A finite element model for high enthalpy two-phase flow in geothermal wellbores

S. Akbar*, N. Fathianpour, R. Al Khoury

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
44 Downloads (Pure)


This paper introduces a computational model for transient high enthalpy fluid flow through geothermal wellbores. The drift-flux model is utilized to formulate the physical behavior of fluid, and the constitutive relationships are described using relevant equations of state and empirical relationships. The governing equations are solved using the finite element method. All important physical phenomena and processes occurring along the wellbore, including buoyancy, phase change, compressibility, thermal interaction, wall friction and slip between phases are considered. Airlifting of water and air, initially existing in the wellbore before production, is also considered. During airlifting and early stages of production, two fluids exist along the wellbore: airlifted water-dry air fluid, and reservoir water-vapor fluid; giving rise to a discontinuity in thermodynamic properties between the two fluids. The discontinuity is modeled using the level-set method. Two numerical examples illustrating the computational capability and accuracy of the model are presented. The physical phenomena occurring during airlifting and production along the wellbore are highlighted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-236
Number of pages14
JournalRenewable Energy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016


  • Airlift
  • Drift-flux model
  • High enthalpy geothermal systems
  • Level set
  • Wellbore


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