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Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science 70 (2016) 29–50

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science

journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/etfs

The use of an ultrasonic technique and neural networks for identification

of the flow pattern and measurement of the gas volume fraction
in multiphase flows
M.M.F. Figueiredo a, J.L. Goncalves a, A.M.V. Nakashima b, A.M.F. Fileti b, R.D.M. Carvalho a,b,⇑
Instituto de Engenharia Mecânica (IEM-UNIFEI), Itajubá, MG, Brazil
Faculdade de Engenharia Química (FEQ-UNICAMP), Campinas, SP, Brazil

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: In the oil industry, the well stream often consists of a full range of hydrocarbons and a variety of
Received 28 October 2014 non-wanted components such as water, carbon dioxide, salts, sulfur, and sand. The need for multiphase
Received in revised form 11 August 2015 flow metering (MFM) arises when it is necessary or desirable to meter the flow upstream of the
Accepted 14 August 2015
separators. The ultrasonic technique fulfils many of the requirements for MFM in the oil industry (mainly,
Available online 21 August 2015
non-invasive, non-radiative, robust, and relatively non-expensive) and has the capability to provide the
information required. The drawback of current ultrasonic techniques, as is the case with other MFM
methods, is the need for prior signal calibration. A broader solution to this issue could be the use of
Ultrasonic technique
Neural networks
artificial neural networks (ANNs). ANNs provide a non-linear mapping between input and output
Multiphase flow variables and the cross-correlation among these variables and could be an alternative tool for automatic
Flow pattern identification of flow patterns. In this context, the objectives of the current investigation are two-fold:
Gas volume fraction (i) to present and analyze acoustic attenuation data for vertical, upward oil-continuous multiphase flows
in 1-in. and 2-in. acrylic pipes and flow patterns ranging from bubbly flows to annular flows; (ii) to
develop neural networks for flow pattern recognition and gas volume fraction (GVF) measurement using
the ultrasonic attenuation data as input. The results shown testify to the ability of the neural networks
and the ultrasonic technique to perform these tasks.
Ó 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction A detailed discussion of different instruments and techniques

that have been considered for MFM applications can be found in
A simplified view of an oil and gas production plant is shown in [3–5]. Table 1 below groups these instruments and techniques
Fig. 1. The wellheads on the left feed into production and test man- according to the flow parameter involved in their principle of oper-
ifolds; the remainder of the figure is the actual gas and oil separa- ation. The Remarks column summarizes information in the litera-
tion plant (GOSP). Often the well stream will consist of a full range ture [3,6] involving the application of these techniques to MFM.
of hydrocarbons and a variety of non-wanted components such as It can be seen that most techniques either call for additional
water, carbon dioxide, salts, sulfur, and sand [3]. Separation of research and development before they can be reliably applied to
these components is accomplished mainly by gravity production multiphase flows or still need further development despite already
separators. The need for multiphase flow metering (MFM) arises being used in MFM applications. Gamma densitometry, despite
when it is necessary or desirable to meter the flow upstream of requiring carefully implemented procedures to handle radioactive
the separators. MFM enables measurement of unprocessed multi- sources, is used in many commercial multiphase flow meters
phase streams very close to the well, thereby providing continuous (MPFMs) [3]. However, it is subject to errors due to phase distribu-
monitoring of well performance and better reservoir exploitation tion in time and space and thus needs to be used in combination
and drainage. with other devices that properly account for the flow upstream
conditions. Scheers [6] points out an almost 20% difference
between actual and measured gas volume fraction (GVF) in the
⇑ Corresponding author at: UNIFEI, Av. BPS, 1303, Bairro Pinheirinho, Itajubá, annular flow pattern using gamma ray densitometry.
MG 37.500-903, Brazil. Tel.: +55 35 8867 4154. Many other techniques in Table 1 can be seen to use radioactive
E-mail address: ridimarcar@gmail.com (R.D.M. Carvalho). sensors. In this connection, Arora [8] discusses the advantages of

0894-1777/Ó 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
30 M.M.F. Figueiredo et al. / Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science 70 (2016) 29–50


Latin symbols S total extinction area (m2)

a bubble or particle radius (m) T normalized amplitude of transmitted signal (–)
A projected cross sectional area (m2) TI intensity transmission coefficient (–)
A parameter defined in Atkinson and Kytömaa [1] T temperature (K)
(Pa s/m2) U amplitude of particle velocity (m/s)
A parameter defined by Isakovich [2] V voltage (V)
B parameter defined in Atkinson and Kytömaa [1] (kg/m3)
c speed of sound (m/s) Greek symbols
cp specific heat at constant pressure (J/kg K) a spatial absorption coefficient (Np/m or dB/m)
E acoustic pulse energy (V2 s / J) ac classical absorption coefficient (Np/m or dB/m)
I acoustic intensity (W/m2) ak thermal absorption coefficient (Np/m or dB/m)
jl spherical Bessel function of the first kind as viscous (Stokes) absorption coefficient (Np/m or dB/m)
k thermal conductivity (W/m K) b thermal expansion coefficient (K1)
k wave number (m1) c ratio of specific heats (–)
K wave vector (m1p ) ffiffiffiffiffiffiffi C interfacial area per unit volume (m2/m3)
j imaginary unity, 1 d boundary layer thickness (m)
n thermal wave vector (m1) g coefficient of shear viscosity (Pa s)
nl spherical Bessel function of the second kind j suspension effective bulk modulus of elasticity (Pa]
N border between transducer near and far fields (m) m particles fraction (–)
P pressure or pressure amplitude (Pa) q density (kg/m3)
r specific acoustic resistance (rayl) q suspension density (kg/m3)
RI intensity reflection coefficient (–) q parameter defined in Atkinson and Kytömaa [1] (kg/m3)
Re Reynolds number (–) x angular frequency (rad/s)
x spatial coordinate (m)

non-radioactive MPFMs over MFM techniques involving radioac- with the various health, safety, and environmental requirements
tive sensors. Non-radioactive MPFMs are much cheaper in terms for the latter. Furthermore, the costs related to export/import of
of construction because they do not use radioactive elements. In non-radioactive equipment are much lower because they do not
addition, the operational expenditure is much less than that of require specialized packing and clearance procedures. Finally,
radioactive instruments because of the enormous costs associated mobile non-radioactive MPFMs can be used with ease for well tests

Fig. 1. Oil and gas production overview – adapted from [7].

M.M.F. Figueiredo et al. / Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science 70 (2016) 29–50 31

Table 1
Classification of MFM instruments and techniques (adapted from [4]).

Measured flow Measurement principle Remarks

Mean fluid Vibrating tube Techniques not quite established yet; difficulties regarding their application to two-phase flows
density Weighing of tube
Phase fractions Electrical impedance Rapid response; however, if phases configuration is not known a priori, phase fraction cannot be
determined unambiguously; problems with phase inversion in oil–water flows
Acoustic attenuation Technique still under development; the relative importance of acoustic phenomena in the multiphase
flow depends on the flow pattern, thus requiring different data reduction methods
Single-beam gamma densitometry* Their use is restricted to truly homogeneous flows
Broad beam gamma densitometry* Advantages over single-beam offset by need for careful determination of collimator shape
Multi-beam gamma or X-rays Well established for void fraction and flow pattern measurements; errors due to phase distribution
Microwave resonance Resonant frequency measurements restricted to oil–water mixtures in sample lines; not effective in
water –continuous fluids; in the presence of gas technique is unlikely to work predictably
Gamma-ray scattering* Many measurements necessary to obtain void fraction; unlikely to find much use outside research lab
Neutron absorption* Neither technique offers sufficient advantage over gamma-ray, particularly in subsea applications
Neutron scattering*
Flow velocity Turbine flow meter Requires independent measurements of void fraction and quality or slip ratio; careful calibration required
unless flow is truly homogeneous
Vortex shedding meter Unlikely to be part of multiphase monitoring packages, except maybe for single-phase flow
measurements associated with component separation
Acoustic (pulse and return) meter Its application to multiphase flows still needs to be established by careful experiments
Acoustic cross correlation In-situ calibration is essential requirement for measuring multiphase flow velocity
Pulsed-neutron activation (PNA)* Phase fractions must be known beforehand; tagging of oxygen in water or impurities in oil and gas could
then yield flow velocity; much work needed for application in flows without homogenization
Electromagnetic flow meter Advantages when applied to homogenized gas–air–water mixture; viability and application range in
oil–water–gas flows still have to be established
Gamma-ray*/Neutron*, All of them use the cross correlation process, thus requiring extensive in-situ calibration
Capacitance/conductivity cross
Volume/mass EMFM/TMFM/PNA*, vibrating tube (EMFM – Electromagnetic flow meter; TMFM – True mass flow meter) TMFM is promising for allocation
flow rate (custody transfer) and possibly fiscal metering; problems relating to phase fraction measurement
Momentum Venturi meter Its application to heterogeneous flows requires calibration for particular conditions at hand
flux Pressure fluctuation signals For a given flow pattern, statistical characteristics of pressure fluctuations may be used to determine
phases momentum fluxes and component velocities; practical applications require extensive in-situ
Requires radioactive sensor.

during the fluid drilling phase for early production checks without The ultrasonic techniques represent a promising alternative to
the need for any of the special safety requirements associated with the costly, complex, and hazardous techniques in Table 1. In this
radioactive MPFMs. regard, Poette and Reynier [12] presented a study comparing
The use of impedance devices to characterize multiphase flows non-intrusive techniques for three-dimensional mapping of multi-
dates back to the 1960s [3]; it has also been used in commercial phase flows occurring during tank sloshing. This is a key issue for
MPFMs [4,6]. However, impedance methods can be highly sensitive assuring propellant feeding during flight and manoeuvers of
to the flow pattern within the channel [3] and are subject to the launchers and satellites. Particular attention was paid to electrical
phase inversion problem, i.e. when the flow changes from oil con- and ultrasonic tomography since they are both non-intrusive, non-
tinuous to water continuous detection has to change from capaci- invasive, low cost, fast and simple to operate, and suitable for real
tance to conductance. In addition, the electrodes have to be in time measurements. The ultrasonic technique was deemed more
direct contact with the flow (the technique is invasive), which promising for the intended application as it is less affected by tem-
might lead to difficulties in building the measuring instrument in perature variations and also represents an advantage in terms of
some cases. Tan et al. [9] presented a measurement system that safety. An extensive review on the use of the ultrasonic technique
combines conductance-ring sensors (CR) for phase fraction mea- in the context of MFM can be found in [13]. Ultrasonic signals can
surement and a differential pressure cone meter for overall flow fulfill the requirements of remote sensing, long distance signal
rate measurement. The system is intended for application to transmission, and harsh operating conditions normally encoun-
water–oil (liquid–liquid) flows, but the authors claim the proposed tered in the oil industry. In multiphase flows, as the concentration
methodology can be extended to gas–liquid two-phase flows. and size distribution of the dispersed media (solid particles and/or
However, no experimental data are provided for these flows. gas bubbles) change the signal amplitude and transit time vary due
It is noteworthy the wire-mesh impedance technique [10,11], to the combined effect of acoustic attenuation and transmission
which can be used to determine the instantaneous void fraction phenomena; these issues are further discussed in Section 3.2. For
distribution over the pipe cross-section. Even though intrusive, detailed information regarding acoustic phenomena, including
invasive, and still restricted to the laboratory environment, this sound absorption in heterogeneous flows, the reader is referred
technique exhibits high temporal resolution, low cost, and simplic- to specific textbooks on the subject, e.g. [14–16].
ity when compared with other imaging systems. In connection Many investigations in the literature deal with the ultrasonic
with traditional electrical capacitance tomography (ECT), it is technique for measurement of velocity of the dispersed phases
cheaper, faster, and safer than radiation based tomographic tech- [17–24]. Of more immediate interest to the present investigation,
niques and can be readily automated and digitized; nonetheless, acoustic attenuation was used to measure the void fraction of bub-
it is subject to the phase inversion problem and its spatial resolu- bly water–air flows [25]; a semi-empirical model of the interaction
tion is inferior to that of nuclear based tomography [3]. of the sound wave with the two-phase flow was developed. Chen
32 M.M.F. Figueiredo et al. / Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science 70 (2016) 29–50

