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Title:
HIGH SPEED ROTOR DYNAMICS CENTRALIZER
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2021/022091
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A centralizer for use in high speed rotor dynamics applications includes a housing having a first end portion and a second end portion. The centralizer further includes a rotatable shaft positioned within a cavity of the housing. The centralizer also includes flexure springs that are each attached to and extend between the first end portion and the second end portion. The flexure springs are compressible toward a middle portion of the housing that is between the first end portion and the second end portion. The centralizer further includes roller wheels attached to the flexure springs.

Inventors:
MONTOYA JAMES (US)
Application Number:
PCT/US2020/044351
Publication Date:
February 04, 2021
Filing Date:
July 30, 2020
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
CHEVRON USA INC (US)
International Classes:
E21B17/10; E21B7/10; E21B17/04
Foreign References:
US2251040A1941-07-29
US6382333B12002-05-07
US4606417A1986-08-19
US1898074A1933-02-21
US1893020A1933-01-03
US5810100A1998-09-22
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ANDERSON, Parul, P. et al. (US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A centralizer for use in high speed rotor dynamics applications, the centralizer comprising:

a cylindrical housing having a first end portion and a second end portion;

a rotatable shaft positioned within a cavity of the cylindrical housing;

flexure springs that are each attached to and extend between the first end portion and the second end portion, wherein the flexure springs are compressible toward a middle portion of the cylindrical housing that is between the first end portion and the second end portion; and roller wheels attached to the flexure springs.

2. The centralizer of claim 1, wherein the flexure springs are leaf springs designed to have a desired spring rate.

3. The centralizer of claim 1 , wherein two roller wheels of the roller wheels are attached to each flexure spring of the flexure springs.

4. The centralizer of claim 1, wherein the roller wheels are spaced from the middle portion of the cylindrical housing when the flexure springs are not compressed.

5. The centralizer of claim 1, wherein the roller wheels remain spaced from the cylindrical housing when the flexure springs are compressed toward the cylindrical housing with an amount of force.

6. The centralizer of claim 1, wherein the flexure springs are mounted 120 degrees apart from each other around the cylindrical housing.

7. The centralizer of claim 1, wherein each flexure spring of the flexure springs includes an elongated attachment hole at an end portion of the flexure spring and wherein an attachment pin extends through the elongated attachment hole attaching the flexure spring to the first end portion of the cylindrical housing.

8. The centralizer of claim 7, wherein each flexure spring of the flexure springs includes a round attachment hole at a second end portion of the flexure spring and wherein a second attachment pin extends through the round attachment hole attaching the flexure spring to the second end portion of the cylindrical housing.

9. The centralizer of claim 1, further comprising a first bearing at the first end portion and a second bearing at the second end portion, wherein a first end portion of the shaft extends through the first bearing and wherein a second end portion of the shaft extends through the second bearing.

10. The centralizer of claim 9, wherein the first bearing and the second bearing support and transmit rotodynamic loads from the rotatable shaft through the cylindrical housing, the flexure springs, and the roller wheels.

11. The centralizer of claim 9, wherein the first bearing and the second bearing are each a roller bearing or a thrust bearing.

12. The centralizer of claim 1, further comprising:

a first coupler attached to the first end portion of the shaft for attaching a first rotatable rod to the shaft; and

a second coupler attached to the second end portion of the shaft for attaching a second rotatable rod to the shaft.

13. The centralizer of claim 1, wherein the cavity of the cylindrical housing is hermetically sealed by seals at the first end portion and the second end portion and wherein the cavity contains a lubricant.

14. A system for use in high speed rotor dynamics applications, the system comprising: a centralizer, comprising:

a cylindrical housing having a first end portion and a second end portion; a rotatable shaft positioned within a cavity of the cylindrical housing;

flexure springs that are each attached to and extend between the first end portion and the second end portion, wherein the flexure springs are compressible toward a middle portion of the cylindrical housing that is between the first end portion and the second end portion; and

roller wheels attached to the flexure springs; and

a first rod attached to the centralizer; and

a second rod attached to the centralizer at an opposite side from the first rod.

15. The system of claim 14, further comprising:

a first coupler attached to the first end portion of the shaft for attaching a first rotatable rod to the shaft; and

a second coupler attached to the second end portion of the shaft for attaching a second rotatable rod to the shaft.

