In the past, oil-water-gas separation technology in the petroleum industry has relied mainly on conventional vessel-type gravity separators, which are bulky, heavy and expensive. Recently, the industry has shown keen interest in developing and applying compact separators that have low weight, possess low cost and are highly efficient. One economically attractive alternative to conventional vessel-type gravity separators is the Gas-Liquid Cylindrical Cyclone (GLCC©).
The GLCC© is a vertically installed pipe mounted with a downward inclined tangential inlet, with outlets provided at the top and the bottom of the pipe. Due to the tangential inlet, the flow forms a swirling motion producing centrifugal forces. The two phases of the incoming mixture are separated due to centrifugal and gravity forces. The liquid is forced radially towards the wall of the cylinder and is collected from the bottom, while the gas moves to the center of the cyclone and is taken out from the top.
Knowledge of the hydrodynamic flow behavior enable GLCC© users to correctly predict the performance of the GLCC© and to carry out appropriate design for applications. The separation mechanism of the GLCC© has been studied in the Separation Technology Projects of the University of Tulsa (TUSTP). Based on the understanding of the GLCC© physics, several models have been developed and implemented in Visual Basic Application, which can be used for design or performance prediction.
TOTAL (France) has identified the GLCC© technology as a key device in many process and made an effort to include all the models developed by TUSTP in the most commonly used process simulators (Aspen HYSYS, PRO/II, etc.). A methodology using the CAPE-OPEN standards has been adopted in order to connect the models with this type of software. The Unit Operation Wizard for VB6 compliant with version 1.0 of the CAPE-OPEN standards has been utilized to produce a GLCC© CAPE-OPEN compliant unit operation.