et al. [26] theoretically and experimentally investigated the feasi- observed the ultrasonic field to be affected by the size of oil dro-
bility of using acoustic resonant spectroscopy (ARS) to measure plets. In addition, by using symbolic dynamic filtering (SDF) based
the gas volume fraction of gas–liquid flows. The experiment con- on analytic signal-space partitioning (ASSP), the relationship
sisted of a cylindrical cavity with open ends immersed in trans- between the average amplitudes of the ultrasonic signals with
former oil through which air was bubbled; their effect on the the oil fraction could be made linear for oil fractions up to approx-
resonant frequency (RF) and resonant amplitude (RA) of the assem- imately 35%. Meribout et al. [36] used ultrasonic sensors in combi-
bly was captured by a hydrophone. Air bubbles of volume smaller nation with impedance sensors to determine the oil and water
than 0.1% of the cylindrical cavity size were capable of causing a fractions of oil–water–gas flows. The gas fraction was obtained
prominent RF shift; this shift was maximum when the bubbles from a previously calibrated Venturi meter and pressure probes;
were located in the middle of the cavity. However, both the RF the total mass flow rates were divided in ranges for further data
and RA were observed to decrease dramatically with increasing reduction and determination of the oil and water fractions. No
gas flow rate, thus decreasing the sensitivity of the technique. Xing information was provided on the oil used. The ultrasonic instru-
et al. [27] presented an investigation on the potential use of a mentation consisted of low (4 MHz) and high frequency
single-path gas ultrasonic flow meter for measuring gas–liquid (23 MHz) sensors to be used with high and low gas fractions,
two-phase flows of low liquid loading, e.g. flows of wet natural respectively. From preliminary results, the authors verified that
gas. A correction method based on the use of traditional void frac- more accurate oil and water cut measurements could be obtained
tion models was proposed whereby metering of individual flow by using the ultrasonic technique in the 33–46% and 82–100%
rates of stratified and annular flows could be achieved with less water cut ranges; in the remaining ranges, the capacitance/conduc-
than 5% rms error. tance probes provided more accurate results. Data reduction to
Murai et al. [28] presented an ultrasonic method for measuring obtain individual flow rates was accomplished by means of artifi-
the spatial distribution of the void fraction aimed at solving a prob- cial neural networks (ANNs), one for each total mass flow rate
lem that occurs in the ultrasonic sensing of bubbles in liquids, i.e. range. It was then possible, for the operating conditions used and
the difficulty of the ultrasound to provide information beyond a 500 Hz sampling rate, to track real-time variations in the water
the bubble closest to the transducer. Two signal processing and gas fraction as well as in the total mass flow rate.
schemes were used, the echo intensity and the Doppler methods; The drawback of current ultrasonic techniques, as is the case
the former technique was suited for small spherical bubbles while with most MFM methods, is the need for prior signal calibration.
the latter one was better suited for large bubbles. Data were pre- A lengthy discussion on calibration of multiphase flow meters
sented for water–air bubbly and slug flows. Later on, Murai et al. (MPFMs) can be found in [37]. As discussed by this author, the pri-
[29] experimentally compared three different ultrasonic tech- mary measurement elements that make up a MPFM can usually be
niques for detection of moving gas–liquid interfaces, namely, echo calibrated according to standard procedures, similar to those used
intensity, local Doppler, and velocity variance. Data were presented for single-phase flow measurements. However, contrary to single-
for free traveling waves, bubbly channel flow, rotating free surface, phase meters, the output of the primary measurements of a MPFM
free-rising bubbles, and slug flow in pipes. It was concluded that is used as the input to advanced signal-processing algorithms for
the use of the three different techniques can extend the applicabil- calculation of individual phase flow rates. Calibration is then lim-
ity of ultrasound for detection of gas–liquid interfaces that move ited by the fact that each oil field is different and no flow loop fluid
passively and actively in two-phase flows. used for calibration will be representative of an application unless
The ultrasonic technique has also been used to measure the dis- those particular field fluids are brought into the loop and operated
persed phases concentrations in three-phase and two-phase flows at field pressure and temperature. Hence, a specific product used as
(air–oil; glass beads – oil; and air–glass beads–oil) [30,31]. Investi- calibration fluid for a particular application may not be representa-
gators in [30] observed the signal attenuation to increase exponen- tive of any other product or well stream [37].
tially with increasing interfacial area of both the solid and gas In view of these calibration issues, a broader solution could be
phases. The air bubbles were said to have caused an increase in the use of artificial neural networks (ANNs). ANNs are considered
the acoustic wave transit time. Besides confirming the observa- an alternative tool for the automatic identification of flow patterns
tions in [30], investigators in [31] also verified that the statistical [3] and since the early 80s they have been used extensively for
scatter in the transit time and in the signal amplitude increased applications such as adaptive control, model based control, process
as the gas holdup increased. More recently, Carvalho et al. [32] pre- monitoring, fault detection, dynamic modeling, and parameter
sented a detailed discussion of the ultrasonic signal waveforms and estimation [38]. ANNs provide a non-linear mapping between
how they relate to the computation of the acoustic parameters; the input and output variables and the cross-correlation among these
authors then correlated the attenuation of the acoustic signals with variables. A detailed description of a combination of ANNs and
void fraction for vertical, upward water–air flows in 2-in. ID acrylic MFM, using a venture tube and a density meter, can be found in
pipes. Tanahashi et al. [33] extended on this work and demon- [3]; the ANNs provided higher accuracy for flow rates predictions
strated that the ultrasonic technique has the potential to provide than fluid mechanics models. Shaikh and Al-Dahhan [39] devel-
real-time information about the structure of intermittent horizon- oped an ANN to predict the overall gas holdup in bubble column
tal slug flows as well as estimates of the individual gas and liquid reactors using dimensionless fluid mechanics groups as input. Rosa
flow rates for this particular flow pattern. Gonçalves [34] obtained et al. [40] performed a direct comparison of three different types of
ultrasonic data for vertical, upward, liquid–gas–solid flows in 1-in. ANNs (multilayer perceptron, MLP; radial basis function, RBF; and
and 2-in. ID acrylic pipes. Mineral oil was used as the continuous probabilistic neural network, PNN) and expert systems to predict
phase and the flow patterns evolved from bubbly to annular flow. the flow patterns of vertical upward water–air flows based on
The acoustic data reduction method initially presented in [32] was measurements from a wire resistivity probe. The ANNs exhibited
improved for application to these multiphase flows more represen- similar performances with percentages of correct predictions in
tative of the oil industry. the 96–100% range. The expert systems exhibited performances
Zhai et al. [35] used an ultrasonic technique to measure the oil similar to the ANNs, but the rule creation and the encoding process
fraction in water-continuous water–oil flows in a vertical 20-mm can be cumbersome with this methodology. Filletti and Seleghim
pipe; the oil fraction was as high as 65%. The authors used two [41] numerically simulated the propagation of an acoustic pulse
ultrasonic sensors at 0° and 180° in transmission mode only and through a water continuous water–oil mixture by discretization
M.M.F. Figueiredo et al. / Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science 70 (2016) 29–50 33

of the wave equation in a fluid; the numerical results were then 2. Experimental apparatus and procedure
used to train a neural network to provide the dispersed phase frac-
tion and interfacial area. The effect of the geometrical distribution 2.1. Multiphase flow test rig
of the phases was taken into account by the local acoustic wave
velocity in the discretization scheme. Inoue et al. [42] developed The multiphase flow test rig is depicted in Fig. 2. Experiments
an ANN for identification of two-phase flow patterns (discrete bub- can be run in either a 1-in. or a 2-in. ID vertical acrylic pipe; the
bles, stratified flow, slug flow, and annular flow) using as input five ultrasonic station is located 6 m from the bottom end of the pipe
dimensionless groups that account for the competing forces occur- and a fast closing valves device is used for measurement of the
ring in a multiphase flow. Care was taken to include in these GVF. This system closes up approximately 1-meter section of the
groups only variables that are routinely available in the oil indus- pipe around the ultrasonic test section. A high-speed filming sta-
try. An initial database was created for training and validating the tion is located just downstream of the ultrasonic test section. The
ANN; this database includes data from the literature for several continuous phase can be either water or oil; a separate tank with
fluid and geometry combinations and the laboratory data of a mixer is used for suspensions. The flow rates can be adjusted
Carvalho et al. [32] and Gonçalves [34]. by frequency inverters that control the pumps RPM. At the bottom
In this context, the general objective of the present work is to of each acrylic pipe there is a porous medium through which com-
develop ANNs for flow pattern and GVF predictions based on pressed air is injected into the flow.
acoustic measurements using a relatively simple ultrasonic appa- The liquid flow is measured by a Rheonik RHM12 model,
ratus to be discussed below. This apparatus should simultaneously Coriolis-type flow meter (from 0.75 up to 100 kg/min ± 0.2%),
capture different aspects of the acoustic attenuation and transmis- which includes a ±1 °C accurate thermometer. The air flow rate is
sion phenomena (pulse-echo, direct transmission, and scattering); measured by a 3–30 ± 0.1 LPM Cole-Parmer, variable area, acrylic
in addition, the apparatus should have the potential to provide real flow meter. Pressure inside the pipes was measured by 0–4
time measurements of the flow pattern and the GVF in practical psi ± 0.2 psi Bourdon pressure gauges; atmospheric pressure mea-
applications of the oil industry. The specific objectives are two- surements came from a barometer. The air at the injection point
fold: (i) to present and analyze a comprehensive set of acoustic was assumed to be at ambient temperature as measured by a
attenuation data for vertical, upward, oil-continuous multiphase ±0.5 °C accurate bulb thermometer; this assumption underesti-
flows in 1-in. and 2-in. acrylic pipes for flow patterns ranging from mates the compressed air temperature but the error in the calcula-
bubbly flows to annular flows; (ii) to develop neural networks for tions of the air flow rate at the ultrasonic station is not significant.
flow pattern recognition and GVF determination using the acoustic The high-speed camera is a 512  512 resolution, 5000 fps RED-
attenuation data as input. LAKE Motion Pro X4 model.

