Hydrate Formation from Joule Thomson Expansion Using a Single Pass Flowloop

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Hydrate risk management is critically important for an energy industry that continues to see increasing demand. Hydrate formation in production lines is a potential threat under low temperature and high-pressure conditions where water and light gas molecules are present. Here, we introduce a 1-inch OD single-pass flow loop and demonstrate the Joule-Thomson (JT) expansion of a methane-ethane mixture. Initially, dry gas flowed through the apparatus at a variable pressure-differential. Larger pressure differentials resulted in more cooling, as predicted by standard thermodynamic models. A systematic deviation noted at higher pressure differentials was partially rectified through corrections incorporating heat transfer, thermal mass and kinetic energy effects. A wet gas system was then investigated with varying degrees of water injection. At the lowest rate, hydrate plugging occurred close to the expansion point and faster than for higher injection rates. This immediate and severe hydrate plugging has important implications for the design of safety relief systems in particular. Furthermore, this rate of plugging could not be predicted by existing software tools, suggesting that the atomization of liquids over an expansion valve is a critical missing component that must be incorporated for accurate predictions of hydrate plug formation severity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7594
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2023


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