Modelling and measurement for oil and gas multi-phase flows - SPH-DEM fluid-particle simulation and validation

The exploration and development of deeper wells with heavier and more viscous oils, requiring greater operating pressures and more fracture to fissures to release the oils. This results in significantly increased sand content that has the potential to bring about a fundamental shift in flow behaviour. This project aims to investigate the potential – and develop – a coupled smooth particle hydrodynamics (SPH) and discrete element method (DEM) model to simulate high-pressure multi-phase flows with support from an extensive experimental programme and industrial collaboration.

The project will focus on developing the SPH-DEM fluid-particle approaches and validating the models using the test results from purpose built test facilities at Glasgow Caledonian University and NEL ( The current methods for measuring oil and gas flows are based on “homogenisation” strategies to model the flow to get a measure of the mass/volume flow by a combination of pressure drop, velocity measurements and density distributions. So far, these flows have been modelled using CFD (Eulerian) two-fluid methods to predict optimal locations for the flow instrumentation. However, with deeper oil wells, the oil is much more viscous and discontinuous and this is further complicated with a much greater and non-homogeneous loading of sand. This results in current measurement practices giving larger uncertainties in the measured flow of oil. Flows of this nature are known to be very difficult to model by any technique. This project aims to couple the mesh free SPH approach for the multi-fluids phases and the DEM soft contact approach for the solid phase to tackle this application, and to validate the model against high and low pressure multiphase flow experiments.

Principal Investigator: 


Postgraduate Researchers: 

Research Institutes: 

  • Infrastructure and Environment

Research Themes: 

  • Granular Mechanics and Industrial Infrastructure

Last modified: 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015 - 09:02