16. The system of claim 14, wherein the flexure springs are mounted 120 degrees apart from each other around the cylindrical housing.

17. The system of claim 14, wherein the centralizer further comprises a first bearing at the first end portion and a second bearing at the second end portion, wherein a first end portion of the shaft extends through the first bearing and wherein a second end portion of the shaft extends through the second bearing.

18. The system of claim 17, wherein the first bearing and the second bearing support and transmit rotodynamic loads from the rotatable shaft through the cylindrical housing, the flexure springs, and the roller wheels.

19. The system of claim 17, wherein the first bearing and the second bearing are each a roller bearing or a thrust bearing.

20. The system of claim 14, wherein the flexure springs are leaf springs designed to have a desired spring rate.

Description:
HIGH SPEED ROTOR DYNAMICS CENTRALIZER

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] The present application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. Section 119(e) to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 62/881,469, filed August 1, 2019 and titled“High Speed Rotor Dynamics Centralizer,” and to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 63/051,716, filed July 14, 2020 and titled“Artificial Lift Systems Utilizing High Speed Centralizers,” The entire contents of the foregoing applications are hereby incorporated herein by reference.

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0002] The present application is generally related to centralizers and more particularly to a centralizer for use within a long-spanning, cylindrical tube or pipe in high speed rotor dynamics applications.

BACKGROUND

[0003] A rod centralizer or a drive shaft centralizer is often used to keep a rotating rod (or a rod string) centered in a tubing string and functions to prevent the rotating rod from contacting the inner surface of the tubing. In some applications, a rod may need to be rotated at a relatively high rate. In general, the conventional commercially available rod or drive shaft centralizer technology (i.e., spin-through technology) is not suitable for use in high speed rotary applications. Conventional rod or drive shaft centralizers are generally not designed to handle the high speed rod/shaft rotations and resulting rotor dynamic loadings.

[0004] Some existing centralizers that are used with a rotating rod may include solid vanes, ribs or other rigid features that abut against the inner surface of a tubing to keep the rod centered. However, such rigid structures cannot assure that the centralizer is held fixed to the tubing (i.e. rotationally static). A centralizer that has solid vanes may rotate relative to the tubing after insertion into the tubing because an interference fit cannot be guaranteed due to wear during the insertion. Further, the overall outer diameter of centralizer vanes that may be required to provide a desired rigidity and/or fixity may prevent the rod from reaching desired depths because the centralizer can get stuck by interference with the tubing internal diameter. Furthermore, some existing centralizers with vanes have cutout features, but such cutouts may get caught (or hung up) at tubing connections, resulting in the centralizer again potentially being stuck in the tubing and unable to go further into the tubing. Some existing centralizers, such as bow-spring centralizers, are typically designed for non-rotational applications and do not incorporate bearings (roller, thrust or otherwise), and, thus, such centralizers are generally not suitable for high speed rotational and/or long duration use. Thus, a centralizer that does not rely on rigid vanes, ribs or similar features to center a rod string due to the aforementioned issues, but can be rotationally fixed or coupled to the tubing and that can be utilized at coupling points of the rod string at high rotational velocities (e.g., 1000 - 4000 rpm) while providing the flexibility for use in internal areas/volumes of a tubing may be desirable.

SUMMARY

[0005] The present application is generally related to centralizers and more particularly to a centralizer for use within long spanning cylindrical tube or pipe in high speed rotor dynamics applications. In an example embodiment, a centralizer for use in high speed rotor dynamics applications includes a housing having a first end portion and a second end portion. The centralizer further includes a rotatable shaft positioned within a cavity of the housing. The centralizer also includes flexure springs that are each attached to and extend between the first end portion and the second end portion. The flexure springs are compressible toward a middle portion of the housing that is between the first end portion and the second end portion. The centralizer further includes roller wheels attached to the flexure springs.

[0006] In another example embodiment, a system for use in high speed rotor dynamics applications includes a centralizer. The centralizer includes a cylindrical housing having a first end portion and a second end portion, a rotatable shaft positioned within a cavity of the cylindrical housing, and flexure springs that are each attached to and extend between the first end portion and the second end portion. The rotatable shaft is supported within and transmits loads to the cavity of the cylindrical housing via bearings (roller, thrust and/or otherwise). The flexure springs are compressible toward a middle portion of the cylindrical housing that is between the first end portion and the second end portion. The centralizer further includes roller wheels attached to the flexure springs. The system further includes a first rod attached to the centralizer and a second rod attached to the centralizer at an opposite side from the first rod.

