‘Dirty gas’ flow loop commissioned at technology centre

Paul Boughton

Corac Group, the gas, air and energy technologies business has extended its popular test facility at its technology centre in Slough, operated by its subsidiary Corac Energy Technologies (CET), with the commissioning of an innovative ‘dirty gas’ flowloop.

CET develops advanced compact compressors and renewable energy generators. Advanced testing allows the company to simulate live gas well conditions for performance and reliability before shipping to the field. This is a significant advance on previous testing that was done with computer simulations using partner-supplied data from the live well, physical testing in air at the Slough facility and in clean methane at the CET test site in Cumbria.

Downhole field testing with partners in their well in the USA exposed the true nature of the gas stream in that location. It carried more solids and fluids than were expected or designed for, and led to engineering changes to the compressors to cope with these conditions.

Field deployment is an expensive activity, both for CET and for the well operator. A producing gas well must be interrupted and a large team of engineers and technicians mobilised to install the device safely and efficiently. The more testing and assurance that can be done above the surface, particularly in representative ‘dirty’ conditions, the greater the confidence of all concerned that the time and expense of deploying in the live well is justified.

A flowloop is a closed system where gas at a controlled temperature, pressure and flow rate enters a compressor to emerge at higher temperature and pressure. These and other parameters are measured so that compressor performance under a range of conditions can be mapped. The closed cycle then reduces the pressure and temperature to return the gas to the compressor inlet and the process continues.

This is one of very few multi-phase flowloops where sand and other solids can also be introduced to extend the range of conditions the compressor is subjected to. It provides CET with independent data to prove its technologies and demonstrate the capability of compressor systems. The facility will be used to support CET’s oil and gas developments across a wide range of locations and conditions.

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