Dehydration of low-pressure gas using supersonic separation: Experimental investigation and CFD analysis

Pouriya H. Niknam, H. R. Mortaheb*, B. Mokhtarani

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Supersonic nozzles are recently applied for carrying out water separation from natural gas streams and dew pointing in early stages of gas processing. This paper represents an experimentally and numerically study on a novel low-pressure two-phase driven supersonic nozzle constructed based on a new annular design. The nozzle includes a set of tilted fixed blades at the entrance and a swirling stabilizer along with a convergence-divergence nozzle. The liquid phase is separated from the primary gas phase by decompression and compression happening accompanied with the centrifugal effect induced by the swirling of the gas stream. The phase change happens by gradual drops in temperature and pressure upstream of the shockwave position, and an abrupt change at the shockwave position followed by a subsequent gradual increase in temperature and pressure. The pressure, temperature, and moisture level of the gas are measured to investigate the performance of the supersonic separation unit. The computation is carried out by a 2D approach capable of two-phase heat and mass transfer modeling. For the first time, the analysis uses high order of discretization schemes in order to well capture the shockwaves in a low-pressure supersonic nozzle and find out their effects on separation. An assessment is carried out focusing on the effect of operational conditions on the nozzle performance. The experimental data for dehydration efficiencies are in good agreement with the simulation results within 3%. The shockwave position is found in the range of 0.3–0.5 of non-dimensional nozzle length. The positions of both shockwave and initiation of condensation are shifted toward the exit side when the nozzle pressure ratio decreases. Reducing the pressure ratio from 0.8 to 0.6 will enhance the dehydration efficiency by about 5%.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)202-214
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Natural Gas Science and Engineering
Early online date19 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier B.V.


  • CFD simulation
  • Dehydration
  • Multiphase compressible flow
  • Shockwave monitoring
  • Supersonic nozzle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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