[0007] These and other aspects, objects, features, and embodiments will be apparent from the following description and the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0008] Reference will now be made to the accompanying drawings, which are not necessarily drawn to scale, and wherein: [0009] FIG. 1 illustrates perspective view of a high speed rotor dynamics centralizer according to an example embodiment;

[0010] FIG. 2 illustrates a partially exploded view of the high speed rotor dynamics centralizer of FIG. 1 according to an example embodiment;

[0011] FIG. 3 illustrates an end-side view of the high speed rotor dynamics centralizer of FIG. 1 according to an example embodiment;

[0012] FIG. 4 illustrates a cross-sectional view of the high speed rotor dynamics centralizer of FIG. 1 along line A-A according to an example embodiment;

[0013] FIG. 5 illustrates a close-up view of a portion B of the high speed rotor dynamics centralizer shown in FIG. 4 according to an example embodiment;

[0014] FIG. 6 illustrates a shaft of the high speed rotor dynamics centralizer of FIG. 1 according to an example embodiment;

[0015] FIG. 7 illustrates a housing of the high speed rotor dynamics centralizer of FIG. 1 according to an example embodiment;

[0016] FIG. 8 A illustrates a side view of a flexure spring of the high speed rotor dynamics centralizer of FIG. 1 according to an example embodiment;

[0017] FIG. 8B illustrates a top view of a flexure spring of the high speed rotor dynamics centralizer of FIG. 1 according to an example embodiment;

[0018] FIGS. 9A-9C illustrate different views of a coupler of the high speed rotor dynamics centralizer of FIG. 1 according to an example embodiment;

[0019] FIG. 10 illustrates a clevis pin for use in the high speed rotor dynamics centralizer of FIG. 1 according to an example embodiment;

[0020] FIG. 11 illustrates a bearing for use in the high speed rotor dynamics centralizer of FIG. 1 according to another example embodiment;

[0021] FIG. 12 illustrates the high speed rotor dynamics centralizer of FIG. 1 coupled to rotatable rods according to an example embodiment;

[0022] FIG. 13 illustrates the high speed rotor dynamics centralizer of FIG. 1 coupled to rotatable rods and positioned in a tubing according to an example embodiment;

[0023] FIG. 14 illustrates a close-up view of a portion C of the high speed rotor dynamics centralizer shown in FIG. 13 according to an example embodiment; and

[0024] FIGS. 15A and 15B illustrate a high speed rotor dynamics centralizer according to another example embodiment.

[0025] The drawings illustrate only example embodiments and are therefore not to be considered limiting in scope. The elements and features shown in the drawings are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon clearly illustrating the principles of the example embodiments. Additionally, certain dimensions or placements may be exaggerated to help visually convey such principles. In the drawings, the same reference numerals used in different drawings may designate like or corresponding but not necessarily identical elements.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0026] In the following paragraphs, particular embodiments will be described in further detail by way of example with reference to the drawings. In the description, well-known components, methods, and/or processing techniques are omitted or briefly described. Furthermore, reference to various feature(s) of the embodiments is not to suggest that all embodiments must include the referenced feature(s).

[0027] The present application is generally related to centralizers and more particularly to a centralizer for use within a cylindrical tube or pipe in high speed rotor dynamics applications.

[0028] FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of a high speed rotor dynamics centralizer 100 according to an example embodiment. In some example embodiments, the centralizer 100 includes a cylindrical housing 102 and multiple flexure springs (e.g., three flexure springs) including flexure springs 104, 106. The centralizer 100 may also include couplers 108, 110 that are attached to the housing 102 at opposite ends of the housing 102. The housing 102 may include end portions 112, 114 and a middle portion that is between the end portions 112, 114. The flexure spring 104 is attached to the end portions 112, 114. For example, the centralizer 100 may include a mounting structure 118 at the end portion 112 and another mounting structure 120 at the end portion 114, where the mounting structures 118, 120 are used to attach the flexure spring 104 to the housing 102. The flexure spring 106 is attached to the housing 102 using an attachment structure 122 at the end portion 112 and an attachment structure 124 at the end portion 114. A third flexure spring (shown in FIG. 3) may be similarly attached to the end portions 112, 114 using respective attachment structures.

