Separation Technology Research (STAR) Program
Joint Industry Project

STAR Program logo link to STAR Program

Contact Information

Chris Buckingham
Program Director
Separation Technology Research (STAR) Program
+1 (210) 522-3307

image of internal device used in separation vessels.

The STAR Program will include separation research covering a range of technologies, including internal devices used in separation vessels.

image of members of the consortium

Members of the STAR Program are able to interact with operators, contractors, and equipment manufacturers.


Vision Statement

Advance separation research that will result in accurate performance data to validate equipment and standardized test protocols.


Mission Statement

We benefit STAR Program Participants by providing accurate, applicable performance data for design, characterization, and qualification of separation equipment using a multi-company, collaborative model.

The STAR Program, led and administered by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), is a Joint Industry Project (JIP) for conducting research, conducting systematic testing, and enabling qualification of separation equipment. The STAR Program will combine the knowledge, effort, and resources from various members in the energy sector to collect relevant data on separation performance that would be too expensive for a single company to generate. The goal of the STAR Program is to systematically test separation equipment and increase fundamental knowledge in phase separation.

Members of the STAR Program guide the direction of this research program by identifying and selecting the technologies to be tested, providing input on standard testing approaches, and by actively participating in planning experiments, witnessing testing, and commenting on results. The program includes international participation and members from all non-sanctioned countries are welcome to join the program.

The STAR Program:

  • Provides a forum for experts in phase separation and equipment manufacturers to meet on a regular basis and discuss common needs, available technologies, and new developments.
  • Is intended to motivate the improvement of existing technologies or identify gaps that can lead to the development of new technologies.
  • Is intended to continue for many years, although the initial study is a three-year program that began in June 2014.
  • Involves projects on gas/liquid separation, as well as liquid/liquid and three-phase separation.
  • Includes a general approach of testing as close to field-like conditions as possible, including high pressures with hydrocarbon fluids, and developing standard testing approaches that can be used to evaluate and compare similar technologies.
  • Will also include low-pressure basic testing, as needed, in the early stages of evaluation of a technology.
  • Will develop guidelines or recommended practices, based on the data collected from this program.

Participating Companies

4 Operators
8 Contractors
8 Equipment Manufacturers

STAR Program Benefits

  • Leveraged research will result in reduced time and cost from initial concept to field application.
  • Standardized testing will provide consistent evaluation of similar technologies, minimizing repeated testing and providing a level playing field.
  • A reduction in risk associated with implementing technologies in the field will be achieved by consistent qualification testing at independent test facilities.
  • Contractors will have performance data on equipment to offer as packaged solutions to clients, and equipment manufacturers can use the same data to market their products among members or improve their technologies.
  • Both proprietary and non-proprietary equipment can be tested. Data will be shared by the participants, while protecting the manufacturer's know-how.
  • Independent performance data and physics-based models will be developed for various types of separation equipment.
  • Research will be conducted using existing flow loops, thus minimizing capital costs.

The project budget is approximately $1 million dollars per year, and funding comes from fees paid by member companies. Contact Chris Buckingham at (210) 522-3307 today for the membership fee structure.


    In specifying and selecting gas-liquid separation equipment, it is necessary to understand the performance of devices over the entire operating envelope of pressures, temperatures, and flow composition. The performance of the equipment is affected by many interdependent factors, such as the overall fluid dynamics and gas/liquid ratio of the inlet flow, flow distribution, and the fluid properties of the gas and liquid phases, all of which vary with pressure and temperature. The objective of this project is to develop performance data on scrubber internals (vane inlet device, mesh pad, and demisting cyclone pack) offered by seven equipment manufacturers with model oil and methane gas at field conditions. This project has been completed.
    Correlating the coalescence efficiency of plate packs under various conditions can be used for the prediction of separation performance, and thus the selection of equipment. The objective of this project is to obtain performance data on two standard plate pack devices in liquid/liquid service. The idea is not to simulate field-like conditions but to characterize the performance of the systems under controlled conditions. The testing will involve testing with two standard plate packs under various atmospheric conditions, water cuts, fluid viscosities, inlet shearing conditions (droplet size), and over a range of flow rates. The project has been completed.
    Compact separation is a great weight and space saver for topside applications such as debottlenecking, but it is the holy grail of subsea. However, performance data of commercially available compact separators under a variety of field-like conditions, which would provide the confidence to use compact separation in subsea application, isn’t currently available. The objective of this project is to collect small-scale performance data (taking advantage of available testing facilities) for a wide range of realistic operating conditions on currently available cyclonic/compact separators. The project is currently underway at SwRI's Multiphase Flow Facility (MFF) and will be completed in May 2017.


    The presence of MEG is known to affect the performance of a gas/liquid scrubber. There is a question of whether and how much derating is necessary to account for the presence of MEG in comparison to the performance of identical equipment in an oil/gas only system. This project will provide a set of indicative tests to provide guidance for the definition of further testing to determine the details of glycol effects. The target application is intended to address the flow at the end of a tieback from an offshore platform in which MEG has been injected for hydrate inhibition. The expected outcome of this project is to measure the difference in performance of a scrubber package when MEG is present in the hydrocarbon/oil multiphase flow. This project will leverage the data and facility setup used for the Scrubber Internals Performance Testing project. The project is nearly finalized, and the project is expected to be conducted in mid-2016.
    The performance of vane packs for gas scrubber applications is not known with high confidence. Mapping the performance range of three "generic" vane packs – no pocket, single pocket, double pocket – over a wide range of conditions will help to determine the conditions at which the performance changes in order to obtain the basic flow performance of vane packs under realistic pressure conditions. This project will target applications such as compressor scrubbers (where efficiency is very important) and production scrubbers (where performance must be well-known or predictable). The project plan is under active development, and the project is expected to be initiated in late-2016.


Don't miss this opportunity! Join Today!

Related Terminology

separator • separation • scrubber • gas liquid • liquid liquid • oil water •  in-line  • flare scrubber • demisting • cyclones • hydrocyclone • mist elimination • structured packing • random packing • filter • foam • inlet device • vane-type inlet device • vane-pack • flow conditioning • internals • gas carry under • liquid carry over • slugs • agglomeration • droplet • droplet size distribution • free water knockout • coalescing media • mesh pad • plate pack • vortex breakers • distribution baffles • electrostatic coalescer • emulsions • compact separation/separator • degaser • high-pressure

Benefiting government, industry and the public through innovative science and technology
Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®), headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, is a multidisciplinary, independent, nonprofit, applied engineering and physical sciences research and development organization with 9 technical divisions.