Fig. 2. Schematic view of the multiphase flow test rig.

34 M.M.F. Figueiredo et al. / Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science 70 (2016) 29–50

2.2. Ultrasonic instrumentation and stored in Microsoft Excel spreadsheets for plotting and
The ultrasonic instrumentation was kept as simple as possible
(Fig. 3) as it is intended for use in real-time applications of the
oil and gas industry. The use of only four transducers allows for 2.3. Experimental procedure
less CPU usage during testing and smaller data files. Further details
about the selection of the number of transducers and their location Table 2 shows the flow types tested in the multiphase flow test
are given in Section 3.2.6. rig. Data were obtained for the 1-in. and 2-in. pipes for various
A schematic view of the ultrasonic data acquisition system is combinations of phases. The use of polyamide was intended for
shown in Fig. 4. Panametrics Videoscan 2.25 MHz, 13 mm diameter velocity measurements using the Doppler technique; these results
ultrasonic transducers were mounted on acrylic adapters as shown will be discussed in a separate paper. Table 3 shows the ranges of
in Fig. 3. The 0° sensor was a dual element, model DHC706-RM operating conditions tested. The GVF was made to vary between 0%
pulse-echo transducer and the 45°, 135°, and 180° sensors were and 85% for the 1-in. pipe while for the 2-in. pipe it varied from 0%
single element, model V106-RM receivers. The pulser used was to 35% due to limitations in the test rig. In addition, due to the dif-
Olympus 5077PR, which allows for adjustments of the pulse width ficulties in working with crude oils, experiments were run with
and thus a more efficient excitation of V106-RM transducer crystal. mineral oil as the continuous phase (q = 814.5 kg/m3 and
This increases the sound intensity of the emitted signals, which are l = 41.36 mPa s at 20 °C). Glass beads, 80–600 lm in diameter,
sinusoidal and last approximately 1.5 ls. However, how long the were used to simulate the sand contents. The values for the liquid
V1060-RM pulse-echo transducer will oscillate in a given situation
depends on factors such as damping material, test material proper- Table 2
ties, and voltage. A detailed discussion of the signals obtained in Types of flow tested in the multiphase flow test rig.
the present investigation is given in Section 3.3 (Analysis of Ultra-
Pipe ID Flow type Component
sonic Signals). Ultrasonic data were acquired by means of a National
(in.) identification
Instruments PXIe-1062Q acquisition board using the resident Lab- Mineral Air Polyamide Sand Water
Oil (0.1% w/w) (1% w/w) (10% v/v)
VIEWÒ software. Connections #1 through #4 in Fig. 4 send the
received acoustic signals to the PXI, which in turn transfers the 1 O–A X X
data to the computer for further manipulation. Connection #5
ensures synchronization between the pulser and the PXIe-1062Q. O–A–P–S–W X X X X X
Hence, every time an ultrasonic pulse is sent out, the pulser signals
2 O–A X X
it to the PXI so that proper time windows for data acquisition from O–A–W X X X
each sensor are then set up as discussed in Section 3.3. Connection O–A–W–S X X X X
#8 ensures synchronization between acquisition of the high-speed
O–A: Oil–Air, O–A–P: Oil–Air–Polyamide, O–A–P–S: Oil–Air–Polyamide–Sand,
filming and the ultrasonic data. The data was reduced in MatLabÒ O–A–P–S–W: Oil–Air–Polyamide–Sand–Water, O–A–W: Oil–Air–Water, O–A–W–S:

Table 3
Operating conditions for the experiments in the multiphase flow test rig.

Pipe ID Flow type Parameter

GVF jl jg Toil ptestsection
(%) (m/s) (m/s) (°C) (kgf/cm2)

1 O–A 0–83 0.10–0.30 0–0.17 24 0.5

O–A–P 0–85 0.10–0.26 0–0.37 22 0.4
O–A–P–S 0–84 0.10–0.30 0–0.10 21 0.4
O–A–P–S–W 0–82 0.10–0.28 0–0.16 24 0.7
2 O–A 1–33 0.05–0.17 0–0.02 30 0.4
O–A–W 0–36 0.04–0.17 0–0.04 31 0.5
O–A–W–S 0–36 0.04–0.17 0–0.02 27 0.5
Fig. 3. Schematic view of the ultrasonic instrumentation.

Fig. 4. Schematic view of the ultrasonic data acquisition system.

M.M.F. Figueiredo et al. / Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science 70 (2016) 29–50 35

superficial velocities, jl, are only approximate as the solid contents Fig. 5 shows the observed oil–air flow patterns in the 100 pipe. For
would flow along with the liquid through the coriolis meter. GVF values from 0% to approximately 4%, bubbly flow was the
The ultrasonic data acquisition rate was set to 20 MHz in order observed pattern (Fig. 5a); bubbles were approximately 2 mm in
to avoid any aliasing effects. The sampling interval and the pulse size. For GVF around 4%, coalescence started taking place and cap
generation rate were 7.5 s and 2 kHz, respectively, which makes bubbles were already present. Dispersed bubbles and cap bubbles
for 15,000 pulses in each acoustic sample. The 7.5-s sampling coexisted in the pipe up to about 14% GVF (Fig. 5b). The cap bub-
interval allows for representative samples of the flows topology bles were approximately 20 mm in diameter and just as long while
to be obtained as discussed above. The 2 kHz pulse generation rate the dispersed bubbles were in the 0.5–2.5 mm range. For GVF val-
by the 5077PR pulser was determined by considering the flow dis- ues in the 14–30% range, slug flow was observed with smooth
placement between pulses for the maximum superficial velocities stable interfaces (Fig. 5c). The Taylor bubbles were slightly over
in Table 3 and transducers overheating limitations. 20 mm in diameter and about 200 mm long. In the liquid slugs,
An attempt was made to vary the GFV in approximately 2.5% the dispersed bubbles were the same size as before, i.e. in the
increments and keep a fixed number of five acoustic samples for 0.5–2.5 mm range. From 30% to 45% GVF, the Taylor bubbles inter-
each condition. (Two consecutive samples were separated by face became irregular and started breaking up into small bubbles,
approximately two minutes, which was the time necessary to approximately 2 mm in size (Fig. 5d). For purposes of analyzing
transfer the previously acquired data to the computer hard disk.) the ultrasonic signals in the sections to follow, the flow patterns
However, because the test rig was not a closed loop system, deple- in the 14–30% range will be called simply slug flow while the pat-
tion of fluids in the tanks forced in-time adjustments to the testing terns in the 30–45% range will be called unstable slug flow. For GVF
procedure. In addition, the liquid and gas flow rates for the desired in the 45–75% range, churn flow existed in the pipe (Fig. 5e). Above
GVF were previously calculated based on the homogeneous model, 75% annular flow was the observed pattern (Fig. 5f); the liquid film
which did not correspond to the actual GVF measured by the fast was approximately 2.5 mm thick and the dispersed bubbles were
closing valves device. Therefore, the resulting GVF increments very small, from 0.2 to 0.8 mm. In the experiments with three-
and the number of acoustic samples for each condition varied as phase oil–air–solids flows and four-phase oil–air–water–solids
the flow patterns evolved. Temperatures measurements were flows, the observed patterns were essentially the same as those
made at the beginning and end of each test series in order to obtain for oil–air flows.
the fluid properties. In the 200 pipe, the flow patterns were less clear due to water
emulsification in the oil. However, due to the increased turbulence
3. Results and discussion bubbles could be observed to coalesce more easily than in the 100
pipe to form small cap bubbles (Fig. 6a). These bubbles increased
3.1. Discussion of visual data in size for GVF up to 12% and were surrounded by smaller bubbles
about 1–10 mm in size (Fig. 6b). Smooth interface Taylor bubbles
Knowledge of the flow patterns greatly simplifies the analysis first appeared at 14% GVF (Fig. 6c) and increased in size up to about
and understanding of events showing up in the ultrasonic signals. 35% GVF (Fig. 6d), also surrounded by 1–10 mm bubbles.

(a) (b) (c) (d) (e) (f)

Fig. 5. Oil–air flow patterns in the 100 pipe: (a) bubble flow; (b) cap bubbles; (c) stable slug flow; (d) unstable slug flow; (e) churn flow; (f) annular flow.

(a) (b) (c) (d)

Fig. 6. Oil–air flow patterns in the 200 pipe: (a) small cap bubbles; (b) large cap bubbles; (c) stable slug flow; (d) unstable slug flow.
36 M.M.F. Figueiredo et al. / Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science 70 (2016) 29–50

