The British Flame Research Committee Investigation of the Methane Destruction Efficiency of Flares
Element Digital Engineering were approached by an Oil & Gas operator on behalf of the British Flame Research Committee to conduct Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations on a damaged flare tip. The aim was to carry out transient CFD simulations and determine the destruction efficiency of methane. This was done to inform the Oil & Gas industry about the reality of the destruction efficiency of flares in comparison to the industry-accepted values of 98-99% efficiency.
The challenge of this work was both to run transient CFD simulations of a damaged flare tip with multiple crosswind velocities and to accurately model the physics of combustion. This meant that the model needed to be optimized for capturing the region of the plume as well as capturing the combustion of methane. The crosswind needed to be modeled to interact with the flow of methane accurately as well. Following this, a calculation of all the methane destroyed in the fluid domain had to be carried out to determine the destruction efficiency of the flare tip.
The solution showed that the destruction efficiency assumed by the Oil & Gas industry is far higher than what is actually predicted by CFD (around 18% higher). Parallel work using a different method came to a similar conclusion. This indicated that the Oil & Gas industry is operating with an unrealistic assumption for destruction efficiency which could be leading to greater environmental damage. More research work is needed to ensure the Oil & Gas industry is operating with accurate data regarding the destruction efficiency of their flares.
The result of this work has allowed for more research to take place in this field with validation methods being developed to ensure that CFD can be compared to experimental data. This will allow for better predictive capabilities for Oil & Gas clients who utilize Element Digital Engineering’s CFD studies for their equipment.
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