Flow Rate Measurement of Oil-Gas-Water Wavy Flow through a Combined Electrical and Ultrasonic Sensor

Xuewei Shi, Chao Tan*, Feng Dong, Javier Escudero

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Water-based dispersed wavy flow, whereby the water with dispersed oil droplets moves along the bottom of the pipe and the gas concurrently on the top, is a frequently encountered horizontal oil-gas-water three-phase flow pattern in petroleum production and transportation. Accurate flow metering of each individual phase is significant to academic research and industrial flow assurance. Therefore, we present a combined electrical and ultrasonic sensor to simultaneously and non-intrusively acquire online flowing information. This information includes: the water fraction estimated by the normalized voltage from a conductance sensor, the gas fraction calculated by locating the gas-liquid interface through a pulse-wave ultrasonic sensor consisting of three transducers, and the coupled velocity of oil droplets and gas-liquid interface from Doppler shift signal acquired by a continuous wave ultrasonic Doppler sensor. Based on the limited flowing information obtained by multimodality sensors, a novel theoretical model is established based on the analysis of the momentum balance between different phases to solve phase fractions and phase actual velocities for calculating phase flow rates. To make the model closed and solvable, the interfacial velocity and oil velocity are respectively extracted by decoupling the Doppler shift signal through amplitude-aware permutation entropy and noise assisted multivariate empirical mode decomposition methods. Finally, the phase flow rates are calculated by the solutions of the established model. Dynamic experiments are performed to verify the effectiveness and accuracy of the proposed method and theoretical model. This study could provide a potential solution for non-intrusive phase flow metering of industrial three phase flow.
Original languageEnglish
Article number131982
Number of pages16
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
Early online date25 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • Oil-gas-water three-phase flow
  • flow rate measurement
  • continuous wave ultrasonic Doppler technique
  • pulse wave ultrasonic sensor
  • conductance sensor
  • phase fraction


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