[0029] In some example embodiments, each flexure spring of the centralizer 100 may include a spring element that includes attachment end portions that are attached to respective mounting structures of the housing 102. For example, the flexure spring 104 extends between the end portions 112, 114 spaced from a middle portion 116 of the housing 102 that is between the end portions 112, 114. To illustrate, the flexure spring 104 may include an attachment end portion 126 that is attached to the mounting structure 118 using, for example, a clevis pin 130. The flexure spring 104 may also include an attachment end portion 128 at an opposite end of the flexure spring 104 that is attached to the mounting structure 120 using, for example, a clevis pin 132. The flexure spring 106 and the third flexure spring may be similarly attached to mounting structures at the end portions 112, 114 using clevis pins and may extend between the end portions 112, 114 spaced from the middle portion 116 of the housing 102 in a similar manner as the flexure spring 104.

[0030] In some example embodiments, two roller wheels may be attached to each flexure spring of the centralizer 100. For example, roller wheels 134, 136 may be attached to the flexure spring 104 and may be oriented to facilitate the movement/insertion of the centralizer 100 in longitudinal directions through a tubing and to resist the rotation of the housing 102 of the centralizer 100 in the tubing. The roller wheels 134, 136 may be rotatably attached to the flexure spring 104 using, for example, a respective clevis wheel such as a clevis pin 138. When the centralizer 100 is positioned in a tubing, the wheels 134, 136 may be in contact with the inner surface of the tubing such that the flexure spring 104 is compressed toward the middle portion 116 of the housing 102, and applies a preload that is intended to rotationally fix or couple the centralizer to the tubing. The roller wheels 134, 136 may be attached to the flexure spring 104 such that the wheels 134, 136 extend radially beyond the flexure spring 104 with respect to a center axis through of the cylindrical housing 102.

[0031] In some example embodiments, roller wheels 140, 142 may be similarly attached to the flexure spring 106 using respective clevis pins. The roller wheels 140, 142 may also radially extend beyond the flexure spring 106 in a similar manner as described with respect to the wheels 134, 136. Another pair of roller wheels may also be attached to the third flexure spring of the centralizer 100 and may radially extend beyond the third flexure spring.

[0032] In some example embodiments, the centralizer 100 may be mounted to rods using the couplers 108, 110. For example, each coupler 108, 110 may be threaded to receive a threaded end of a respective rod. As explained below with respect to FIG. 2, the couplers 108, 110 may be attached to a shaft that extends through a cavity of the housing 102 such that the shaft and the couplers 108, 110 can rotate while the housing 102 along with flexure springs remain rotationally static inside a tubing. In some alternative embodiments, other coupling structures other than the couplers 108, 110 may be used to attach the centralizer 100 to a rod string as can be readily understood by those of ordinary skill in the art with the benefit of this disclosure.

[0033] During operations, the centralizer 100 may be placed in a tubing such that the roller wheels attached to the flexure springs come in contact with the tubing and the flexure springs are compressed by the tubing toward the middle portion 116 of the housing 102. Because of the orientations of the flexure springs, including the flexure springs 104, 106, the housing 102 of the centralizer 100 along flexure springs may remain rotationally static while the centralizer 100 moves through the tubing and/or the couplers 108, 110 along with respective attached rods rotate.

[0034] By using the roller wheels that are attached to the flexure springs, the centralizer 100 facilitates the longitudinal movement of the centralizer 100 in a tubing while restraining the rotation of the centralizer 100 in the tubing by virtue of counteracting force exerted by the compressed flexure springs. In contrast to centralizers that use fixed and rigid vanes to provide lateral restraints, the use of the roller wheels attached to the flexure springs enables the centralizer 100 to be moved through a tubing with relatively reduced risk of getting stuck, for example, at tubing joints while enabling the relatively high speed rotation of rods attached to the couplers 108, 110. Further, by providing an open space (i.e., no vanes) between adjacent flexure springs, fluid may flow pass on the outside of the centralizer 100 with relatively less obstruction compared to centralizers that have fixed vanes.

[0035] In some example embodiments, the housing 102 may be made from aluminum or another suitable material using methods known by those of ordinary skill in the art with the benefit of this disclosure. In some example embodiments, the flexure springs 104, 106, etc. and the couplers 108, 110 may be made from steel or another suitable material using methods known to those of ordinary skill in the art with the benefit of this disclosure. In some example embodiments, the roller wheels may be made from aluminum or another suitable material using methods known by those of ordinary skill in the art with the benefit of this disclosure.

