Experimental study of growth kinetics of CO2 hydrates and multiphase flow properties of slurries in high pressure flow systems
The formation and accumulation of hydrates in high pressure oil and gas pipelines bring great risks to field development and deep-water transportation. In this paper, a high pressure flow loop equipped with visual window was used to study the growth process of hydrates in a pipe flow system and slurry flow characteristics. Deionized water, industrial white oil and CO2 were selected as the experiment medium. A series of experiments with different initial pressures (2.5–3 MPa), liquid loads (7–9 L), flow rates (25–35 kg min−1) and water cuts (60–100%) were designed and carried out. Specifically, hydrate formation and slurry flow characteristics in two different systems, pure water and oil–water emulsion system, were compared. Both of the systems experienced an induction stage, slurry flow stage and followed by a plugging stage. Although hydrate growth gradually ceased in the slurry flow stage, plugging still occurred due to the continuous agglomeration of hydrates. Visual observation showed that there were obvious stratification of the oil–water emulsion systems at the later time of slurry flow stage, which directly resulted in pipe blockage. The hydrate induction time of the flow systems gradually decreased with the increasing initial pressure, initial flow rate and water content. And the induction time tended to decrease first and then slowly increase with the increasing liquid loading. For emulsion systems, the apparent viscosity and friction coefficient of the hydrate slurry increased with the increasing water content, indicating that there were higher plugging risks compared to the pure water systems. Moreover, the results of sensitivity analysis showed that the water content was the main factor affecting the hydrate induction time, followed by the influence of liquid carrying capacity and flow rate, and the initial pressure had the least influence on the induction time. Conclusions obtained in this paper can provide some reference not only for the prevention and management of hydrates in pipelines, but also for the application of CO2 hydrate as a refrigerant.