Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is an innovative and powerful tool that can help to easily predict the behaviour of fluids and monitor the separation performance of the internals.

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CFD can be applied in all the design stages, promoting optimisation of the CAPEX and OPEX investments and facilitating debottlenecking activities or troubleshooting problems at existing plants.

Over the last 10 years, Costacurta has invested greatly in the development of CFD know-how, collaborating also with Italian laboratories and universities specialised in this field. Today, Costacurta, with its qualified team, is engaged in strategic international projects, in which CFD simulations are a fundamental tool.

CFD offers a valuable contribution above all in cases of extreme or unconventional operating conditions where traditional calculation programmes do not allow appropriate optimisation of the internal design of the separator.

Combining CFD simulation with the process engineering experience gained over the years, Costacurta’s engineers are able to identify the best solution to different operating and process problems that may be encountered in many fields and types of plants. Moreover, it is possible to numerically test innovative technical solutions to apply to specific problems.

Using CFD it is possible to:

  • check the actual distribution of the multi-phase flows
  • select the most suitable internal components
  • check the velocity profiles inside the separators and/or identify the best internals to standardise them
  • perform detailed engineering of the selected internals
  • predict and/or confirm the separation performance
  • calculate and/or estimate the pressure drop
  • calculate the mechanical stresses
  • estimate the vibrations caused by the movement of the fluids
  • select the number and position of the flow equalisers to mitigate the sloshing effect
  • identify levels of liquid to optimise separation


New projects

In new projects, the use of CFD is fundamental in the case of:

  • extremely restrictive weight and size constraints of the plant, in particular, for example, on offshore platforms
  • difficulty in predicting the behaviour of the fluids in complex equipment and, consequently, the separation performance
  • critical operating conditions and the risk of slugs

Exploiting the potential of CFD simulations, Costacurta’s team of process engineers can:

  • predict process criticalities and determine the actual behaviour of the internals
  • identify areas of stagnation or potential malfunctions inside the separator that could impair the overall separation performance
  • suggest the best combination of internals and optimise their sizes to achieve the required separation performances.


In revamping projects, Costacurta applies CFD during troubleshooting and debottlenecking activities to:

  • identify problems caused by incorrect fluid-dynamics in the separators or in the existing internals
  • carry out detailed studies to optimise the new proposed internals
  • check and/or optimise the fluid-dynamic behaviour of the selected solution

CFD also allows simulation of different possible scenarios, enabling great marked operating flexibility of the solution proposed.

Combining a detailed CFD study with structural FEM (Finite Element Method) analysis, Costacurta is able to support its clients in identifying the optimal solution, minimising the impact of unit downtime costs and times, improving safety and reducing the environmental impact.

Floating applications

In floating systems such as FPSO (Floating Production, Storage and Offloading) or TLP (Tension Leg Platform), the behaviour of multi-phase fluids is even more difficult to predict, as it is affected by the movement of the ship or the platform.

Indeed, the movement of the platform can create additional turbulence inside the vessel, liquid spill over and even significant reductions in the separation efficiency.

Applying CFD, Costacurta is able to:

  • simulate the movement of the platform, reliably predicting the behaviour of the fluids
  • check the number, position and correct design of the flow equalisers, to stabilise functioning and optimise the separation process
  • identify the type of internals necessary to achieve the required performances


Depending on its clients’ needs, Costacurta is able to develop different types of simulations to optimise the functioning of the separator internals or solve specific problems.

Single-phase simulation

Used to characterise the behaviour of the fluids inside the separators and calculate the pressure drop.

Multiphase simulation

Used for finer separation, analysing trajectories and distribution of the single dispersed droplets (through Eulerian-Lagrangian type simulations) and to check the behaviour of multiphase mixtures (by means of Eulerian-Eulerian or VOF (Volume of Fluid) type simulations).

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