This a infrastructure grant from Scottish Higher Education Funding Council for building a low temperature laboratory and Flow Loop for Flow Assurance studies, in particular gas hydrates and wax. The plan is to use the low temperature laboratory for other gas hydrate studies, including gas hydrates in sediments, and gas hydrates for storage and transportation of energy. The project started in April 2006 for a period of two years.
The experimental equipment, in the two well-equipped hydrate laboratories, consists of more than 25 experimental rigs for investing various aspects of gas hydrates and flow assurance, including:
- Eleven autoclave type reactors with stirrers and torque measuring capabilities for measuring hydrate phase equilibria, kinetics of hydrate formation/dissociation, and evaluation of kinetic hydrate inhibitors/anti-agglomerants over a wide range of temperature and pressure conditions (-60 C to +70 C, up to 10,000 psia). Two of the above rigs have visual capabilities, whilst 4 others are constructed of either titanium or hastelloy, allowing work with corrosive systems (e.g. when salts are present). One of the above rigs is equipped with ultrasonic transducers for investigating the effect of various chemicals on gas hydrate kinetics and crystal size/morphology. This set-up also has Quartz Crystal Microbalance facilities for investigating water condensation and/or gas hydrate formation.
- Two rocking cells, with pressure ratings of 10,000 and 30,000 psia, for investigating hydrate phase equilibria and kinetics for various fluid systems. The low pressure cell is equipped with a quartz glass tube for visual observation.
- Two glass micromodel set-ups, with pressure ratings of 1200 and 6000 psia, for visual observation of gas hydrate formation, dissociation and distribution at the microscale. These rigs are predominantly used for investigating gas hydrate formation in porous media and/or the effect of various chemicals on gas hydrate crystal size and morphology.
- One porous media rig (6000 psia) for investigating the effect of pore size, saturation and wettability on gas hydrate phase boundary and the kinetics of gas hydrate formation in sediments.
- Three ultrasonic rigs (6000 psia) for investigating hydrate formation in various natural and synthetic sediments. Each rig has one moving and one stationary piston to simulate various overburden pressures and for assessing the effect of hydrate formation/dissociation on sediments’ geomechanical properties. The rigs are used to simulate various hydrate production scenarios.
- One visual wax-hydrate cell (7500 psia) for investigating wax and hydrate phase boundaries as well as effect of wax on hydrates and vice versa. The set-up is equipped with quartz crystal microbalance and pendant drop for measuring wax phase boundary and interfacial tension between various phases respectively.
- Three other blind wax-hydrate cells (up to 6000 psia) with Quartz Crystal Microbalance set-ups for wax or hydrate studies.
- One multiple cell (10 cells), high pressure (6000 psia) rocking set-up for investigating the performance of kinetic hydrate inhibitors.
- Two variable volume, rocking cells for various phase equilibrium studies.
The majority of experimental equipment is designed and built in-house. Recently, the Group have built a number of experimental set-ups for major operators and other research institutions. The Centre is equipped with various other experimental support facilities, including:
- Freezing point measurement equipment
- Boiling point measurement set-up
- Solubility and salting-out measurement set-up
- ASTM Cloud point determination set-up
- GC and GC/MS facilities
- Gas volume and flow meters
- High accuracy Quizix and other high pressure pumps