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Publication numberUS3891394 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJun 24, 1975
Filing dateApr 10, 1974
Priority dateApr 10, 1974
Publication numberUS 3891394 A, US 3891394A, US-A-3891394, US3891394 A, US3891394A
InventorsOwen Smith, James F Holder
Original AssigneeLove Oil Company Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Crystal generator to inhibit scale formation and corrosion in fluid handling systems
US 3891394 A
Abstract
An improved crystal generator comprising a specially formed pressure differential device in the fluid flow line of a well or other fluid flow system employing a special core which generates particular crystal formation(s) in the pumped fluid. The crystal generator stimulates the formation of "seed" crystals in the pumped fluid, which, as a result of turbulent conditions of the fluid in the flow line, are held in suspension, where they act as sites of deposit for older crystals of scale, thereby removing old formations of scale on well walls and associated equipment surfaces and discouraging formation of new scale deposits.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

1 June 24, 1975 2.982.360 5/1961 Morton............,.............. l66/244C FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 2.544 6/l88l United Kingdom................. 204/197 OTHER PUBLICATIONS Chernozuhov et a1, Oct. 3. 1965. SWD/64 (1 page) Prev. of Scale Form in Dist. Desal Plants by Means of Seeding. ASARCO. Cathodic Protection of Submar. Pipeline. Bull. 191. 1958. 2 pages. Doremus et al.. Pipeline Engineer, Vol. 41. No. II. pp. 36 to 45, Oct. 1969. Riordan, Cathodic Protector Reader ed.. World Oil, June 1956. page 250 and 253.

Primary Examiner-Norman Yudkoff Ass/Mun! Examiner-S. J. Emery Attorney. Agent, or Firm-Warren F. B. Lindsley [57] ABSTRACT An improved crystal generator comprising a specially formed pressure differential device in the fluid flow line of a well or other fluid flow system employing a special core which generates particular crystal formation(s) in the pumped fluid. The crystal generator stimulates the formation of seed United States Patent 1 1 Smith et a1.

[ CRYSTAL GENERATOR TO INHIBIT SCALE FORMATION AND CORROSION IN FLUID HANDLING SYSTEMS 175} Inventors: Owen Smith; James F. Holder. both of Scottsdale. Ariz.

[73] Assignee: Love Oil Company, Inc., Scottsdale.

Ariz.

[22] Filed: Apr. 10. I974 121] Appl. No.: 459,548

[52] U.S. 23/273 R; 23/301 R; 21/27 R;

21/61; 75/156.5; 75/159; 166/244 C; 166/242: 159/DIG. 13; 203/7; 252/387; 252/175; 204/196; 204/197 [51] Int. BOld 9/02; C23f 13/00 [58] Field oi Search.................. 159/DIG. 13; 203/7; 166/244 C. 242. 57. 312; 252/387. 175. 80'. 75/1565. 159; 204/196. 197; 21/27 R. 61; 23/252 A {56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS crystals in the 10 Claims, 4 Drawing Figures pumped fluid. which. as a result of turbulent conditions of the fluid in the flow line, are held in suspension. where they act as sites of deposit for older crystals of scale. thereby removing old formations of scale on well walls and associated equipment surfaces and discouraging formation of new scale deposits.

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Baden CRYSTAL GENERATOR TO INHIBIT SCALE FORMATION AND CORROSION IN FLUID HANDLING SYSTEMS BACKGROUND OF THli INVENTION In water and other fluid handling systems including wells. boilers. tanks and delivery lines. the costly problems of corrosion. scale and electrolysis are nearly always encountered.

These problems arise largely because ofthc presence of minerals and dissolved gases present in the fluids, especially those obtained from natural sources. This is true. for example. in the case of both potable and nonpotable water. For potable water the Federal Government recommends a maximum mineral content of 500 parts per million (ppm) dissolved solids. including 250 ppm of sulfates, 250 ppm of chlorides. l ppm of fluorides and 0.3 ppm of iron. Non-potable, brackish and- /or con-ate water in the oil fields typically contains more than 30,000 ppm dissolved solids, including 55 ppm sulfate. 15.000 ppm chloride and 3 ppm iron.

