Experimental Study of a Hydrocyclonic Oil-Water Separator for Downhole Separation



This paper presents experimental measurement and analysis of a liquid-liquid hydrocyclone separator to separate oil/water emulsion with 90% water cut. Measurements have been carried out at various temperatures and in-flow rates. Samples were taken before and after the separation and analyzed using InfraCal Oil/Grease Analyzer (HATR-T2). The results showed that, the hydrocyclone separator achieves separation efficiencies higher than 80%, in the flow split region between 0.6 – 0.7 for all the temperature cases considered in the experiments. Within inlet velocities range of 2.5 – 4.5 m/s, the hydrocyclone performance seems to plateau with separation efficiency remaining virtually constant for all the flow and temperature cases. The peak efficiencies for the cases at 25 oC, 30 oC, 40 oC, 50 oC and 60 oC temperatures were averagely around 80.9%, 84.1%, 85.9%, 86.5% and 87.5%, respectively. Fluid temperature slightly impacts the hydrocyclone separation performance. Separation efficiency was observed to increase with decreasing pressure drop ratio (PDR) and by reducing PDR from 0.76 to 0.74 resulted in marginal performance enhancement. Finally, increasing temperature increased the flow turbulence and affect the separation efficiency.


Hydrocyclone; Water Cut; Downhole; Separation Efficiency; Flow Split

Full Text:



Al-Kayiem, H. H., Osei, H., Yin, K. Y., Hashim, F. M. (2014), "A comparative study on the hydrodynamics of liquid–liquid hydrocyclonic separation," WIT Transactions on Engineering Sciences, Vol. 82, pp. 361-370.

Bowers, B. E., Brownlee, R. F. and Schrenkel, P. J. (2000), "Development of a Downhole Oil/Water Separation and Reinjection System for Offshore Application," SPE Production and Facilities, Vol. 15, pp. 115–122.

Burrill K. A. and Woods, D. R. (1970), "Separation of Two Immiscible Liquids in a Hydrocyclone," Ind. & Eng. Chemistry Process Design and Dev., Vol. 9, pp. 545-552.

Colman D. A. and Thew, M. T. (1988), "Cyclone Separator," US Patent, USA, 8 pp.

Gomez, C. H. (2001), "Oil-Water Separation in Liquid-Liquid Hydrocyclones (LLHC) Experiment and Modeling " Published MSc. Thesis, Dept. Petroleum Eng., The University of Tulsa, USA, 108 pp.

Gomez, C., Caldentey, J., Wang, S. S., Gomez, L., Mohan, R., and Shoham, O. (2002), "Oil/Water Separation in Liquid/Liquid Hydrocyclones (LLHC): Part 1 – Experimental Investigation," SPE Journal, pp. 353–361.

Hitchon, J. W. (1959), "Cyclones as Liquid-Liquid Contactor-Separators," Atomic Energy Res. Establ. Report AERE CE/R. 2777, UK Atomic Energy, pp. 1-10 pp.

Khan, M. M. (2003), "Down-Hole Oil/Water Separation of Petroleum Fluids," Published M. A. Sc. Thesis, Dept. Chemical Eng., Dalhousie University, 94 pp.

Kharoua, N., Khezzar, L. and Nemouchi, Z. (2010), "Hydrocyclones for De-oiling Applications—A review," Petro. Sci. and Tech., Vol. 28, pp. 738-755.

Mahajan S. P. and Pai, V. J. (1977), "Liquid–Liquid Separation Efficiency and Volume Split in Hydrocyclones," Indian Chem. Eng., Vol. 19, pp. 3-9.

Matthews, C. M., Chachula, R., Peachey, B. R. and Solank, S. C. (1996), "Application of Downhole Oil/Water Separation Systems in the Alliance Field," Third Int. Conf. on Health, Safety & Env. Oil & Gas Explo. & Prod., New Orleans, USA, pp. 453 – 462.

Meldrum, N. (1988), "Hydrocyclones: A Solution to Produced-Water Treatment," SPE Prod. and Eng., pp. 669–676.

Ogunsina, O. O. and Wiggins, M. L. (2005), "A Review of Downhole Separation Technology," SPE Production and Operations Symposium,Oklahoma City, OK, USA, pp. 1–8.

Osei, H., Al-Kayiem, H. H. and Hashim, F. M. (2015), "Numerical studies on the separation performance of liquid- liquid Hydrocyclone for higher water-cut wells," IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering, Vol. 100, pp. 1-7.

Schubert, M. F. (1992), "Advancements in Liquid Hydrocyclone Separation Systems," 24th Annual Offshore Tech. Conf., Houston, Texas, USA, pp. 497-506.

Sheng, H. P., Welker, J. R. and Sliepcevich, C. M. (1974), "Liquid-Liquid Separations in a Conventional Hydrocyclone," The Canadian J. of Chem. Eng., Vol. 52, pp. 487-491.

Simkin D. J. and Olney, R. B. (1956), "Phase Separation and Mass Transfer in a Liquid-Liquid Cyclone," AIChE J., Vol. 2, pp. 545-551.

Suárez S. and Abou-Sayed, A. (1999), "Feasibility of Downhole Oil/Water Separation and Reinjection in the GOM," 1999 SPE Asia Pacific Improved Oil Recov. Conf., Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, pp. 1-9.

Thew, M., Wright, C. and Colman, D. (1984), "R.T.D. Characteristics of Hydrocyclones for the Separation of Light Dispersions", 2nd International Conference on Hydrocyclones, Bath, England, paper E1, pp. 163-176.

Veil, J. A., Langhus, B. G. and Belieu, S. (1999), "Downhole Oil/Water Separators: An Emerging Produced Water Disposal Technology," Explo. and Prod. Environ. Conf., Austin, Texas, USA, pp. 1-13.

Young, G. A. B., Wakley, W. D., Taggart, D. L. Andrews, S. L. and Worrell, J. R. (1994), "Oil-water separation using hydrocyclones: An experimental search for optimum dimensions," J of Petroleum Sci. and Eng., Vol. 11, pp. 37-50.


  • There are currently no refbacks.