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Modeling algorithm adjustment can improve equipment sizing

By Scott Jenkins |

The Brinkman method is one of several approaches used to predict the effective viscosity of oil-water mixtures, and is effective in simulations when one or the other phase is dominant. However, a significant level of uncertainty exists in mixtures where the oil and water levels are comparable. Engineers from software developer AspenTech (Burlington, Mass.; www.aspentech.com) have applied a proprietary adjustment to the Brinkman equations that improves predictions of effective viscosity in oil-water mixtures near the inversion point (when the dominant phase switches), and when high-viscosity oils are involved. The improved predictive tool enables engineers to more accurately size equipment, which can reduce capital costs and increase safety. Steve Noe, AspenTech manager of industry marketing, explains that when uncertainty exists in predictions of two-phase behavior, process engineers tend to overdesign, using the viscosity of the oil phase to specify equipment conservatively, when, in fact, the larger-sized equipment may be unnecessary. “Gross overdesigns can drive up capital costs, and negatively affect ROI [return on investment], whereas, conversely, underdesigning can introduce process risk,” Noe says. This proprietary…
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