Such minerals form scale compounds through chemical reactions, and as they collect on the walls of pipes and other equipment they inhibit heat transfer or pro duce corrosion through metallic grain boundary attack. the tendency for either ill effect being dependent upon prevailing temperature and pressure conditions. For example, at atmospheric pressure, a particular sample of water will show scale forming tendencies at high temperatures (125 to 205 Fahrenheit) and the same sample of water will show corrosive tendencies at low temperatures (35 to 80 Fahrenheit).

These problems are complicated by the presence of electrolytic action. the minerals acting as an electrolyte and forming in cooperation with adjacent dissimilar metals an electrolytic cell. Electrical currents flowing from the electropositive metal involved in such combinations produces oxidation ofthc anode material which rapidly consumes the pipes or other metal parts.

Extremely heavy financial losses result from the accum ulations of scale and from the corrosive actions described. Losses of this nature are experienced in such industries as paper-making, chemical manufacturing, metal processing. cement and lime operations, rubbermaking, food processing, etc. The petroleum industry sustains heavy losses due to the formation of scale and paraffin in oil well pipes. pumps. flow lines, tanks and other equipment, and the problem is especially serious and costly in the case ofthe pumping operations where the well must be shut down periodically to clean out paraffin deposits and repair or replace corroded rods, fittings and tubing.

Various methods and devices have been employed in the past to combat these problems. Special coatings or paints have been applied to the interior surfaces of containers and pipes. Electra-positive metals such as Zinc or magnesium have been installed inside pumps and lines. these metals acting as sacrificial elements, replacing the working parts as the anode material and thereby preventing corrosion of the working parts by electrolytic action. Special insulating spacers are employed to prevent contact between dissimilar metals. Deliberate introduction of electrolytic action inside such equip ment has also been employed to inhibit scale forma tion.

In U.S. Pat. No. 3,448,034. by L. F. Craft, et al., the inventors propose the use ofa stabilizing element in the form of a metal core inserted inside the tubing ofa well. The core material of the stabilizing element comprises a mixture of several metals in a crystalline structure having non-conductive and non-sacrificing characteristics, its introduction into the fluid flow path producing a stabilizing effect which prevents precipitation of solids and subsequent collection as scale on equipment surfaces. While the chemistry involved in this stabilizing means was stated as not being fully understood by the inventors. they claimed reduction of corrosion and scale formation.

Although the methods and apparatus employed in the prior art reduce scaling, there is still considerable room for improvement in predicting scale removal and corrosion control since scaling is still being formed in fluid flow pipes and associated equipment. A very significant potention for additional savings and reduced costs for industry and the consumer in these vitally important operations and processes still remains.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In accordance with the invention claimed. an improved method and apparatus is provided for the reduction of scale formation and corrosion in fluid handling equipment and particularly in the tubing and hardware employed in pumping equipment.

It is, therefore. one object ofthis invention to provide an improved method and apparatus for the reduction of scale formation and corrosion in fluid handling equipment.

Another object of this invention is to provide such apparatus in a form specifically adapted for application to pumping equipment and most particularly for use in oil pumping and oil flow operations.

A further object of this invention is to provide such a specifically adapted apparatus in the form of a specially shaped hollow core through which the pumped fluid flows. an appreciable part of the mineral content of the fluid being thereby caused to enter a crystalline form while remaining suspended in the fluid to be carried through the pump and associated lines without at taching itself to the walls of the equipment or producing corrosive effects.

A still further object of this invention is to produce such a crystallizing effect in the specially shaped hollow core through the use of appropriately proportioned alloys in the core materials, the alloy contents being chosen to stimulate or generate in the crystalline structure of the alloys the crystalline structures of the mineral crystals to be precipitated.