For each operating condition, the flow pattern was identified by plane waves (far field) and it is meant only as a guide for reasoning
careful analysis of the visual data. Flows for which there were only on the relative importance of the various acoustic phenomena in
small discrete bubbles in a narrow size range were classified as the present apparatus.
bubble flows; the same classification was applied even if small
cap bubbles were present. When these cap bubbles would grow 3.2.1. Acoustic dissipation in the continuous phase
into much bigger cap bubbles, taking up a substantial portion of In multiphase flows, acoustic dissipation results from the com-
the pipe cross-section, or incipient Taylor bubbles, the flows were bined effects of dissipation in the continuous phase as the sound
considered having entered the intermittent regime. This was also wave propagates through the continuous medium and dissipation
the classification of flows with developed Taylor bubbles at higher at the interfaces present in the flow. In the continuous phase, the
GVF values. Once the Taylor bubbles became unstable and started acoustic intensity decays according to the following equation [14]:
breaking into small bubbles and the flow as a whole exhibited a
pulsating behavior, churn flow was the classification adopted. IðxÞ ¼ ðP0 eax Þ =2q0 c ¼ Ið0Þe2ax ð1Þ
Finally, when the gas phase was segregated into a continuous core
where P0 and Ið0Þ are, respectively, the acoustic pressure amplitude
in the pipe inner region surrounded by a liquid film on the pipe
and intensity at x = 0 and a is the absorption coefficient in nepers
wall, annular flow was the obvious classification. These four flow
per meter (Np/m).
patterns were the ones used for identification by the neural net-
Absorption in the continuous phase occurs due to many differ-
works discussed in Section 4. It was preliminarily verified that
ent mechanisms depending on the specific fluid at hand, e.g. vis-
the use of churn flow as a separate category allowed for more accu-
cous and thermal absorption associated with the compressions
rate results by the pattern recognition algorithm than when these
and rarefactions of the fluid by the acoustic wave, molecular ther-
flows were included in the intermittent flow pattern category.
mal relaxation, structural relaxation (related directly to volume
changes – and not to temperature changes – in polar liquids such
3.2. Acoustic dissipation mechanisms and definition of acoustic as water), chemical relaxation, and so on. The classical acoustic
parameters theory considers the viscous and thermal absorption due to the
compressions and rarefactions of the fluid to be the only mecha-
The derivation for the acoustic field generated by a baffled plane nisms present so that the absorption coefficient is given by:
circular piston can be found in [14], which is a geometry that  
x2 4 ðc  1Þk
approximates the one in the present investigation. Closed-form ac ¼ as þ ak ¼ gþ ð2Þ
2q0 c3 3 cp
solutions of this field exist for the acoustic axis (a line perpendicular
to the face of the piston and passing through its center) and at suf- The classical absorption theory has been verified to be in good
ficiently large distances from the piston, in the far field (Fig. 7a). In agreement with results for viscous liquids; therefore, it is expected
the near field, strong interference effects are present and the pres- to hold for oils. For the mineral oil used in these experiments,
sure amplitude fluctuates between zero and 2q0 cU 0 . In the far field, assumed at 20 °C, and a 2.25 MHz wave, the result obtained for
the acoustic beam diverges and this behavior is quantified by a half the absorption coefficient is a = 20.6 dB/m. Calculations were
angle spread between 6 dB points, a/2 (Fig. 7b) The border repeated for a 1 MHz wave and the result a = 4.06 dB/m is consis-
between the near and far fields is denoted as N. Therefore, the tent with experimental value for light oil samples presented in
acoustic field generated by circular pistons results in a wave that [44], a = 4.33 dB/m.
is definitely non-planar, especially in the near field.
For the Olympus-Panametrics Videoscan, ½00 diameter, 2.25 MHz 3.2.2. Acoustic dissipation by gas structures
transducers in mineral oil, calculations yielded N = 63 mm and As a beam of sound enters a liquid containing gas bubbles, it can
a/2 = 1.5°. These calculations also showed that for both the 1-in. be attenuated by interfacial phenomena such as reflection, refrac-
and 2-in. pipes the multiphase flows is entirely located in the near tion, absorption, and scattering. When subjected to a sound wave, a
field. In view of the practical difficulties to construct an experimen- bubble can be driven into radial oscillations, which, depending on
tal ultrasonic apparatus to place the multiphase flow in the far field, their amplitude, can reradiate a significant amount of energy out of
preliminary experiments were carried out to verify this effect on the the sound beam [14]. This energy is radiated uniformly in all direc-
measured attenuation. The experimental data showed no measur- tions. In addition, temperature gradients near the interface can
able differences; hence, for ease of construction the ultrasonic cause significant energy losses (absorption). Modeling of these pro-
assembly was constructed as shown in Fig. 3. cesses assume the bubble radius to be much smaller than the
On the other hand, analysis of the acoustic phenomena becomes acoustical wavelength, i.e. the bubbles are assumed to be lumped
more difficult as expressions for acoustic parameters are given for acoustic elements. The bubbles oscillations are most intense at res-
the far field. The discussion to follow is based on plane or near onance, at which point their frequency is given by [14]:

Fig. 7. Acoustic field generated by a plane circular cylinder: (a) axial response; (b) half angle spread [43].
M.M.F. Figueiredo et al. / Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science 70 (2016) 29–50 37

1 3cP b calculations of the absorption coefficient in the liquid-gas medium;
x0 ¼ ð3Þ calculations were then made based on the model by Jones et al. [25]
a q0
and the result is intended only as a rough guide for reasoning. For
For air bubbles in mineral oil at 20 °C and atmospheric pressure, GVF = 2.5% (Fig. 5a) the estimated bubble equivalent diameter is
this leads to k0 a ¼ ð1=cÞ 3cPb =q0 ¼ 0:0153, which shows the d = 1.3 mm; the estimated value for the spatial absorption coeffi-
radius of resonant bubbles under these conditions to be much cient for the bubble swarm in mineral oil at 20 °C is a = 20.3 dB/m.
smaller than the acoustical wavelength. For the 2.25 MHz wave For larger gas structures, such as Taylor bubbles and the gas
used in the present investigation, the bubble radius for resonance core of annular flows, reflections of the sound beam at the oil–air
is 1.6 lm. From the discussion of the visual data above, there interfaces are expected to be the main acoustic dissipation mech-
was no indication of the presence of microbubbles. Discrete bub- anism. Even though the measurements in the present investigation
bles were in the millimeter range and the assumption of lumped did not involve plane waves and the interfaces are not flat, equa-
acoustic elements no longer holds. tions for normal incidence of harmonic plane waves on flat inter-
When the scattering object is large compared with the wave- faces provide clues to understanding the behavior exhibited by
length of the scattered sound, the sound is said to be reflected the ultrasonic data. Under these simplifying assumptions, the
and diffracted rather than scattered. Behind the object, there is a intensity reflection and transmission coefficients are given, respec-
shadow where the pressure amplitude is vanishingly small; in tively, by:
front or to the sides, in the ‘‘illuminated region”, there is a combi-  2  2
nation of the incident wave and the wave reflected from the sur- 1  r1 =r 2 r2 =r 1  1
RI ¼ ¼ ð6Þ
face of the scattering object [16]. There are substantially less 1 þ r1 =r 2 r2 =r 1 þ 1
studies to determine the interaction of bubbles with acoustic
waves having wavelengths less than or of the same order of mag- r 1 =r2 r 2 =r 1
nitude as the bubble diameter. Nishi [45] obtained an analytical TI ¼ 4 ¼4 ð7Þ
ð1 þ r 1 =r2 Þ2 ðr 2 =r1 þ 1Þ2
solution, valid for all wavelengths, for a spherical bubble in a vis-
cous liquid subjected to a plane acoustic wave. From this work, it In these equations, the subscripts 1 and 2 refer to the media
is possible to obtain the total scattering area (or total extinction making up the interface. Table 4 shows values of the acoustic
area) of a bubble, which is defined as the total energy removed reflection and transmission coefficients at the interfaces of interest
from a wave by radiation and absorption divided by the intensity in this study. In view of the fairly high value of the transmission
of the incident wave. The resultant expression is, coefficient at oil–acrylic interfaces (T = 0.777), a significant portion
of the acoustic energy of the pulses emitted by the 0° sensor is
4p X
1 2
jl ðkaÞ expected to enter the multiphase flow. Oil–air interfaces are seen
SðkaÞ ¼ 2
ð2l þ 1Þ 2 ð4Þ
k l¼0 jl ðkaÞ þ n2l ðkaÞ to have a reflection coefficient very close to unity and are thus cap-
able of very strong reflections of the acoustic beam.
where k is the wave number of the ultrasound surrounding the In view of the dissipation mechanisms discussed above, Fig. 8
bubble. depicts four distinct situations of great importance in the present
When the frequency of the sound wave is somewhat higher investigation, namely, (a) when the cross-section is sparsely popu-
than the resonance value, the extinction cross section approaches lated with small bubbles; (b) when the cross-section is densely
4pa2 (the surface area of the sphere). For frequencies much higher populated with discrete bubbles; (c) when a large gas structure
than the resonant frequency, the radiation is no longer spherically is present such as cap or incipient Taylor bubbles; and (d) when
symmetric and the total extinction cross section and the bubble the gas core of annular flows takes most of the pipe cross section
geometric cross section become nearly equal [14]. Hence, even in leaving only a thin liquid film around it. From the discussion above,
the case of high frequency ultrasound, the total scattering area var- it is suggested that when the cross-section is populated with only
ies significantly with bubble size and the intensity scattered by a dispersed bubbles (Fig. 8a) there is very little acoustic energy scat-
given bubble population will be very dependent on the bubble size tered to the sides. The energy is not uniformly scattered as even
distribution. Jones et al. [25] presented a model for the interaction small bubbles are much larger than the size required for reso-
of an ultrasonic wave with a bubbly mixture. The resultant equa- nance; there would thus be a tendency for a more intense scattered
tion is, acoustic field toward the emitter transducer despite the random-
  ness of the bubbles motion. As the acoustic field is ‘‘pierced” by
T ¼ exp  x ¼ exp½2ax ð5aÞ only very few small bubbles, a substantial amount of the acoustic
energy is transmitted through the continuous phase to the oppo-
a¼ ð5bÞ site side of pipe wall. A reflection then takes place at the acrylic–
16 A
oil interface and the reflected wave travels back to the emitter.
where T is the amplitude of the transmitted signal normalized by When the cross-section gets more densely populated with rela-
the amplitude of the transmitted signal in the absence of bubbles tively larger bubbles as in bubbly flow (Fig. 8b), the energy scat-
(single-phase flow) and A is the geometrically projected cross sec- tered to the sides increases and the scattered acoustic field as a
tional area of the bubble. whole is less affected by the randomness of the bubbles motion.
Several assumptions restrict the applicability of this model, Hence, its non-uniformity could be more easily measured around
namely, (i) the bubbles are isolated scatterers, i.e. there is no acous-
tical interaction between them, (ii) the bubbles are spherical, and
(iii) forward scattering (contribution of the scattered energy to Table 4
Values of the reflection and transmission coefficients for plane waves impinging on
the total transmitted signal) is negligible. The authors estimate flat interfaces of interest in this study.
the applicability of their model to be restricted to bubbly flows with
void fractions less than ten percent. Varadan et al. [46] presented a Interface RI TI

model for the acoustic dissipation in a bubble swarm that accounts Oil–Acrylic 0.223 0.777
for multiple interactions between the scatterers; comparison with Oil–Air 0.999 0.001
Oil–Glass 0.645 0.355
experimental data for bubbles in water showed excellent agree-
Oil–Water 0.014 0.986
ment. However, the model does not lend itself to ready
38 M.M.F. Figueiredo et al. / Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science 70 (2016) 29–50

Fig. 8. Schematic representations of the sound field: (a) dispersed bubbles; (b) bubbly flow; (c) cap bubbles and incipient Taylor bubbles; and (d) annular flow.

