Separator CFD Simulation, Three-Phase Flow, ANSYS Fluent Training

$140.00 Student Discount

In this project, a 3-Phase Horizontal Separator with an Oil Bucket is simulated.

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Geometry, Mesh, and CFD Simulation methodologygy explanation, result analysis and conclusion
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Separator Problem Description

The 3-Phase Horizontal Separator works based on the density differences of fluids. The mixture of fluids inter through the inlet vessel and, after collision with the inlet diverter, enters the tank. In reality, the Separator is equipped with sensors to control oil and water level and then control mass flow.

Therefore, controlling the mass flows is a challenge in the simulation. In this project, the density of air, water, and oil is assumed to be 1.2, 998 & 689 kg/m^3, respectively. Also, the VOF Multiphase model is used.

Geometry & Mesh

The 3D geometry is modeled in Ansys Design Modeler software. A cylindrical zone with a 1m diameter extended for 8 meters with two caps. Also, the mesh grid is carried out using Ansys Meshing software.

Furthermore, an unstructured grid is generated, and in total, 7166267 elements established the fluid domain, which is depicted in the following figure.

3-Phase Horizontal Separator

3-Phase Horizontal Separator

CFD Simulation

Several assumptions have been considered to simulate the horizontal 3-phase separator, including:

  • The simulation is steady.
  • The pressure-based solver type is used due to the incompressibility of the working fluids.
  • Gravitational acceleration effects are applied in the y-direction.

The following table represents a summary of the solution:

Viscous K-epsilon Realizable
Multiphase Type VOF
Formulation Implicit
Primary Phase

Secondary Phase

Secondary Phase




Fluid Definition method Fluent database
Material name Air
Cell zone condition
Material name Mixture-template
Boundary condition
Inlet Type Mass-flow-inlet
Gas-phase 0.005 kg/s
Oil-phase 2 kg/s
Water-phase 3 kg/s










Type Mass-flow-outlet
0.005 kg/s
Type Mass-flow-outlet
2 kg/s
Type Mass-flow-outlet
3 kg/s
Type Wall

(Stationary – No-slip condition)

Solver configuration
Pressure-velocity coupling Scheme Coupled
Spatial Discretization Gradient Least squares cell-based
Pressure PRESTO!
Momentum First-order upwind
Volume Fraction Modified HRIC
Turbulent kinetic energy First-order upwind
Turbulent dissipation rate First-order upwind
Initialization Initialization methods Standard Initialization
Run Calculation
Number of time steps 1000


Separator Results

After the simulation process, the two & three-dimensional contours are extracted. It is evident that high inlet velocity could increase the mixing rate, which is not our interest and aim. So by using an inclined diverter, the velocity decreases and enters the fluid domain.

Due to the density gradient, the dense fluid (water) remains at the bottom of the tank, and the oil on the top reaches the oil bucket level and leaves the tank. The volume fraction contours corroborate the claim.


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