Archimedean Screw Turbine Based Energy Harvester and Acoustic Communication in Well Site Applications
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Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) has become increasingly important in the Oil and Gas industry. Despite the various advantages WSN has compared to the wired counter parts, it also faces some critical challenges in the oil fields; one of them is the power supply. The periodic replacement of batteries for the WSN in the downhole environments has been economically inconvenient and the enormous cost induced by the maintenance has turned people's attention to the energy harvesting technology, hoping for a more sustainable solution. Power supply is only half of the problem. To retrieve the data recorded by the various sensors in the downhole environments, a reliable way of wireless communication is required. A new approach utilizing acoustic communication was proposed. This thesis presents an Archimedean Screw Turbine (AST) based energy harvester that takes advantage of the abundant flow energy in the upper stream section of the oil production cycle, especially in the water injection wells and oil extraction wells, with the goal of providing power supply to Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) and underwater acoustic modems deployed in the various locations in the downhole environments. Parametric study on the number of blades, screw length, screw pitch, and rotational speed was conducted through CFD analysis using Ansys Fluent in order to determine the optimal geometry and operating conditions. The relationship between power generation and AST geometries, such as AST length and AST pitch, were discovered and the optimal rotational speed was revealed to be solely dependent on the screw pitch. Experiments were conducted in the lab environment with various flow rates and various external resistive loads to verify and determine the maximum power generation of the designed harvester. FEA analysis was conducted using the Acoustic and Structural Interaction Module of COMSOL MULTIPHYSICS to determine the attenuation characteristics of acoustic waves propagating in the water-filled pipes buried in soil. Experiments with and without the harvester integrated in the pipe system were conducted in lab environment using a pair of under water acoustic modems to determine the acoustic communication capability. The impact of the integrated harvester on the acoustic communication was tested. Combining energy harvesting technology and underwater acoustic communication together, this system can potentially achieve real-time monitoring and communication in the oil downhole environment.
General Audience Abstract
Oil and Gas industry has been the primary energy source provider for our society for hundreds of years. As this industry evolves with new technologies, it also faces new challenges. One of the main challenges is the power supply problem in the oil field because of the limited lifespan of traditional batteries used in the oil production process. This study present a novel energy harvesting device that can replace the traditional batteries. By taking advantage of the constant fluid flow in various wells at oil field, the device can provide power for electronic devices, including but not limited to wireless sensors, communication modules, at the oil extraction sites, without needing additional power supply. This novel energy harvesting device can also be integrated with communication modules that uses acoustic wave to achieve wireless acoustic communication between underground and the surface. In this study, the harvester design, optimization, tests, and integration with acoustic modems were presented. With the help of such energy harvesting device, Oil and Gas industry will be one step closer to achieving true wireless, and real-time monitoring and communication. This will not only reduce maintenance cost but also greatly improve the production efficiency.
- Masters Theses