the pipe circumference. Blockage of the acoustic beam increases [48] and Allegra and Hawley [49], and is termed the ‘‘ECAH the-
and the amount of energy transmitted through the continuous ory”. This theory takes into account the four most important mech-
phase decreases accordingly; and so does the amount of energy anisms (viscous, thermal, scattering, and intrinsic) for acoustic
carried by the wave reflected off the opposite oil–acrylic interface. dissipation in a monodisperse system of spherical particles and is
A distinct picture would represent the acoustic dissipation valid only for dilute systems. The term ‘‘dilute” means there is no
mechanisms when there are significantly larger coalesced gas consideration of particle–particle acoustic interaction. Particles
structures in the pipe cross-section (Fig. 8c) such as cap bubbles oscillating under the sound wave give rise to viscous and thermal
or incipient Taylor bubbles. The acoustic field is now made mostly boundary layers, which damp in the particle vicinity; there is no
by reflections of the ultrasonic beam that bounces back and forth particle interaction when the corresponding boundary layers are
between the oil–air and the oil–acrylic interface along the pipe cir- sufficiently separated.
cumference. Upon each reflection at the latter interface, a substan- Kytömaa [50] further developed this theory for application
tial amount of energy is lost to the pipe wall. Again, the acoustic specifically to suspensions of solids in liquids. This author identi-
intensity is not uniform along the pipe circumference, being higher fies three different regimes of sound propagation in suspensions
in the regions closer to the emitter transducer. The portion of the depending on the dominant length scale involved in the process.
acoustic energy that is directly transmitted through the continuous The multiple-scattering regime (short wavelength regime) occurs
phase decreases as the coalesced gas structures get bigger. Addi- for ka >> 1 (k is the wave number and a is the particle radius),
tionally, dispersed small bubbles also contribute to scatter this which means that the particles are large compared to the wave-
energy. The portion to the acoustic beam reflected straight back length and sound scatters uniformly in all directions. On the other
off the oil–air interface of the larger gas structure increases, thus hand, when the particles are much smaller than the wavelength
conveying very signification information about the development (ka << 1), the particle moves under the action of the acoustic wave
of the flow patterns. and the length scale is the thickness of the boundary layer sur-
Finally, the dissipation mechanisms for the annular flow pattern rounding the particle, d ¼ 2g=ql x.
could be understood as a further development of the mechanisms This boundary layer thickness, often called the Stokes layer
pictured above. As shown in Fig. 8d, the liquid film on the wall is thickness, in turn leads to a Reynolds number defined as
much thinner than in the previous case and the ultrasonic beam Re ¼ a=d. When Re << 1, the boundary layer is thick compared to
now has to bounce back and forth many more times as it pro- the particle radius and the viscous relaxation time is shorter than
gresses forward. Consequently, it dies off much faster. The thinner the period of excitation. This particular situation is referred to as
the liquid film, the less energy gets to the rear portions of the pipe the viscous regime in which the drag is well represented by the
wall. The portion to the acoustic beam reflected straight back off Stokes law. When Re >> 1, the particle radius is much larger than
the oil–air interface of the gas core would be even larger than in the boundary layer thickness and the fluid outside it is governed
the previous case. by inviscid inertial effects (the inertial regime). The dominant loss
These schematic views of the acoustic dissipation mechanisms term is the in-phase component of the Basset force. Additional
are consistent with the trends in the ultrasonic data for the various effects such as unsteady thermal conduction through a thermal
sensors discussed in Sections 3.4 and 3.5. boundary layer surrounding the particle and resonant behavior
are small in liquid–solid systems and can be neglected.
3.2.3. Acoustic dissipation by solid particles In the long wavelength limit (ka << 1 and multiple scattering
As discussed in [47], the most well-known acoustic theory for effects not present), traveling wave solutions were sought in the
heterogeneous systems was developed by Epstein and Carhart form q ¼ q0 exp½jðxt þ kxÞ. In this equation, k ¼ x=c þ ja is the
M.M.F. Figueiredo et al. / Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science 70 (2016) 29–50 39

complex wave number and a is the spatial attenuation coefficient. Table 6

A rather lengthy procedure to obtain k and a was then obtained. Contributions of the individual absorption mechanisms to the overall dissipation of a
2.25 MHz acoustic wave in the multiphase flows at 20 °C.
Atkinson and Kytömaa [1] further developed this model for the
particular case when viscous interaction between the solid parti- Loss type as (dB/m) ascattering (dB/m) %
cles are absent, i.e. when the wave frequency is high enough to Mineral oil intrinsic dissipation [14] 20.6 – 42.1
make the boundary layer so thin that the inertial regime prevails. Air bubbles in mineral oil [25] 20.3 41.5
This condition occurs for: Glass beads in mineral oil [1] 6.64 13.6
Polyamide particles in mineral oil [1] 0.14 0.3
2 3
Water droplets in mineral oil [2] 1.23 2.5
4g 6 ðm=mmax Þ 7
x 4  5 ð8Þ Total 100.0
a2 ql 1 2
1  ðm=mmax Þ3

The maximum particle packing fraction is mmax  0:635  0:005 The acoustic dissipation by the polyamide particles was also
for a random close-packed structure of monodisperse spheres and calculated using the model by Atkinson and Kytömaaa [1]. The
mmax  0:555 for random loose packing [51] For the conditions average particle size adopted was 200 lm based on information
associated with large x, the spatial absorption coefficient, a, can provided by the manufacturer. Results for the absorption coeffi-
be approximated by: cients of both the glass beads and the polyamide particles can be
seen in Table 6.
F ðk Þ
aðxÞ ¼ F ðkÞ  qffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi ð9Þ
2 Rðk Þ 3.2.4. Acoustic dissipation by water droplets
Even though the dilute system assumption in the ECAH theory
restricts its general applicability to volume fractions of a few per-
2 x2 A2 q þ x2 ½B þ ð1  mÞq ½Bq þ qs ql ð1  mÞ
Rðk Þ ¼ ð10Þ cent, there is some evidence that, in very specific situations, it does
j A2 þ x2 ½B þ ð1  mÞq 2 provide a correct interpretation of experimental data for volume
fractions as large as 30% [47]. The validity of the ECAH theory for
2 x2 Axð1  mÞðqs ql  q q Þ moderately concentrated system has only been demonstrated in
F ðk Þ ¼ ð11Þ
j A2 þ x2 ½B þ ð1  mÞq 2 systems where the thermal losses were dominant such as emul-
sions. Herrmann et al. [52] presented an experimental study of
In the equations above, R and F represent the real and imagi- sound attenuation in quasi-monodisperse emulsions of two differ-
nary parts, respectively, of a complex number. For the expressions ent oils in water. The oils used were n-hexadecane and polysilox-
of parameters A and B as well as the suspension properties j , q
, ane and their concentrations were up to approximately 60% by
and q , the reader is referred to Atkinson and Kytömaa [1]. Theo- volume; many emulsion samples were prepared with particle size
retical results were compared to experimental data for a wide covering a wide range from 20 to 900 nm. The transducers used
range of ka. As ka increases from small values to unity, geometric spanned the 0.5–10 MHz frequency range. The authors verified
and multiple scattering effects, which were unaccounted for in that existing theories for sound attenuation in heterogeneous
the model, caused the attenuation to be up to one order of magni- media exhibited excellent agreement with the experimental data
tude greater than the theoretical predictions. for concentrations up to 15%.
Table 5 below shows the particle size distribution in the present One of the theories Herrmann et al. [52] used to compare their
investigation and the corresponding acoustic and hydrodynamic experimental data with is the model due to Isakovich [2]. This
parameters; in all cases d = 2.7 lm. Approximately 92.5% of the author proposed a simple formulation of the thermal-elastic effect
particles are in the 212–590 lm range with 1.1 < ka < 2.9, d a, in the cases where other losses can be neglected. In the case of
and 39 < Re < 110. These results for ka do not correspond to the spherical particles, Isakovich [2] obtained the following expres-
multiple scattering regime for which ka  1 while the results for sions for the acoustic wave vector:
2 1 2
Re and the ratio x= a42lq ðm=mmax Þ3 1  ðm=mmax Þ3  1 show "  2 #1=2
3mq0 c2
x b1 b2
the acoustic dissipation to be in the inertial regime. A weighted KðxÞ ¼ 1þj 2 T0  A ð12Þ
c a x q1 cp1 q2 cp2
average spatial attenuation coefficient of approximately 4 dB/m
was obtained for this suspension according to the model by Atkin-
son and Kytömaa [1]. Even though values of ka are greater than k1 k2 ½ð1  jÞn2 a þ 1fð1  jÞn1 a  tanh½ð1  jÞn1 ag

unity in the present case, the solids concentration is very small k1 fð1  jÞn1 a  tanh½ð1  jÞn1 ag þ k2 tanh½ð1  jÞn1 a½ð1  jÞn2 a þ 1
so that multiple scattering effects should not be very intense. ð13Þ
Therefore, for purposes of general reasoning the model can be
expected to give a satisfactory estimate of the attenuation of the
ni ¼ xqi cpi =ki ð14Þ
sound wave by the glass beads.
In these equations, T 0 and q0 refer to the equilibrium values of
Table 5
the temperature and density, respectively, m is particles fraction by
Particle size distribution and corresponding acoustic and hydrodynamic parameters volume, and the indices 1 and 2 pertain, respectively, to the parti-
for 1% w/w suspension of glass beads in mineral oil. cle and the fluid matrix. The model by Isakovich [2] emphasizes the
Size range % wt. ka Re " x # ( 104) aðxÞ
role played by the quantity ni a, which is the product of the thermal
(lm) 4g
ðm=mmax Þ3 (dB/m) wave vector in medium i by the particle radius. Physically, this pro-
a2 ql 1 2
ð1ðm=mmax Þ3 Þ duct expresses the ratio of the particle radius to the extent attained
590–595 0.6 2.9–3.0
110 4.8–4.9
2.40 by the thermal wave. The propagation of the acoustic wave is con-
425–590 54.3 2.1–2.9 79–110 2.5–4.8 3.33–2.40 trolled by an attenuation coefficient, a, given by corresponding to
212–425 38.2 1.1–2.1 39–79 0.62–2.5 6.64–3.33 the imaginary part of the wave vector K. Herrmann et al. [52]
150–212 6.0 0.7–2.1 28–39 0.31–0.62 9.34–6.64
observed deviations between the experimental data for 10% v/v
<150 0.9 <0.7 <28 <0.31 >9.34
emulsions of n-hexadecane in water at high frequencies probably
40 M.M.F. Figueiredo et al. / Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science 70 (2016) 29–50

