A 2D sediment bed morphodynamics model for turbulent, non-Newtonian, particle-loaded flows
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In petroleum drilling, cuttings transport problems, i.e. an accumulation of drilled of solids in the wellbore, are a major contributor to well downtime and have therefore been extensively researched over the years, both experimentally and through simulation. In recent years, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) has been used intensively due to increasing available computational power. Here, the problem of cuttings transport is typically investigated as a laminar/turbulent, potentially non-Newtonian (purely shear-thinning) multiphase problem. Typically, an Eulerian-Eulerian two-fluid model concept is utilized, where the particle phase is treated as a second continuous phase. Optionally, a granular flow model, based on the Kinetic Theory of Granular Flow (KTGF), may be used to account for the dense granular flow properties of cuttings forming a sediment bed. One issue of the state of the art CFD approach as described above is the proper resolution of the bed interface, as this may not be accurately resolved in an industrial-relevant CFD simulation. In this paper, an alternative approach is taken based on modeling concepts used in environmental sediment transport research (rivers, deserts). Instead of including the sediment bed in the computational domain, the latter is limited to the part of the domain filled with the particle-loaded continuous fluid phase. Consequently, the bed interface becomes a deformable domain boundary, which is updated based on the solution of an additional scalar transport equation for the bed height, which is based on the so-called Exner equation (Exner, 1925), a mass conservation equation accounting for convection, and additionally deposition and erosion in the bed load layer. These convective fluxes are modeled with closures relating these fluxes to flow quantities. As a first step, a 2D model was implemented in ANSYS Fluent R17.2 using Fluent’s dynamic mesh capabilities and User-Defined Function (UDF) interfaces. The model accounts for local bed slope, hindered settling, and non-Newtonian, shear-thinning viscosity of the fluid phase as well as turbulence. Model results are benchmarked with experimental data for five different operating points. Most probably due to the utilized unsteady Reynolds-Averaging framework (URANS), the model is not capable of predicting flow-induced dunes; however, it does predict bed deformation as a consequence of for instance non-equilibrium boundary conditions. Other model issues such as e.g. non-Newtonian formulations of the closures are identified and discussed.