Center for the Integrated Modeling and Analysis of Gulf Ecosystems (C-IMAGE):
Experimental investigation and modeling of multiphase flow phenomena under extreme environmental conditions in relation to the deep-sea oil spill 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico.
Dr.-Ing. Simeon Pesch (2nd and 3rd project period: C-IMAGE II and III; GoMRI RFP IV and VI)
Dipl.-Ing. Katrin Laqua (1st project period: C-IMAGE; GoMRI RFP I)
This research is made possible by a grant from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI).
Particularly since the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) accident in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico, where about 800 million liters of oil and huge amounts of natural gas leaked from the wellhead during a period of 87 days, numerous scientists of different research fields are trying to analyze and model the fate of oil and gas after deep-sea oil spills for cleaning measures and for the development of response strategies as well as in order to get a deeper insight into the physical, chemical and biological processes involved. Due to the extreme environmental conditions in the deep sea (4 °C and 15 MPa at the wellhead in the case of the DWH blowout) and the multiphase character of the system the analysis and the modeling of the blowout are challenging.
The main goal of our project group is the experimental investigation of the crude oil dispersion and the further propagation of the oil droplets and gas bubbles under the specific high-pressure conditions. Moreover, oil biodegradation and physical properties of the hydrocarbon mixture under simulated deep-sea conditions are determined experimentally. The data are provided for modeling the fate of the oil masses throughout the ocean, both for the DWH oil spill and for potential future oil-spill scenarios.
Conceptual model sketch depicting the influence of high pressure on phenomena related to deep-sea oil spills
For the experimental investigations under simulated deep-sea conditions several high-pressure facilities have been developed, built and commissioned. Sophisticated measurement technologies such as high-definition camera recording, high-speed Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) and an endoscopic particle size measurement system from the Sopat GmbH are applied.
Overview poster depicting the experimental facilities and methods for deep-sea research at TUHH