Detecting Clathrate Hydrates using electrical tomography
ITS technology was used by researchers at the University of Tulsa and Chevron as part of a project exploring new technologies for hydrate detection.
Clathrate Hydrates are crystalline water-based solids resembling ice, and are hazardous to oil pipelines where they cause plugging and rises in pressure. However, recent reports from around the globe indicate that these precarious and unpredictable materials have the potential to be used for energy recovery, leading to a growing need to study hydrates and detect their presence in various environments.
To this end, ITS’s process tomography tools have been used to detect Clathrate Hydrates formed in oil and gas environments in laboratory and high pressure flow loop conditions. These tests were carried out at the University of Tulsa’s high pressure flow loop in Oklahoma, in collaboration with Chevron.
Due to the varying electrical properties of hydrates in oil and brine systems, a dual modality solution was used in this research (which combined electrical resistance tomography with electrical capacitance tomography) in order to cover oil-rich to water-rich systems. These ERT and ECT and measurements enabled visualisation of the four-phase system of gas, water, hydrate and oil in conditions at around 30-bar pressure and around -10°C.
The investigation itself focused on kerosene and crude oil systems; ITS technology detected hydrate formation and deposition in all the situations, at faster speeds than commercial nuclear based methodologies.
Qualitative results were obtained from this investigation and, although quantitative analysis has yet to begin, the initial review has proven favorable. These results were presented in a scientific paper that was shared at 8th International Conference on Gas Hydrates (ICGH8-2014) in Beijing, China by a participant of the trials.