Flow conditioners and high viscosity liquids, can they work together for optimal flow? Traditional knowledge has suggested otherwise, but our team at Canada Pipeline Accessories know that they can. 

In the past, liquid measurement applications with high viscosity and low Reynolds numbers typically didn’t use high performance plate style flow conditioners, usually opting for tube bundles instead. This was due to a misconception that the high performance plate flow conditioner has a significant pressure drop when used in non gas applications. However, the question of whether or not that is actually true came down to testing. 

 Flawed testing creates inaccurate results

Typically, very little liquid flow conditioner testing was done in heavy oil situations. Most flow conditioners were tested in natural gas applications, as this was what a majority of the test labs could support during development. These test results were often improperly extrapolated across the entire Reynolds number and liquid application range.

When we look at gas applications, tube bundles have a very slight advantage in pressure drop performance versus high performance plate flow conditioners. However, those test results were carried over to liquid applications, where, needless to say, pressure drop performance is much more complicated.  

Years of testing data shows that tube bundles significantly underperform high performance flow conditioners in all applications. Thus tube bundles have been used, regardless of well known performance deficits, all for just a supposed slight savings on the pressure drop.  Due to the higher viscosity of the fluid, every fraction of a psi that can be recovered is a reduction in pumping costs and meter station lifetime expenses. 

However these assumptions were incorrect. Devices behave differently in different fluids, and testing performance from high pressure natural gas is not immediately transferable to high viscosity fluids like oil. Recent testing has shown that the original assumptions are incorrect, particularly in heavy fluids, where we see tube bundles having significantly higher pressure losses, in higher orders of magnitude. This is due to the fact that the tube bundles have significantly higher surface area, which becomes a notable handicap in heavy fluid applications.

 CPA provides a better solution

Herein lies the problem: in viscous applications, tube bundles offer the worst performance and higher pressure drop compared with other flow conditioners. So what is the alternative? 

Simple. A CPA 65E from Canadian Pipeline Accessories. Our liquid optimized flow conditioner offers some of the lowest pressure losses in the industry, ensuring that pumping losses are kept to a minimum and meter station lifecycle costs are reduced. At the same time, the CPA 65E offers superior flow profile recovery and swirl elimination, returning fully developed flow in as little as 5 pipe diameters with API tested performance. 

Going the extra mile

At Canada Pipeline Accessories, your flow matters to us. It’s why we engage in our own testing, and ensure our products give you long term peace of mind backed with decades of performance data. If you’d like to explore the use of flow conditioners in heavy oil applications further, please contact our team today for an introduction to our products.