Foaming is a common phenomenon in the petroleum industry. Foams can be desirable for drilling applications, whereby the cutting bits are lubricated, and cuttings are carried up to the surface. However, foam can be undesirable for production operation, which hinders the gas-liquid separation process.
Experimental investigation has been conducted on foam break-up in a standalone Churn Flow Coalescer (CFC), a standalone Gas Liquid Cylindrical Cyclone (GLCC©) and a combined CFC/GLCC© system. A 1-inch Foam Characterization Rig (FCR) is utilized. The FCR is equipped with a 3-inch diameter CFC, which is connected in series to a 2-inch diameter GLCC©. A total of 30 experimental runs are conducted for both Gas Mode (GM) and Liquid Mode (LM) operations. A surfactant (SI-403) with concentration of 0.025%, superficial liquid velocities of 0.1 and 0.15 m/s and superficial gas velocities of 0.5, 1, and 1.5 m/s are used in the experiments.
The experimental results show that for the GM operation, the foam break-up in combined CFC/GLCC© system is more efficient than that in the standalone GLCC©, for the same flow conditions. Lowering the superficial gas velocity or increasing the superficial liquid velocity produce less stable foam, larger gas bubbles and lower half-life time. The outlet clear liquid flow rate (with no foam) under the LM operation increases with increasing superficial liquid velocity or decreasing superficial gas velocity. The recommended operational conditions for the CFC are at low superficial gas velocities, lower than the transition boundary to churn flow in the CFC.