Experimental Investigation on Velocity Fields, Vorticity, and Turbulence within the Stage of an Electrical Submersible Pump (ESP)

by Rodolfo M. Perissinotto, William D.P. Fonseca, Rafael F.L. Cerqueira, William Monte Verde, Jorge L. Biazussi, Erick M. Franklin, Antonio C. Bannwart, Marcelo S. Castro, presented at SPE FATC 2022, November 2022.



This paper presents an experimental study on the flow dynamics within an Electrical Submersible Pump (ESP) stage. An ESP prototype with transparent impeller and diffuser was designed and manufactured to allow flow visualization, which was achieved by using a Time-Resolved Particle Image Velocimetry (TR-PIV) system. Single-phase water flow tests were conducted in various flow rates corresponding to percentages of the Best Efficiency Point (BEP). The average velocity fields, vorticity contours, and turbulent kinetic energy values obtained in the whole impeller reveal that the flow behaviour is very dependent on the ESP operational condition. Energy losses due to turbulence are lower when the pump works at the BEP. But when the device operates at off-design conditions, the flow becomes complex, with high vorticity and turbulence which cause a reduction in the performance. This type of investigation may be useful to validate numerical simulations, support the proposition of mathematical models, or help create improved impeller designs.

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