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2023 | Book

Experimental Investigation of Deep‐Sea Oil Spills in a High‐Pressure Laboratory Environment


About this book

In the aftermath of the “Deepwater Horizon” oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the need arose for experimental data on oil and gas hydrodynamics and particle formation under deep-sea conditions. This work presents a new High-Pressure Test Center that allows for experimental oil spill research under artificial deep-sea conditions. It also contains experimental data on drop formation processes and oil drop size distributions generated within this test center and a modeling approach based on the turbulent energy dissipation that has been developed to predict the droplet sizes of an oil-and-gas jet under high pressure.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction
This chapter presents the background, objective and structure of this thesis.
Karen Malone
Chapter 2. State of Knowledge
This chapter presents the state of knowledge for both the technological and the experimental aspects of this thesis.
In section 2.1, the propagation of oil in the ocean after an oil well blowout is discussed on a macroscopic scale and an introduction to different aspects of oil spill modeling is given. In section 2.2, oil reservoir characteristics and physico-chemical properties of hydrocarbons are presented with regard to their importance for oil propagation. In addition, the specific conditions of oil reservoir, blowout conditions and seawater environment present during the MC252 Blowout are discussed. Section 2.3 presents the state-of-the-art knowledge of drop formation processes in an oil jet entering into seawater. The spatial allocation of these topics is shown in Figure 2.1.
The available technologies and facilities for laboratory investigations under deep-sea conditions are reviewed in section 2.4.
Finally, section 2.5 discusses how this thesis contributes to the open research questions in the aforementioned fields.
Karen Malone
Chapter 3. Development of the High‐Pressure Test Center
In this chapter, the development of an experimental platform called High-Pressure Test Center (HPTC) for the investigation of deep-sea phenomena in oil spill research is described.
Section 3.1 introduces the requirements and general design concept of the experimental system, which consists of a common platform and associated modules for individual experiments. In section 3.2, the laboratory platform and its components are presented. The last two sections handle the development and design of two experimental modules for oil spill research: the Jet Module for investigations of bubble and droplet size distributions (section 3.2.3) as described in chapter 4 and the Rising Path Module for long-term investigations of a single fluid particle rising through the water column (section 3.4).
Karen Malone
Chapter 4. Experimental Determination of Oil Droplet Sizes in an Artificial Subsea Blowout
This chapter presents the results and discussion of the investigation of drop size distributions using the Jet Module as described in the previous chapter 3.3.
In section 4.1, the design of the experimental studies is discussed and an overview of the performed experiments, test media and common experimental conditions is given. Sections 4.2 and 4.3 present the results of the different experimental series, which lead to a modeling approach of droplet size distributions based on the turbulent kinetic energy that is presented in section 4.4. In section 4.5, some phenomenological findings are presented. In the final section 4.6, the implications for full-scale deep-sea oil spills that may be derived from the research results at bench-top scale are summarized.
Karen Malone
Chapter 5. Summary and Outlook
This chapter presents a summary of the work and an outlook to future research options.
Karen Malone
Experimental Investigation of Deep‐Sea Oil Spills in a High‐Pressure Laboratory Environment
Karen Malone
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