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Research Papers: Multiphase Flows

On the Performance of Air-Lift Pumps: From Analytical Models to Large Eddy Simulation

[+] Author and Article Information
E. M. Wahba

Mechanical Engineering Department,
American University of Sharjah,
Sharjah 26666, United Arab Emirates;
Mechanical Engineering Department,
Faculty of Engineering,
Alexandria University,
Alexandria 21544, Egypt
e-mail: emwahba@yahoo.com

M. A. Gadalla, D. Abueidda, A. Dalaq, H. Hafiz, K. Elawadi, R. Issa

Mechanical Engineering Department,
American University of Sharjah,
Sharjah 26666, United Arab Emirates

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Fluids Engineering Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF FLUIDS ENGINEERING. Manuscript received July 28, 2013; final manuscript received April 18, 2014; published online September 4, 2014. Assoc. Editor: Samuel Paolucci.

J. Fluids Eng 136(11), 111301 (Sep 04, 2014) (7 pages) Paper No: FE-13-1459; doi: 10.1115/1.4027473 History: Received July 28, 2013; Revised April 18, 2014

The present study investigates a hierarchy of models for predicting the performance of air-lift pumps. Investigated models range from simplified one-dimensional analytical models to large eddy simulation (LES). Numerical results from LES and from two different analytical models are validated against experimental data available from the air-lift pump research program at Alexandria University. Present LES employs the volume of fluid (VOF) method to model the multiphase flow in the riser pipe. In general, LES is shown to provide fairly accurate predictions for the air-lift pump performance. Moreover, numerical flow patterns in the riser pipe are in good qualitative and quantitative agreement with their corresponding experimental patterns and with flow pattern maps available in the literature. On the other hand, analytical models are shown to provide results that are of surprisingly comparable accuracy to LES in terms of predicting the pump performance curve. However, due to the steady one-dimensional nature of these models, they are incapable of providing information about the different flow patterns developing in the riser pipe and the transient nature of the pumping process.

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References

Figures

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Fig. 1

Schematic of the air-lift pump system

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Fig. 2

Computational domain for the air-lift pump

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Fig. 3

Close-up view of the fine grid for the air injection region

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Fig. 4

LES grid refinement results for the pump performance curve

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Fig. 5

Air-lift pump performance curve at H/L = 0.484

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Fig. 6

Air-lift pump performance curve at H/L = 0.74

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Fig. 7

Time history of the water mass flow rate at the exit section of the riser pipe (air mass flow rate = 2 kg/h, H/L = 0.484)

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Fig. 8

Numerical flow pattern prediction versus flow pattern map of Taitel et al. [31] for air mass flow rates of: (a) 1 kg/h, (b) 2 kg/h, (c) 4 kg/h, and (d) 10 kg/h

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Fig. 9

Contours of water volume fraction (air mass flow rate = 2 kg/h, H/L = 0.484) in the top portion of the riser pipe at (a) t = 10.2 s and (b) t = 14 s

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Fig. 10

Time history of the air inlet pressure (air mass flow rate = 2 kg/h, H/L = 0.484)

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Fig. 11

Numerical flow patterns in the middle third of the riser pipe for H/L = 0.484 at different air mass flow rates (a) 1 kg/h, (b) 4 kg/h, and (c) 10 kg/h

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Fig. 12

Time history of the water mass flow rate at the exit section of the riser pipe (air mass flow rate = 10 kg/h, H/L = 0.484)

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