A still further object of this invention is to provide such a specially shaped core in a geometric form which provides for a relatively large inner surface area for maximum contact with the fluid while at the same time providing a relatively small cross-sectional core area or fluid flow area to produce within the core a high fluid velocity and a significant drop in head pressure. These conditions of area, flow rate and drop in head pressure have been found to be most effective in inducing crys tallization of minerals in a manner which inhibits their collection on equipment walls.

Further objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent as the following description proceeds and the features of novelty which characterize this in vention will be pointed out with particularity in the claims annexed to and forming a part of this specificatron.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING The present invention may be more readily described by reference to the accompanying drawing, in which:

FIG. I is a partial perspective broken-away view showing interior and exterior details of the apparatus of the invention installed in an oil pump casing;

FIG. 2 is an exploded view of the several parts comprising the apparatus claimed;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of an alternate construction for a key element of the apparatus shown in FIG. I; and

FIG. 4 shows the cross-sectional configuration of the central core of the apparatus taken along line 44 of FIG. 2.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring more particularly to the drawing by characters of reference, FIG. I illustrates a crystal generator I installed, for example, between two sections, 11 and 12, of pump tubing contained in a well casing 13 which is surrounded by an earth or rock bed 14. It should be recognized that the generator may be hung directly below a pump in a pumping well or beneath a packer or hanger in a flowing well.

The crystal generator comprises a specially shaped hollow core 15 having a cylindrical or other geometrically shaped outer surface, two hollow cylindrical support members 16 and 17, each of which supports by containment one-half the length of the core 15 and each of which has external pipe threads at both ends, a retaining nut or coupling 18 into which adjoining ends of support members 16 and I7 are threaded and thereby secured, and an insulating bushing I9 or inert coating which snugly surrounds the outer surface of core 15.

Support members 16 and 17 are of substantially identical configuration, each having a length which is approximately equal to the length of core 15. Each member is divided lengthwise into two sections having different inside bore diameters. The bore of member 16 has, for example, a first diameter 21 along the lower half of its length and a second diameter 22 along the upper half of its length. Diameter 2] is slightly greater than the outside diameter of an inert coating or bushing 19, hereinafter referred to as a bushing for purposes of discussion so that bushing 19 covering core 15 fits snugly but without interference inside the bore of member 16 having diameter 21. The second bore diameter 22, however, is somewhat smaller than the outside di' ameter of bushing I9 so that the upper extremities or ends of core 15 and bushing 19 fit against the end of the inner surface of member 16 formed by the junction of the two sections of member 16 characterized by different bore diameters. Similarly, the lower half of core 15 is contained within the upper half of member 17. As noted from FIG. I, the upper halfof member 17 has the larger bore diameter and the periphery of the lower ends of core 15 and bushing 19 resting against the upper end of the inner surface of member 17. In the preferred manner of construction, bushing I9 is slightly longer than core 15 and is bonded or sprayed to the surface of core I5 so that only the ends of the bushing I9 rather than the ends of core I5 make physical contact with members I6 and 17.

FIG. 2 illustrates with greater clarity the geometric forms of the individual parts of crystal generator I0. Member 18 as shown is threaded at one end into tubing II. The junction of the two sections of member 16, characterized by the two different bore diameters 2] and 22, forms a step or flange 23 which bears against the hollow cylindrical bushing 19 covering the upper end of core l5 when generator I0 is assembled as shown in FIG. 1.

Core 15 comprising a cylindrical outer surface ISA has a cylindrical inner bore 20 extending through its full length and shown in FIGv 2 for purposes of illustration as having a four-leaf clover cross-sectional config uration. The contour was chosen to provide maximum surface area simultaneous with minimum crosssectional flow area in a pattern which is easy to form by convenient and inexpensive manufacturing techniques such as casting, extruding or by relatively simple machining operations.