due to small viscous–inertial effects. These effects, not accounted the remainder of this paper, the work developed to accomplish this
for in the model by Isakovich [2], arise from the non-negligible dif- goal is described in detail.
ference in the densities of water and n-hexadecane (997.0 and
773.0 kg/m3, respectively). 3.2.6. Selection of the number and position of ultrasonic transducers
The result for the absorption coefficient from the Isakovich From the results in Table 6 and in Fig. 8, the acoustic dissipation
model [2] for 10% v/v water in mineral oil and 100 lm particle in the multiphase flows can be expected to be dominated by the
diameter is shown in Table 6. gas phase and the intensity of the acoustic field along the pipe cir-
cumference to be non-uniform. In view of these results, it was rea-
3.2.5. Comparison of the theoretical predictions for the acoustic soned that four ultrasonic transducers were enough for properly
dissipation mechanisms in oil-continuous multiphase flows probing the resultant acoustic field in the multiphase flows. In
Table 6 shows a breakdown of the overall dissipation mecha- addition, the use of four transducers is compatible with the original
nisms for a 2.25 MHz acoustic wave in a bubbly multiphase flow goal of using the ultrasonic technique for real-time measurements
similar to that in Fig. 5a. Also shown in the table are the references of multiphase flows in the oil industry.
from which the models were taken for calculations of the acoustic Only one emitter was deemed necessary and located at 0° as
absorption coefficients. First of all, the intrinsic dissipation in the shown in Fig. 3. One opposite receiver at 180° was intended to
mineral oil as a continuous phase and scattering by the air bubbles measure mainly the attenuation of the acoustic field that traverse
are seen to be most important contributing factors; the latter is the multiphase flow. Forward scattering, if significant at all, should
fairly high even though the GVF is only 2.5%. The contribution of also be picked up by this transducer. A dual element (emitter–
the glass beads is also important, its absorption coefficient being receiver) transducer was selected for the 0° location to measure
over half of the previous ones. Acoustic dissipation by water dro- the attenuation of the reflected wave at the opposite oil–acrylic
plets is fairly small as the water concentration is still in the dilute interface as it propagates backwards in the multiphase flow. Addi-
range. Even if small viscous–inertial effects arising from the differ- tionally, this transducer should capture the backward reflections
ence in densities between the mineral oil and water (810.0 and off large gas structures. A minimum of two receivers was judged
998.2 kg/m3, respectively) were present, the absorption coefficient necessary to capture the non-uniformity of the scattered (diffuse)
would still be very small. Finally, dissipation by the polyamide is field; they were positioned at the center points of the first and
negligible as only trace amounts of these particles were added to second quadrants at 45° and 135°, respectively.
the flow. Finally, the flow was assumed to be radially symmetric from a
Assuming that for the small concentrations involved the dissi- statistical point of view so that only half of the pipe circumference
pations mechanisms are additive, it can be concluded that the vari- was instrumented. Preliminary experiments were run to ensure
ations in the GVF will have a very significant effect on the overall this set-up would allow for representative samples of the flow to
multiphase flow acoustic dissipation. Moreover, as the GVF be taken. This was checked by increasing the sampling time and
increases, the contribution of the gas phase will become even lar- observing the statistical scatter in the acoustic attenuation data
ger while the intrinsic dissipation in the mineral oil and by the as a function of GVF for a fixed flow condition. The minimum sam-
remaining dispersed phases will remain about the same. Changes pling time corresponded to the condition when no significant
in these values will now be due mostly to changes in the acoustic decrease in the scatter was observed for further increases in the
path as the gas phase occupies increasing fractions of the pipe sampling time. As related previously, in the present investigation
cross section (Fig. 8). a 7.5-s sampling time was used, which allowed for representative
From these results, it is expected that acoustic attenuation data ultrasonic samples of the various multiphase flows to be taken.
for the multiphase flows in Table 2 can provide accurate measure-
ments of the GVF and reliable indications of the flow pattern. For 3.3. Analysis of the ultrasonic signals
small GVF values (bubbly flows and incipient intermittent flows),
differences in the overall acoustic attenuation for the different flow The acoustic trace signals captured by the ultrasonic apparatus
types in Table 2 are expected, mainly due to the presence or are made up of longitudinal and shear waves and base noise; how-
absence of the glass beads. The artificial neural networks to be ever, not all waves carry meaningful information about the multi-
developed for flow pattern recognition and GVF determination in phase flow. Table 7 shows simplified calculations of the transit
multiphase flows should be able to handle these differences. In times for the corresponding expected acoustic paths in the 2-in.

Table 7
Acoustic paths and transit times for the waves in the 2-in. pipe and mineral oil as the continuous phase.

Acustic Acoustic Length of acoustic Transit time Total Transit Ultrasonic Remarks
Wave path path (mm) (ls) Time (ls) Transducer
Acrylic Oil Acrylic Oil
LW1 A-B-H-B-A 56.0 0.0 108.0 20.5 75.9 96.5 0° Longitudinal wave generated in A that goes
through the two-phase flow
A-B-?-B-A 56.0 0.0
20.5 < t < 96.5 0°
A-B-?-D-C 50.0 1.0
20.5 < t < 96.5 45°
A-B-?-F-E 50.0 0.0
20.5 < t < 96.5 135°
A-B-H-G 50.0 0.0 54.0 18.3 38.0 56.3 180°
LW2 A-B-A 56.0 0.0 0.0 20.5 0.0 20.5 0° Longitudinal wave generated in A that travels
through the acrylic only
SW1 A-B-H-B-A 28.0 28.0 108.0 29.8 75.9 105.8 0° Shear wave generated in B that travels through
the acrylic only
SW2 A-B-H-G 28.0 22.0 54.0 25.6 38.0 63.6 180° Shear wave generated in H from LW1; it travels
through the acrylic only
M.M.F. Figueiredo et al. / Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science 70 (2016) 29–50 41

pipe; points A through H were shown in Fig. 3. The longitudinal However, for the 0° sensor the random reflections at interfaces
and shear wave velocities in the acrylic used in these calculations in the multiphase flow also have to be taken into account. Even
were 2730 and 1430 m/s, respectively [43]. The velocity of the lon- though it is not possible to set up any precise time for the reflec-
gitudinal wave in the mineral oil was 1422 m/s as measured by tions to happen, they can only happen when the wave is traversing
Gonçalves [34]. the flow. This occurs during the wave ‘‘round trip” from the first
Acoustic path A-B-H-G is associated with the longitudinal wave acrylic–oil interface (point B in Fig. 3) to the opposite acrylic–oil
LW1 that is transmitted from the emitter transducer at 0° to the interface (point H) and back to point B; this corresponds to the
receiver directly opposite at 180° (Fig. 9). It can be observed that 20.5–96.5 ls time interval associated with general path A-B-?-B-
the 56.5-ls calculated transit time agrees closely with the instant A in Table 7. Accordingly, the time window in Fig. 10 was extended
this wave starts arriving at this sensor. It has been previously ver- to encompass these possible random reflections as depicted by the
ified [32] that the pulse duration (the time interval between the red rectangle. Ahead of this rectangle, one can see an electronic
moment the wave first hits the receiver and the moment it dies markup of the emitted pulse (t = 0 ls) and LW2, the portion of
out) remains essentially constant despite increases in the GVF, the longitudinal wave generated in A that is reflected back to A
which helps establish clear bounds for the reception of the differ- upon hitting point B. As LW2 never traverses the flow, it was
ent waves. excluded from the time window for data reduction.
Upon reaching point H, LW1 gives rise to shear wave SW2 that Acoustic paths A-B-?-D-C and A-B-?-F-E generally represent
hits the 180° sensor shortly after LW1 itself. Therefore, both LW1 paths for the portions of the longitudinal wave LW1 that were scat-
and SW2 are affected by and carry information about the multi- tered to the side transducers by inhomogeneities in the flow.
phase flow; the red rectangle in Fig. 9 indicates the corresponding Again, no specific paths or transit times can be associated with
time window for reduction of data acquired by this sensor. Outside these events as the inhomogeneities are randomly distributed over
this window there is only base noise and the corresponding data the pipe cross section. The corresponding time windows for the 45°
was discarded. and 135° sensors thus are the one shown in Fig. 10 for the random
Acoustic path A-B-H-B-A is taken by the portion of the longitu- reflections.
dinal wave LW1 that is reflected at the oil–acrylic interface at H The appropriateness of these time window was verified by the
and transmitted back to the emitter at 0° (Fig. 10). Once again, experimental observation of which regions of the entire acquisition
the 96.5-ls transit time calculated in Table 7 agrees closely with window were sensitive to GVF variations. Only minor adjustments
the instant this wave starts arriving at this sensor. Upon getting were necessary in the case of the side sensors as shown in Fig. 11.
back to point B, reflected LW1 gives rise to shear wave SW1 that Multiple reflections in the pipe wall, even if they occur during the
hits the 0° sensor shortly after LW1. Therefore, both LW1 and time windows discussed above, are attenuated very quickly and
SW1 carry meaningful information about the multiphase flow are not expected to significantly affect the results and trends dis-
and should be included in the time window for data reduction. cussed in Sections 3.4 and 3.5.

2 LW1
Signal Amplitude (v)




0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110
Time (µs)

Fig. 9. Time window for reduction of signals acquired by the 180° sensor in the 2-in. pipe (oil–air flow at 2% GVF).

LW2 Random reflections
2 LW1
Signal Amplitude (v)



-2 Markup

0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110
Time ( µ s)

Fig. 10. Time window for reduction of signals acquired by the 0° sensor in the 2-in. pipe (oil–air flow at 2% GVF).
42 M.M.F. Figueiredo et al. / Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science 70 (2016) 29–50

5% Random reflections

Signal Amplitude (10 v)


0.5 33%



0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110
Time (µs)

5% Random reflections
Signal Amplitude (10 v)


0.5 33%



0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110
Time ( µ s)

Fig. 11. Response signals and time windows for the 2-in. pipe for oil–air flows at different GVF values: (a) 45° sensor; (b) 135° sensor.

