Pioneering research into multiphase flow

Joanne McIntyre - 14 January 2016

A pioneering joint industry project (JIP) into the dynamic forces affecting the integrity of piping systems, particularly through multiphase flow, is underway.

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Mrs Joanne McIntyre
Joanne McIntyre is the Editor in Chief of Stainless Steel World magazine, and Conference Coordinator for the Duplex Seminar & Summit.
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International energy consultancy Xodus Group and Dutch innovation company TNO have completed the first phase of a pioneering joint industry project (JIP) into the dynamic forces which affect the integrity of piping systems, in particular through multiphase flow. The second phase of the project, which is expected to be run across three stages, is now open for new participants to join. Eight companies were involved in the first phase of the project: BP, Statoil, Total, Suncor, Shell, Lundin, Aker Solutions and FMC. TNO carried out the bulk of the test work at their facilities in the Netherlands, while Xodus managed the programme and developed CFD schemes to be able to reproduce the measured results. Based on the outcome of analyses by both companies, new scaling rules were produced. Additionally, CD-adapco provided software (STAR-CCM+) carried out simulations in support of the JIP.

Multiphase flow, the passage of more than one fluid, gas or chemical substance through a pipeline, can cause flow induced vibration (FIV). This is an increasing concern on subsea (and topsides) production piping systems. As data is limited in this highly technical arena, the aim of the JIP is to investigate and understand the forces induced by multiphase flow on piping systems, and generate validation data for multiphase computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to model and analyse its occurrence.

Phase 1 involved tests on a 1.5 R/D stiff bend for a range of flow conditions. The inlet pipe to the bend had three configurations: straight, u-bend vertical and u-bend horizontal. Detailed measurements were made to analyze the forces acting on the bend, pressure and void fraction distributions upstream, downstream and within the bend. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) calculations were carried out to compare test results with a range of flow conditions. It is anticipated that some of the findings from Phase 1 will be included into the Energy Institute's guidelines "Guidelines for the avoidance of vibration induced fatigue failure in subsea systems" due to be published shortly. Additionally, the findings from phase 1 are already being used by TNO and Xodus as well as the sponsors of the JIP.

Phase 2, which began in December 2015, is actively seeking additional sponsors and will look to extend the work carried out in Phase 1 to cover a range of bend radii. The scope is as follows:

  • Testing additional bend configurations
  • Preparation for testing at in service conditions for Phase 3
  • Additional CFD studies


The goal is to raise awareness of this complex issue and increase knowledge to incorporate into advance screening, simulation and prediction models. It is anticipated that Phase 3 will start at the end of 2016 or at the beginning of 2017. While the scope for Phase 3 has not been fully defined it is likely to include written guidelines based on the findings of the previous phases. In addition, high pressure testing is prepared for in Phase 2, to possibly be performed during Phase 3. Read the full article here.

Companies interested in being involved in Phase 2 can contact the Project Manager, Mike Lewis at email: mike.lewis@xodusgroup.com

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