Asim, Taimoor (2013) Computational Fluid Dynamics Based Diagnostics and Optimal Design of Hydraulic Capsule Pipelines. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Scarcity of fossil fuels and rapid escalation in the energy prices around the world is affecting efficiency of established modes of cargo transport within transportation industry. Extensive research is being carried out on improving efficiency of existing modes of cargo transport, as well as to develop alternative means of transporting goods. One such alternative method can be through the use of energy contained within fluid flowing in pipelines in order to transfer goods from one place to another. Although the concept of using fluid pipelines for transportation purposes has been in practice for more than a millennium now, but the detailed knowledge of the flow behaviour in such pipelines is still a subject of active research. This is due to the fact that most of the studies conducted on transporting goods in pipelines are based on experimental measurements of global flow parameters, and only a rough approximation of the local flow behaviour within these pipelines has been reported. With the emergence of sophisticated analytical tools and the use of high performance computing facilities being installed throughout the globe, it is now possible to simulate the flow conditions within these pipelines and get better understanding of the underlying flow phenomena.

The present study focuses on the use of advanced modelling tools to simulate the flow within Hydraulic Capsule Pipelines (HCPs) in order to quantify the flow behaviour within such pipelines. Hydraulic Capsule Pipeline is the term which refers to the transport of goods in hollow containers, typically of spherical or cylindrical shapes, termed as capsules, being carried along the pipeline by water. A novel modelling technique has been employed to carry out the investigations under various geometric and flow conditions within HCPs.

Both qualitative and quantitative flow diagnostics has been carried out on the flow of both spherical and cylindrical shaped capsules in a horizontal HCP for on-shore applications. A train of capsules consisting of a single to multiple capsules per unit length of the pipeline has been modelled for practical flow velocities within HCPs. It has been observed that the flow behaviour within HCP depends on a number of fluid and geometric parameters. The pressure drop in such pipelines cannot be predicted from established methods. Development of a predictive tool for such applications is one of the aims that is been achieved in this study. Furthermore, investigations have been conducted on vertical pipelines as well, which are very important for off-shore applications of HCPs. The energy requirements for vertical HCPs are significantly higher than horizontal HCPs. It has been shown that a minimum average flow velocity is required to transport a capsule in a vertical HCP, depending upon the geometric and physical properties of the capsules. The concentric propagation, along the centreline of pipe, of heavy density capsules in vertical HCPs marks a significant variation from horizontal HCPs transporting heavy density capsules.

Bends are an integral part of pipeline networks. In order to design any pipeline, it is essential to consider the effects of the bends on the overall energy requirements within the pipelines. In order to accurately design both horizontal and vertical HCPs, analysis of the flow behaviour and energy requirements, of varying geometric configurations, has been carried out. A novel modelling technique has been incorporated in order to accurately predict the velocity, trajectory and orientation of the capsules in pipe bends.

Optimisation of HCPs plays a crucial rule towards worldwide commercial acceptability of such pipelines. Based on Least-Cost Principle, an optimisation methodology has been developed for single stage HCPs for both on-shore and off-shore applications. The input to the optimisation model is the solid throughput required from the system, and the outputs are the optimal diameter of the HCPs and the pumping requirements for the capsule transporting system. The optimisation model presented in the present study is both robust and user-friendly.

A complete flow diagnostics and design, including optimisation, of Hydraulic Capsule Pipelines has been presented in this study. The advanced computational skills being incorporated in this study has made it possible to map and analyse the flow structure within HCPs. Detailed analysis on even the smallest scale flow variations in HCPs has led to a better understanding of the flow behaviour.

Final_Thesis_-_February_2013.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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