Abstract

In the oil and gas industry, sand particle erosion damage to elbows is a common problem. The ability to predict erosion patterns is of great importance for sizing lines, analyzing failures, and limiting production rates. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) can be utilized to study the erosion behavior and mitigate the erosion problem for safety purposes and greater equipment longevity. In order to alleviate the adverse results of sand erosion in elbows, the current study investigated the potential of the geometrically induced swirl flow generated from flow passing through a four-lobed twisted pipe upstream of an elbow. To this end, first, the airflow in a standard elbow equipped with different swirl pipes was simulated using the SIMPLE method, then an Eulerian-Lagrangian approach was employed to track the particles, and finally, the erosion rate was computed. The simulation results indicated that the elbow’s maximum erosion rate with twisted pipes placed upstream of the elbow is lower than the one obtained for the standard pipe. In addition, as the twisted pipe position gets closer to the bend, the erosion rate further reduces. Thus, swirling flows provide a promising prospect as a mechanism to control the erosion rate in elbows.

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