Application of computational transport analysis: Oil spill dynamics
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Transport phenomena of one form or another, e.g. fluid dynamics, heat and mass transfer etc. are the fundamental underlying mechanisms that govern many chemical engineering processes. The rational design of practical applications typically requires the solution of complex coupled equations that cannot be solved analytically. Instead, numerical analysis is usually used for design and optimization. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is the method of choice for such analysis. In this thesis we use CFD to analyze complex and large scale transport phenomena that govern the dynamics of an off-shore oil spill. Specifically, we study the spill of oil from a drilling platform that is tethered to the sea floor off-shore from a land mass. We use a state-of-the-art multiphysics CFD program, FLOW3D, to study the spread of oil taking into account key phenomena and factors including water-oil two-phase flow, spill rate, properties of different oil grades and fluid-structure interactions as the platform is rocked under the influence of varying wave conditions. We use parametric CFD analysis to determine the impact of these factors on the spill dynamics. The model used for studying these effects is the Drift Flux Model which analyses the relative flow of two intermixed fluid components, one continuous and the other dispersed, based on a difference in densities. This helps in reducing the total number of field and constitutive equations. Two discrete densities for oil are used, 900kg/m 3 (light fuel oil) and 990kg/m 3 (heavy fuel oil). The computational model extends 3937ft (1200m) in x- direction, 3280ft (1000m) in y- direction, 328ft (100m) in depth in z- direction and the distance between the platform and landmass is 1640ft (500m).