of the viscosity of the oil except under conditions where the oil is the continuous phase.

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