Known as the Tower Lab, the Petroleum Engineering Department at Texas A&M designed and built this 140-ft tall vertical flow loop to investigate various aspects of two-phase flow.  The loop can use pipes of various sizes (1 to 6-in ID) to investigate flow through a single tube or through an annulus. The ability to capture high-speed video and pressure at various locations creates unique potential for a multi-media database for two phase upward flow. 

tower lab vertical pipes with nearby camera positioned to film experiments flowing past area angled camera view showing ten-story height of tower lab tubes computer harddrive, monitor, keyboard and other electronic set up of sixth-floor control station for tower lab

Recently the Tower Lab was rebuilt for understanding the dynamic interaction of wellbore and formation under loading conditions.

During a 3-year period, research within the Tower Lab collected a considerable amount of experimental data. Dr. Valko and Dr. Hasan addressed one of the identified weaknesses of current models: the lack of connection between critical rate correlations and wellbore hold-up correlations. They made modifications to the Tower Lab main loop in order to observe hold-up both in the section above and below the entry point of the gas-liquid mixture. By direct comparison to hold-up results obtained with bottom entry, they attempted to better understand the partial flow reversal phenomenon needed to fully understand liquid-loading. Their ultimate goal was to improve existing hold-up correlations and to quantify liquid accumulation rate in the well. They planned to use these results to develop a coupled dynamic model of the well/reservoir system. They recently developed the concept of multi-phase zero-flow pressure (MPZFP, P0) that would be utilized in their model to enable the determination of flow direction (well to formation or vice-versa) in the individual connections. Experimental results and new correlations were the main technical deliverables of this project.

The Tower Lab is currently being used for scaled simulations to replicate and confirm the data gleaned from simulations of kicks and gas-bubble migrations in offshore drilling muds performed by the Gulf Research Well at LSU. This is part of a $4.9 million award from the Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to LSU and Texas A&M to investigate riser gas. The verified data will be used to understand the physics behind riser gas behavior. Once this is done, researchers will create computer models in the new High Pressure and High Temperature Fluids Laboratory at LSU to better predict the behavior of riser gas.