A similar procedure was followed to establish the time win- and 135° transducers also span the 0–1 range. The energy ratios
dows for the 1-in. pipe. It is noteworthy that the approximate were calculated for all 15,000 individual pulses in each acoustic
100-ls duration of the events in Figs. 9–11 is much shorter than sample and the average then taken for the sample. Furthermore,
the 500-ls time period for pulse generation. Therefore, one can as various samples were taken for each operating condition, it
be sure that the effects of one pulse completely die out before was also possible to calculate the mean average energy ratio for
another pulse is emitted. The time windows so established allowed a given condition. This is the acoustic parameter of interest in ana-
for a reduction in the sizes of raw data files as well as in the com- lyzing the data in the 1-in. and 2-in. pipes, discussed next. For a
puting time to reduce the data. further discussion on the acoustic signals and calculation of the
The energy carried by each acoustic pulse, as received by each energy ratios, the reader is referred to [32].
transducer, was calculated from the waveforms by integrating
the squared signal voltage over the signal duration. The energy
3.4. Results from acoustic data for the 1-in. pipe
ratio for any transducer was defined as the energy carried by an
individual acoustic pulse divided by the energy carried by a refer-
Figs. 12–15 show plots of the mean average energy ratios, or
ence signal, i.e. the maximum energy likely to be received by that
simply energy ratios, as a function of GVF for the various transduc-
same transducer. For the 0° and 180° transducers, the maximum
ers for all types of multiphase flows in the 1-in. pipe. The horizon-
energy was received when the pipe was filled only with the contin-
tal error bars represent the standard deviations of the average GVF
uous phase (single-phase mineral oil); the corresponding energy
measurements using the quick-closing valve device. In this sense,
ratios are then given by the following equation,
they represent the variations in the flow samples trapped in the
R t2 device, one flow sample for each acoustic sample. The vertical error
En; t
ðV multiphase Þ2 dt
¼ R t21 ð15Þ bars are the corresponding standard deviations of the mean aver-
ðV single-phase Þ2 dt age energy ratios and thus represent variations in the acoustic phe-
nomena. The flow patterns indicated in the plots correspond to
By normalizing the energy ratios with the single-phase signal, those discussed in Section 3.1. It can be observed that the scatter
the effect of intrinsic dissipation of the transmitted wave is taken in the GVF is very small for bubbly flow, increases slightly with
out of the data trends. This will help make the procedure devel- the presence of cap bubbles and Taylor bubbles (slug flow), and
oped herein easily applicable to other fluids as the continuous can be very large as the flow progresses into the unstable slug flow
phase; in addition, it will make it easier to train and validate the and churn flow; the scatter then decreases in the annular flow pat-
neural networks to be discussed in Section 4 with data for different tern. This behavior reflects the repeatability in the flow samples in
oils. the quick-closing valve device for each flow pattern.
For the 45° and 135° sensors, there is no energy reflected to the In the 180° sensor (Fig. 12), the GVF is the main parameter con-
sides when the pipe is filled with the continuous phase only. In trolling the acoustic attenuation as the data points for all flow
these cases, the denominator in the equation above was replaced types remain close to each other. It is thought that the near zero
with the condition for maximum side reflection in two-phase transmission value for the oil–air interfaces as opposed to 99%
oil–air flows, which was experimentally verified to occur at and 36% for the oil–water and oil–glass interfaces, respectively,
approximately 28% GVF. In this way, the energy ratios for the 45° could account for this behavior. Reflections and scattering of the
M.M.F. Figueiredo et al. / Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science 70 (2016) 29–50 43

1.0 flow O-A-P
dispersed bubbles O-A-P-S
cap bubbles
slug flow unstable slug churn flow annular flow
Energy Ratio
0.6 flow






0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
GVF (%)

Fig. 12. Energy ratios at the 180° sensor for multiphase flows in the 100 ID pipe.

1.0 O-A-P

Energy Ratio



dispersed bubbles
0.3 +

cap bubbles

0.1 bubbly slug flow unstable slug churn flow annular flow
flow flow
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
GVF (%)

Fig. 13. Energy ratios at the 0° sensor for multiphase flows in the 100 ID pipe.

ultrasonic beam of the ultrasonic beam by the air bubbles would systematically different values of the energy ratios for different
then be the dominant acoustic dissipation mechanisms. The flow types for the same GVF –, especially for GVF < 50%. This indi-
greater dispersion in the data for GVF < 15% would be due to the cates an effect of the suspended particles and water droplets on
smaller bubble population, which lessens the importance of reflec- signal attenuation. For this sensor, the acoustic path can be twice
tions at the oil–air interfaces and thus allows the water and solid as long as that for the 180°, thus enhancing the action of these dis-
dispersed phases to play a more prominent role in the acoustic dis- persed phases. In very general terms, it can also be stated that the
sipation process. smaller the GVF the larger the data stratification according to the
The energy ratios at the 0°, 45°, 135° sensors (Figs. 13–15, flow type (number of phases). For bubbly flow up to the slug flow
respectively) increased significantly over the GVF range tested. At regime, this stratification is more noticeable and decreases for the
the 0° sensor this increases is mainly due to acoustic backward remaining flow patterns.
reflections off the bubbles interface whereas for the 45° and 135° In connection with the energy ratios error bars, it was previ-
sensors scattering of the acoustic beam accounts for the increase ously verified that the errors introduced by the ultrasonic sensors
in the energy ratios. Therefore, increasing the gas phase concentra- and associated electronics – measuring system errors [53] – were
tion increases the energy ratio in all these sensors. Conversely, for not significant at all. In addition, as the ultrasound is non-
the 180° transducer the energy ratios decreased exponentially with intrusive and the pulses are low energy, system-sensor interaction
GVF as scattering and backward reflections of the acoustic beam errors and system disturbance errors are also negligible. The vari-
continually decrease the amount of energy that hits this sensor. ations in the energy ratios are believed to be caused mostly by
It is noteworthy the data stratification at the 0° sensor – i.e. stochastic variations in the multiphase flows themselves. They
44 M.M.F. Figueiredo et al. / Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science 70 (2016) 29–50





Energy Ratio 0.7



bubbly slug flow unstable slug churn flow annular flow
0.3 flow flow

0.2 O-A
dispersed bubbles
0.1 + O-A-P-S
cap bubbles O-A-P-S-W
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
GVF (%)

Fig. 14. Energy ratios at the 45° sensor for multiphase flows in the 100 ID pipe.

1.0 O-A-P-S

Energy Ratio




slug flow unstable slug churn annular
0.3 bubbly
flow flow flow
0.2 dispersed bubbles

0.1 +

cap bubbles
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
GVF (%)

Fig. 15. Energy ratios at the 135° sensor for multiphase flows in the 100 ID pipe.

are generally small for the bubbly flow and annular flow. These more homogeneous medium for the acoustic processes to take
flow structures, because they are fairly stable and repetitive, do place, which are thus more repeatable.
not lead to large variations in the intensity of the acoustic reflec-
tion and scattering. On the other hand, intermittent flow struc- 3.5. Results from acoustic data for the 2-in. pipe
tures, like cap bubbles and Taylor bubbles, do cause these
variations, which in turn can lead to very large standard deviations. Figs. 16–19 show the results for the 2-in. pipe. The scatter in the
The present authors believe these data helped establish the GVF are small when there are only dispersed bubbles and cap bub-
potential of the ultrasonic technique to measure the GVF for all bles present and increases with the appearance and growth of Tay-
flow regimes, including those associated with high GVF. It is note- lor bubbles. Once again, this behavior reflect the repeatability of
worthy that the annular flow pattern, which presents difficulties the flow samples trapped in the quick-closing-valve device; when
for measurements with gamma ray techniques as mentioned in larger gas structures are present, repeatability decreases.
the introduction, lends itself to fairly easy measurements with The plots for all types of multiphase flows at the 180° sensor
the ultrasound. As shown schematically in Fig. 8d, this flow pattern (Fig. 16) show that data stratification occurred only for oil–air
has a very repeatable structure and the gas core leads to more flows at GVF < 13%. For this sensor, acoustic energy is received
directional (less random) reflections of the ultrasonic beam. In mostly by direct transmission through the liquid phase; hence,
addition, the liquid film around the gas core also constitutes a for low GVF values there will be little obstruction of the cross-
M.M.F. Figueiredo et al. / Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science 70 (2016) 29–50 45

1.0 O-A-W


Energy Ratio
0.6 slug flow



0.3 dispersed bubbles

cap bubbles
0 10 20 30 40
GVF (%)

Fig. 16. Energy ratios at the 180° sensor for multiphase flows in the 200 ID pipe.





Energy Ratio



dispersed bubbles
slug flow
0.2 +
0.1 cap bubbles O-A-W
0 10 20 30 40
GVF (%)

Fig. 17. Energy ratios at the 0° sensor for multiphase flows in the 200 ID pipe.

section and substantial amounts of acoustic energy will hit the For increasing GVF values, reflection at the liquid–gas interfaces
180° sensor. If the continuous phase contains suspended particles play an increasingly more important role and the resultant acous-
and water droplets, their effect on acoustic dissipation will be tic paths get shorter. Therefore, the effect of the dispersed phases
more significant. As the cross-section becomes increasingly clut- in the oil would be less significant. However, for the slug flow this
tered with the gas phase and less energy hits the 180°, the changes is an intermittent phenomenon as it depends on the passage of
in signal amplitude will be less perceptible. Taylor bubbles. During the passage of liquid slugs, direct transmis-
For the 0° sensor (Fig. 17), data stratification for the oil–air sion through the liquid phase is once again an important mecha-
flows occurred throughout the entire GVF range tested. Beam nism for energy reception and so is effect of the dispersed
reflection at the liquid–gas interfaces are just as important in this phases. One could then expect that data stratification for the slug
case as the acoustic energy that propagates through the liquid flow would remain at an approximately constant level. Had the
phase all the way to the opposite pipe wall and back to this sensor. annular flow pattern been attained for the 2-in. pipe, data stratifi-
For low GVF values, direct transmission prevails and the effect of cation would probably have decreased; in fact, this is the behavior
solid particles and water droplets is similar to that observed for exhibited in Fig. 13 for the 100 pipe.
the 180° sensor. The increased stratification for the 0° sensor could For the 45° and 135° sensors (Figs. 18 and 19), energy reception
be due to the longer acoustic path (twice as long), which enhances is totally dependent on scattering of the acoustic beam by the bub-
the attenuation by the dispersed phases. bles. The acoustic paths in the liquid phase are shorter and the
46 M.M.F. Figueiredo et al. / Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science 70 (2016) 29–50





Energy Ratio 0.7



dispersed bubbles
slug flow
0.2 +
0.1 O-A-W
cap bubbles
0 10 20 30 40
GVF (%)

Fig. 18. Energy ratios at the 45° sensor for multiphase flows in the 200 ID pipe.





