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The design features of the upstream piping, the inlet nozzle and the inlet device, have a strong influence on the overall performance of the separation system. For the most efficient separation processes, an even distribution of the flow over the inlet face of equipment is essential. In the case of gas/liquid separation, this uniformity helps to minimise liquid carryover, which is normally associated with mal-distribution of the flow at the inlet to the demisting equipment. For liquid/liquid separation, uniformity of the flow minimises any mixing before the fluid enters subsequent stages of the coalescing and separation equipment.

Many different types of inlet device are available for insertion into separator vessels, each having its own operational parameters, advantages and operational efficiency. Historically, the most common types have been "deflector plates", "simple baffle type" devices, "inverted dished heads", "pall ring boxes" and "half open pipes", although many other systems are described in the literature. Today, however, an increasing number of contractors and operators are moving away from these traditional types of inlet device towards more advanced designs, as understanding of the importance of correctly designed inlet devices and the limitations of the different systems grows.

Zeta-pdm Ltd offers a full range of the more traditional inlet devices and has a number of proprietary devices of a uniquely advanced nature.

Advantages of Inlet Devices:

  • Minimise the size of the upstream piping and inlet nozzle
  • Reduce capital expenditure (CAPEX)
  • Minimise droplet shatter
  • Reduce the momentum of the feed stream
  • Separate the “bulk” liquids
  • De-foam the incoming fluid
  • Reduce operating expenditure (OPEX)
  • Ensure good gas and liquid distribution onto the downstream equipment
  • Prevent re-entrainment of liquid from the gas / liquid interface
  • Prevent mixing at the liquid / liquid interface.

Case Studies

Motion Control on an FPSO

The upstream piping (or isometrics) will always dictate the condition of the flow entering the vessel. Special care should therefore be taken when designing the piping in a gas production system to minimize the risk of maldistribution and avoid the droplet shatter that could reduce the performance of the downstream separation internals. By modelling the isometrics with CFD, maldistribution can be reduced and the size of any droplets entering the separator can be predicted. This is useful for troubleshooting existing vessels and optimising the design of the process internals.

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