Hydrocarbon flow is turbulent in most petroleum pipeline systems. Turbulent motion results in energy loss due to friction between the flowing fluid and the pipeline wall, as well as friction between the flowing fluid itself. Flowchem drag reducing agents (DRA) reduce turbulence and frictional losses in pipelines to improve throughput and energy efficiencies.

The Mechanics of Drag Reduction

DRA functions on a molecular level to decrease turbulence, thereby reducing the frictional pressure losses in a pipeline. Turboflo® Drag Reduction Agents are long-chain hydrocarbon polymers that reduce friction near the pipeline walls and within the turbulent fluid core. Flowchem DRAs reduce energy loss by dampening rotational flow and fluid turbulence in crude and fuel pipelines.

  • Turbulent Flow

    In turbulent liquid flow, the hydrocarbon molecules move in a random pattern rather than a linear flow, creating drag within the pipeline. Turbulence causes energy loss and reduces throughput of a pipeline.

    The Reynolds number (Nre) is a dimensionless number used to determine the level of turbulence in a pipeline. Once the Reynolds number (Nre) is calculated, the effectiveness of turboflo® and the reduction of the frictional losses can be predicted.

  • Pressure Reduction

    Optimal pipeline operations depends on consistent pumping pressure to deliver flow capacity. Due to aging systems, corrosion, abrasions, and pipeline bottlenecks, lowered Maximum Allowable Operating Pressure (MAOP) can result in reduced throughputs. Utilizing DRA allows pipelines to maintain optimal throughput while operating at the lowered MAOP.

  • Flow Increase

    Turboflo® drag reducing agents align turbulent fluid molecules to create a linear, energy efficient flow. By adding only a few parts per million of turboflo® DRA, drag within a pipeline system can potentially be reduced by as much as 80% and the flow rate can increase up to 100%. Utilizing DRA allows the pipeline to operate at a higher flow rate while maintaining the same pressure.

  • Drag Reduction Performance

    Percent drag reduction compares the differential frictional pressure drop required to move a given fluid in a set pipeline with and without DRA. The graph represents a range of performance curves for turboflo® DRA in various hydrocarbons. DRA injection rate is shown in parts per million (ppm) versus the delivered performance measured in percentage drag reduction (%DR).