Energy Ratio




0.3 dispersed bubbles

slug flow
0.1 O-A-W
cap bubbles
0 10 20 30 40
GVF (%)

Fig. 19. Energy ratios at the 135° sensor for multiphase flows in the 200 ID pipe.

amount of energy received by these sensors is less than that GVF continuously spans the 0–100% range while the flow patterns
received by the other sensors, as experimentally verified. There- are discrete concepts or schematic visualizations of the multiphase
fore, one would not expect significant data stratification for these flow topology. Hence, the GVF and the flow patterns constitute
sensors. very different types of outputs that are not easily handled by one
Finally, the scatter in the energy ratios is generally small, except single ANN. Accordingly, one ANN was developed for flow pattern
for the oil–air flows in the presence of cap bubbles. This is in agree- identification and another one for GVF prediction. Both have the
ment with the fact cap bubbles appeared more randomly and can acoustic energy ratios as input and use the same basic architecture
significant alter the relative importance of the acoustic reflection (Fig. 20). The ANNs developed were of the MLP type as these are
and scattering. In the next section, a check was made on the ability frequently used for pattern recognition tasks. In addition, as cited
of neural networks to take into account the different aspects in the in the introduction, in the comparison by Rosa et al. [40] the RBF
behavior of the multiphase flows discussed above and successfully and PNN types did not exhibit significantly superior performances.
predict the flow pattern and the GVF. In selecting the flow patterns for recognition by the ANNs, a
careful study was conducted on the flow patterns proposed by dif-
ferent authors [42]. These flow patterns were then grouped under a
4. Development and results from the artificial neural networks broader classification according to the patterns normally used in
daily practice in the oil industry. For vertical upward flows, the
In developing the artificial neural network (ANN) for three main categories were dispersed bubbles, intermittent, and
application to multiphase flows, one has to keep in mind that the annular flows; this division also provided satisfactory results in
M.M.F. Figueiredo et al. / Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science 70 (2016) 29–50 47

Fig. 20. The ANN architecture for both flow pattern detection and GVF determination.

flow pattern prediction having the dimensionless groups as input range. How these uncertainty values translate into GVF uncertainty
[42]. In the present investigation, it was preliminarily verified that depends on the uncertainty in other parameters and instruments
better results were achieved when the following categories were that make up the complete multiphase metering procedure. In
used: dispersed bubbles, intermittent flow, churn flow, and annu- the present investigation, the first guideline was that the SSE in
lar flow. The first category regroups dispersed bubbles and cap the ANN results should not exceed, in terms of GVF, the standard
bubbles as discussed in Section 3.1; the second category corre- deviations in the GFV measurements. Moreover, the uncertainty
sponds to slug flow and unstable slug flow; the third and fourth in the ANN results should be compatible with flow pattern assess-
categories are simply churn flow and annular flow as generally ments. For bubbly flow, which represents the most difficult case, it
described in the literature. was reasoned that 1% maximum variation in the GFV was still
The four energy ratios comprise the four ANN inputs, one for within acceptable limits for distinguishing nuances in this flow
each sensor (0°, 45°, 135°, and 180°); the input layer thus has four pattern. Accordingly, the SSE limit was set to 102 for GVF predic-
neurons. Each entry corresponds to the average energy ratio over tion and to 101 for flow pattern identification for the entire 75%
the 7.5-s sampling interval for a given condition. First, the com- training set. The training procedure would then stop when the
plete data set discussed in Sections 3.4 and 3.5 was divided into SSE results were below the limiting values or the number of epochs
two subsets, 75% of the data points for training the ANN and 25% reached the maximum, whichever came first. The maximum num-
for validation, corresponding to 347 and 116 experimental data ber of epochs was set to 103.
points, respectively. Care was taken to make the 25% validation The flow patterns were given numbers for identification by the
set representative of all the operating conditions, diameters, and ANN as shown in Table 8. As discussed by Inoue et al. [42], the
flow patterns tested in this investigation. As the multiphase flow accuracy of the flow pattern detection was observed to vary
acoustic database does not constitute a continuous smooth func- depending on the classification order of the flow patterns. The min-
tion but rather is made of discrete points, the number of hidden imum error was empirically determined to occur when the several
layers should be greater than unity [54]. The number of hidden lay- flow patterns were ordered as they should occur for a fixed liquid
ers was limited to two to keep the ANN feed-forward architecture flow rate and increasing gas flow as shown on the flow pattern
as simple as possible; the number of neurons was empirically map for vertical flows in [37]. A ±0.1 interval was adopted for each
determined by testing several combinations of one to six neurons flow pattern index so that, for instance, the vertical dispersed bub-
in the first hidden layer with one to three neurons in the second bles regime is centered on 1.1 and spans the [1.0,1.2] interval. (The
hidden layer. From the results for the summation of squared errors 0–1.0 interval was reserved for horizontal flows.) By not fixing
(SSE), the best combination was verified to be five and two neurons exact discrete values for each flow pattern, but rather allowing
in the first and second hidden layers, respectively. This result was them to vary over prescribed intervals, the accuracy of the ANN
valid for both ANNs, the one to determine the GVF and the one to predictions increased.
determine the flow pattern. The output layer has just one neuron, Next, to determine the weights and bias, 100 training attempts
as the output variable is either the GVF or the flow pattern. The were made using a routine developed in MatLab. The weights and
logarithmic sigmoid and the purely linear functions were used bias were initialized with random numbers generated by the init
for the hidden and output layers, respectively. (net) command and, for each attempt, the SSE was calculated and
The ANNs were trained using the Bayesian regularization compared with the previous attempt. In case it was smaller, the
Levenberg–Marquardt algorithm; this was considered one the corresponding weights and bias were saved. The weights and bias
most reliable method among those available in MatLabÒ Neural
Network Toolbox because it avoids data over-fitting. Training
was accomplished in relatively short times and, due to the Baye-
Table 8
sian term in the objective function, changes in weights and biases Flow patterns indexes and corresponding ranges.
were more conservative, thus avoiding training data over-fitting.
In connection with the SSE goal attainment criteria, considera- Flow pattern Flow pattern index Flow pattern range

tion was made of the typical uncertainty in mass flow rate mea- Dispersed bubbles 1.1 1.0–1.2
surements using MFM. Falcone et al. [3] summarize uncertainty Intermittent flow 1.3 >1.2–1.4
Churn flow 1.5 >1.4–1.6
ranges indicated by several authors for different scenarios; the
Annular flow 1.7 >1.6–1.8
uncertainty in liquid mass flow rate using MFM is in the 10–20%
48 M.M.F. Figueiredo et al. / Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science 70 (2016) 29–50

values finally saved were those that yielded the smallest SSE value Table 9
among all 100 attempts using the validation data set. The ANN out- Evaluation of ANN results using unseen data points as input.

puts were compared with the GVF values measured by the quick- Flow pattern ANN flow pattern predictions ANN GVF
valves device and with the flow patterns from visual observations predictions
and high-speed filming. % Correct SSE ±Index SSE ±GVF
Figs. 21 and 22 show the ANN results for flow pattern identifi- variation variation
cation and GVF prediction, respectively, using unseen data points Dispersed bubbles 100.0 0.013 0.02 179.4 2.0
as input; also shown are the approximate flow pattern bounds Intermittent flow 97.6 0.068 0.04 496.8 3.6
based on the visual observations. Table 9 summarizes the results Churn flow 100.0 0.029 0.03 944.2 5.7
Annular flow 83.0 0.015 0.05 377.7 7.9
obtained. As can be seen, incorrect flow pattern predictions
occurred for the intermittent flow and annular flow regimes. One Overall result 98.3 0.125 0.03 1998.0 4.2

intermittent flow data point was incorrectly predicted as in the

dispersed bubbles flow pattern. This could be due to difficulties
in visually assessing the flow pattern as cap bubbles grow into Tay- result for the correct flow pattern predictions is evidence of the
lor bubbles, i.e. setting practical limits for the bubbly flow/inter- excellent ANN performance.
mittent flow transition. In addition, the standard deviations in Regarding the GVF prediction, Fig. 22 shows that the predicted
the energy ratios for these two regimes were large in some cases, values agree satisfactorily with the targets. The SSE results and the
which could also have contributed to the incorrect prediction. corresponding GVF variations steadily increased as the flow pat-
Regarding the incorrect predictions of annular flow data points tern progressed from dispersed bubbles to annular flow, which is
as churn flow, one should recall that the uncertainty in the GVF in the reverse order with the number of data points available to
measurements in these cases was rather large as shown in the training and validating the ANN. This could have influenced the
plots in Sections 3.4 and 3.5. The SSE results for the individual flow results. The 102 goal for the SSE and corresponding 1% maximum
patterns are smaller than the 101 goal and are not likely to have GVF variation were not attained, but all the values in Table 9 are
contributed to the incorrect predictions. Anyway, the 98.3% overall still compatible with the 10–20% uncertainty range in liquid mass
flow rate measurements using MFM metering [3].
These results show that the ANNs could successfully handle the
effect of diameter on flow turbulence and bubbles coalescence,
which affected the flow patterns development (Section 3.1), and
Annular flow the effect of flow composition (Sections 3.4 and 3.5), which caused
some stratification in the energy ratios. In other words, the ANNs
1,6 successfully predicted the flow pattern and the GVF even though
the only inputs were the acoustic energy ratios. However, due to
ANN Prediction

Churn flow
lack of data for GVF higher than 35% in the 2-in. pipe, the ability
of the ANNs to handle the effect of diameter could be checked only
up to slug flow. In a new large-scale test rig, ultrasonic data will be
obtained for all flow patterns, including annular flow, in a 2-in.
Intermittent flow
pipe; these new data will be presented in a future paper. In addi-
1,2 tion, the present data are restricted to small concentrations of
solids and water. In the oil industry, solids (sand) concentrations
Dispersed bubbles
are normally very small, but the water cut can increase to very high
values. Therefore, data should be taken in the future to check
whether the ANNs could still provide reliable flow pattern and
1,0 1,2 1,4 1,6 1,8
GVF results without making the water concentration one specific
Observed Flow Pattern input. Anyhow, the feasibility of using a combination of the ultra-
sonic technique and ANNs for flow pattern recognition and GVF
Fig. 21. ANN results for flow pattern identification in the 1-in. and 2-in. pipes.
measurements in multiphase flows has been confirmed by the pre-
sent results.
100 In order to bring this new MFM procedure closer to the field,
Dispersed acoustic data for real fluids in large-scale facilities in the oil indus-
bubbles try will be acquired in the near future. In addition, a combination of
80 the ANNs based on the ultrasonic data with that by Inoue et al. [42]
Intermittent flow
based on the dimensionless groups is currently under way. An
ANN Prediction

extension of the initial database by Inoue et al. [42] is also being

60 worked on so that the ANNs based on the dimensionless groups
can be thoroughly trained and validated.

5. Conclusions
Churn flow Annular flow
In this paper, acoustic attenuation data for vertical, upward oil-
continuous multiphase flows in various flows patterns have been
0 presented and analyzed. The flows were two-phase (oil–air) to
0 20 40 60 80 100 four-phase (oil–water–air–sand) and the patterns ranged from
Measured GVF bubbly to annular flows in the 1-in. pipe and from bubbly to slug
flows in the 2-in. pipe. The ultrasonic instrumentation consisted
Fig. 22. ANN results for GVF prediction in the 1-in. and 2-in. pipes. of four transducers in a simple arrangement intended to be used
M.M.F. Figueiredo et al. / Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science 70 (2016) 29–50 49

in real-time in actual applications of the oil industry. For the 1-in. [16] P.M. Morse, Ingard K.U., Theoretical Acoustics, Princeton University Press,
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[17] H. Murakawa, H. Kikura, M. Aritomi, Application of ultrasonic doppler method
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method for two-phase bubbly and slug flows, Flow Meas. Instr. 19 (2008) 205–
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