An alternate construction for core I5 is illustrated in FIG. 3 where a center section 24 having the form of a ribbed down-spout pipe affords the same cloverleaf inner bore configuration as does core 15 of FIGS. 1 and 2, while two short cylindrical caps 25 and 26 also having a cloverleaf inner bore 27 are attached to the ends of center section 24 in a butt arrangement or slidably mounted on the end of an axle. End sections 25 and 26 can be conveniently fabricated from an appropriate insulating material so that the insulating function alternatively supplied by bushing 19 in FIGS. I and 2 is here accomplished by sections 25 and 26.

Crystal generator pipe I0 is mounted in the well by threading nut I8 part way onto the lower end of member 16 having bore diameter 21. At this time nut 18 is turned onto member 16 only a short way so that approximately half the threads of nut 18 are engaged by the threaded end of member I6. Core 15 is then inserted into the lower end of member 16. The upper end of member 17 is then slipped over the exposed lower end of core 15 and member 17 is then turned into the lower end of nut I8. With proper dimensioning the upper and lower ends of core IS will bear against the flanges in the inner surfaces of members 16 and 17 as member 17 is turned into nut I8 to a point just short of the meeting of the upper end of member 17 with the lower end of member 16. The crystal generator 10 is at this point assembled into a rigid unit, the core I5 having been confined within members [6 and I7, and the members 16 and 17 having been securely bound to gether at their adjoining ends by nut 18.

The generator I0 is then installed into well tubing II and 12 by turning the threaded lower end of member 17 into the internally threaded upper end of tubing I2 and by threading the internally threaded lower end of tubing 11 over the threaded upper end of member 16.

The assembled crystal generator as illustrated in FIG. I now provides a path through it for the flow of fluid which in the operation of the well flows upward from tubing 12, through the cloverleaf bore 20 of core 15 and tubing 1].

To understand the principles of crystallization of minerals carried by fluids, reference is made to Murphy and Rousseaus Fbundalions of College Chemistry, Ronald Press Company, New York, copyright I969, pages 252-253, wherein it is stated that:

When one cools a saturated solution of a solute whose solubility increases with temperature, excess solute should come out of solution at such a rate that the solution remains saturated at all times as the temperature decreases. In many instances, however. if the solution is left undisturbed, the excess solute over that required for saturation does not separate at the lower temperature but remains in the dissolved state. The solution then contains a higher concentration of solute than it would if it were in equilibrium with undissolved solute at the same temperature. and it is described as being supersaturated. A supersaturated solution is in a metastable state, that is, it may remain unchanged for a long time if it is not disturbed, but once the excess solute begins to separate, the process continues until equilibrium is reached.

A supersaturated solution cannot exist for long in the presence of undissolved solute, so that crystallization from such a solution can usually be started by adding a crystal of the solute as a seed. The phenomenon of supersaturation is reminiscent of the supercooling of a liquid and arises from similar causes. As would be expected, complex substances are often most prone to form supersaturated solutions because the probability of the individual particles colliding in just the right orientation to begin to build the crystal lattice is small unless an appropriate matrix is present. Again, as with a supercooled liquid, an air bubble, a piece of dirt, a chip of glass, or a crystal of some other substance of similar structure may serve to induce crystallization."

The operation of the crystal generator l employs the above principles.

Core I is fabricated from a special formula of a number of metals by means of a process which encourages the formation of a large number of alloys. The specific alloys incorporated in the core material are chosen in a deliberate attempt to simulate the crystal shapes of the important minerals contained in the fluids to be handled by the pump in which the crystal generator is to be installed. Metals incorporated in the alloys of one configuration of core 15, for example, include the following in the approximate proportions in dicated:

copper, from 54 percent through 69 percent zinc, from 1 percent through 23 percent nickel, from 9 percent through 27 percent lead, from 0.9 percent through 1 1 percent tin, from 1 percent through 7 percent The selection of each metal listed is directed toward the provision of a particular crystal geometry as called for by the mineral composition of the particular fluid being handled. Where there is a high concentration of calcium carbonate. for example, the nickel content is especially appropriate because of the similarity between the extremely small seedcrystals of calcium carbonate and those of nickel heat treated to the Beta phase.

