Experimental Analysis on the Velocity of Oil Drops in Oil–Water Two-Phase Flows in Electrical Submersible Pump Impellers

by Rodolfo Marcilli Perissinotto, William Monte Verde, Jorge Luiz Biazussi, Marcelo Souza de Castro, Antonio Carlos Bannwart, published at Journal of Offshore Mechanics and Arctic Engineering, Volume 141(4), August 2019, 041301


The objective of this research is to investigate the velocity of oil drops within the impeller of an electrical submersible pump (ESP) working with oil-in-water dispersion flows at different operational conditions. An experimental study was conducted using an ESP prototype with a transparent shell designed to enable flow visualization within the impeller channels. The tests were performed at three rotational speeds, 600, 900, and 1200 rpm, for three water flow rates, 80%, 100%, and 120% of the best efficiency point (BEP). A high-speed camera (HSC) with a lighting set captured images of the oil-in-water dispersion at 1000 frames per second. The images observation suggests the presence of a turbulent flow in the impeller. The turbulence, associated with high rotation Reynolds numbers, causes the oil drops to become smaller as the impeller rotational speed and the water flow rate increase. Despite this rotating environment, the oil drops generally have a spherical shape. Regarding the kinematics, the images processing reveals that the velocity of oil drops has a magnitude around a unit of m/s. The velocity depends on the oil drop position in the channel: oil drops that stay close to a suction blade (SB) have significantly higher velocities than oil drops that stay close to a pressure blade (PB). Considering a complex flow with water velocity profiles and pressure gradients, the analysis of oil velocity curves indicates the occurrence of accelerations that may be caused by drag and pressure forces acting on the oil drops.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4042000

Access the full paper