As the fluid flows into the crystal generator 10 from tubing 12 entering core 15 with its specially shaped bore 20, there is a sudden pressure drop accompanied by a sudden increase in flow velocity because of the smaller cross-sectional area of bore relative to the cross-sectional area of tubing 12. Because of the abrupt discontinuity at the entrance to core 15 there is also present inside core 15 a high degree of turbulence. The increased velocity and the turbulence produces a vigorous washing of the inner surfaces of the core 15, and this vigorous washing in combination with the maximized surface area provided inside core 15 owing to the special cloverleaf bore 20 provided in the design insures a high degree of contact between the pumped fluid and the deliberately formed alloy crystal structures.

A number of conditions incorporated into the design of crystal generator 10 cooperate to produce crystallization of the dissolved minerals inside core 15. For instance, contact of the dissolved mineral molecules with the alloy crystals encourages the initial formation of the mineral crystal with the alloy crystal having the effect of a seed" crystal. The abrupt disturbance afforded by the sudden drop in pressure with the accompanying increase in velocity and the turbulence of the fluid within core 15 also aids in the initial crystal formation.

A second, more important function as taught herein is provided, however, by the high velocity and turbulence of the fluid. As the initial crystals are formed on the alloy surfaces they are immediately washed away by the violent action of the fluid before additional crystals may grow around the initial crystal and before such a growing crystal structure can attach itself permanently to the alloy surface. Furthermore, as the initial crystal is torn away from the alloy surface, the turbulence of the fluid produces a high degree of exposure of the crystal with additional mineral molecules of the same type so that the freed and suspended initial crystal rapidly grows as it passes on through core 15 and upward into tubing 11. The high velocity and the turbulence have thus served to promote crystal growth around seed crystals suspended within the pumped fluid rather than on the surface of the core 15 where they would otherwise soon build up to choke off fluid flow through generator 10 and require a dismantling and cleaning operation.

The crystals thus formed leave crystal generator 10 in the form of a suspended snow" which flows upward or through tubing H, and this crystal snow continues to serve as a constant supply of seed crystals around which further crystallization can occur as the fluid flows upward to surface equipment. The presence of such seed" crystals in suspension encourages the rapid stabilization of the mineral solution to a state of equilibrium where the crystallization process ceases. Because such stabilization has occurred through crystallization around suspended seeds" rather than on equipment surfaces, the crystallized minerals are carried on through the equipment to be discharged without detriment to tubing or equipment whereas they would otherwise have formed on tubing and equipment surfaces as scale which clogs the equipment and promotes corrosion.

The function of the insulating bushing 19 which surrounds core [5 is to insulate core 15 from members 16 and 17 and thereby to prevent electrolytic action between the dissimilar metals from which core 15 and members 16 and 17 are fabricated. Such electrolytic action would otherwise rapidly destroy or upset the seeding action of crystal generator l0 through corrosion or eddy currents as described earlier.

The crystal generator 10 is a very simple assembly employing parts which are readily adaptable for application in a broad variety of equipment. its effectiveness in preventing scale and corrosion in oil well lines is currently of the highest significance, but its potential usage in other fluid pumping and processing operations is also of great importance.

It should be recognized that the disclosed crystal generator may work in fluid passageways of given fluids for agricultural, medical, oil, automatic or semi-automatic water conditioning, and the various home uses. even through made of wood or plastic, since the pressure drops and turbulence may be enough to start the crystal seeding action.

Although only two embodiments of the present invention have been illustrated and described, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various changes and modifications may be made therein without departing from the spirit of the invention or from the scope of the appended claims.

What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus for generating crystals in a fluid flow line to inhibit scale formation and corrosive action comprising: a fluid flow pipe,

a hollow core snugly fitting into said fluid flow pipe in a well having a bore configuration, the iijtgrnal cross-sectional area of which is less than the crosssectional area of the fluid flow pipe, said core being formed of an alloy comprising substantially 54 to 69 percent of copper, l to 23 percent of zinc, 9 to 27 percent of nickel, 0.9 to ll percent oflead, and l to 7 percent of tin.

an insulating sleeve mounted around said core to prevent electrolytic action between said core and said fluid flow pipe,

the upstream end of said core, being mounted in said fluid flow pipe, providing a flange extending inwardly of the surface of the fluid flow pipe in which it is mounted to provide a means for creating a high velocity and turbulence of the fluid as it enters the bore of said core,

said high velocity and turbulence creating an abrupt disturbance which aids in crystal formation in the fluid which are washed away by the violent action of the fluid before additional crystals can grow around the initial crystals and form scale on adjacent equipment surfaces.

2. The apparatus for generating crystals in a fluid flow line set forth in claim 1 wherein:

the shape of the outside periphery of said core is cy lindrical, and

said cross-sectional cylindrical in shape.

3. The apparatus for generating crystals in a fluid flow line set forth in claim 1 wherein:

the shape of said erosssectional area of said core is in a cloverleaf configuration.

4. The apparatus for generating crystals in a fluid flow line set forth in claim 1 wherein:

said core is formed of an alloy designed to encourage the initial formation of mineral crystals with the alloy crystals.

5. The apparatus for generating crystals in a fluid flow line set forth in claim 1 wherein:

the shape of the outside periphery of said core is nonarea of said bore is non- 8 cylindrical. and said cross-sectional cylindrical in shape.

6. The apparatus for generating crystals in a fluid flow line set forth in claim I in further combination with:

an insulating coating applied around said core to prevent electrolytic action between said core and adjacent dissimilar metal.

7. An apparatus for generating crystals in a fluid flow line to inhibit scale formation and corrosive action comprising:

a hollow cylindrical sleeve formed by two detachably connected, axially aligned sections,

said sleeve being provided with threaded ends for threadedly engaging with interrupted sections of a fluid flow pipe to form an interconnecting pipe sec tion,

a hollow core for snugly fitting into said sleeve having a bore configuration, the internal cross-sectional area of which is less than the cross-sectional area of said sleeve, said core being formed of an alloy comprising substantially 54 to 69 percent of copper. 1 to 23 percent of zinc, 9 to 27 percent of nickel, 0.9 to ll percent of lead, and l to 7 percent of tin,

the upstream end of said core when mounted in said sleeve and said sleeve in a fluid flow pipe providing a flange extending inwardly of the inner surface of the fluid flow pipe in which it is mounted to provide a means for creating a high velocity and turbulence of the fluid as it enters the bore of said core,

said high velocity and turbulence creating an abrupt disturbance which aids in crystal formation in the fluid which are washed away by the violent action of the fluid before additional crystals can grow around the initial crystals and form scale on the adjacent fluid flow pipe surfaces, and

an insulating sleeve mounted around said core to prevent electrolytic action between said core and said sleeve.

8. The apparatus for generating crystals in a fluid flow line set forth in claim 7 wherein:

the shape of the outside periphery of said core is cylindrical and said cross-sectional area of said bore is non-cylindrical in shape.

9. The apparatus for generating crystals in a fluid flow line set forth in claim 7 wherein:

said core is formed of an alloy designed to encourage the initial formation of mineral crystals with the alloy crystals.

10. The apparatus for generating crystals in a fluid flow line set forth in claim 7 wherein:

the shape of the outside periphery of said core is noncylindrical and said cross-sectional area of said bore is non-cylindrical in shape.

area of said bore is non-

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Classifications
U.S. Classification422/245.1, 252/175, 159/DIG.130, 166/902, 23/301, 166/242.4, 252/387, 203/7, 420/473
International ClassificationB01D9/00, E21B37/06, C02F1/48
Cooperative ClassificationY10S159/13, C02F2303/22, C02F1/48, Y10S166/902, E21B37/06, B01D9/0013
European ClassificationC02F1/48, B01D9/00B4, E21B37/06