[0036] In some example embodiments, the flexure springs can have a coil, compression, extension, or torsional configuration without departing from the scope of this disclosure. In some example embodiments, the flexure springs may each be a leaf spring or another type of spring. In some alternative embodiments, more or fewer than two roller wheels can be attached to each flexure spring without departing from the scope of this disclosure. In some example embodiments, the centralizer 100 may include more than three flexure springs and more than three corresponding pairs of mounting structures without departing from the scope of this disclosure. In some alternative embodiments, other attachment elements instead of or in addition due clevis pins may be used to attach the flexure springs to the housing 102 and to attach the roller wheels to the flexure springs. In some alternative embodiments, the flexure springs 104, 106, etc. may be attached to the end portions 112, 114 using structures other than the mounting structures, such as the mounting structures 118, 120, 122, 124, etc.

[0037] FIG. 2 illustrates a partially exploded view of the high speed rotor dynamics centralizer 100 of FIG. 1 according to an example embodiment. Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, in some example embodiments, the centralizer 100 includes a shaft 214 that extends through a cavity of the housing 102 of the centralizer 100. Each end portion of the shaft 214 may be attached to the respective one of the couplers 108 or 110. As described above, each end portion of the shaft 214 may be threaded and may be attached to a threaded hole of the respective coupler 108 or 110. The shaft 214 may be coupled to the couplers 108, 110 and extend through the cavity of the housing 102 such that the shaft 214 rotates along with the couplers 108, 110 relative to the housing 102.

[0038] In some example embodiments, the centralizer 100 may include a bearing 202 at each end portion 112, 114, where each end portion of the shaft 214 extends through the respective bearing 202.

[0039] In some example embodiments, the centralizer 100 may also include a retaining ring 204 to retain the respective bearing 202 at each end portion 112, 114 of the housing 102. The centralizer 100 may also include a retaining ring 206, a seal backing ring 208, a shaft seal 210, and another retaining ring 212 at each end portion 112, 114. Each retaining ring 204, 206, 212 may be at least partially positioned around a respective end portion of the shaft 214. Each seal backing ring 208 and each shaft seal 210 may be positioned around a respective end portion of the shaft 214. The cavity of the housing 102 may be hermetically sealed by the shaft seal 210 at the end portions 112, 114. The sealed cavity of the housing 102 may serve as a reservoir for containing a lubricant to lubricate the bearing 202 at each end portion 112, 114, which can result in reduced friction and heat and prolong the life of the components of the centralizer 100.

[0040] In some example embodiments, each retaining ring 204 retains the respective bearing 202 in place around the shaft 214 at the respective end portion 112, 114 of the housing 102. For example, the retaining ring 204 may be positioned in an anular groove formed in the shaft 214 as shown in FIG. 5. The retaining rings 206, 212 at each end portion of the housing 102 retain the seal backing ring 208 and the seal 210 in place. For example, the retaining rings 206, 212 may be positioned in a respective groove formed in the housing 102 as shown in FIG. 5. The bearings 202 allow the shaft 214 to rotate along with the couplers 108, 110 relative to the housing 102 that can remain rotationally static.

[0041] As more clearly shown in FIG. 2, in some example embodiments, the flexure spring 104 includes a slot 216 for positioning the roller wheel 134. The clevis pin 138 may be inserted through respective holes in the roller wheel 134 and the flexure spring 104 to rotatably attach the roller wheel 135 to the flexure spring 134. The other roller wheels used in the centralizer 100 may be rotatably attached to the respective flexure springs in a similar manner. [0042] In general, the bearing 202 may be or may be replaced with a roller bearing, a thrust bearing, a journal bearing, or generally a type including high temperature graphite, ceramic, polycrystalline diamond, tungsten carbide, and magnetic bearing types. In some example embodiments, a polycrystalline diamond bearing may be used in place of the bearing 202, where each bearing at the end portions 112, 114 is unsealed such that fluid freely flows through the bearing interfaces and enabling generated frictional heat to be transferred to the fluid. In some alternative embodiments, the centralizer 100 may include different components and/or a different arrangements of the components than shown in FIG. 2 without departing from the scope of this disclosure. In some alternative embodiments, some of the components of the centralizer 100 may be omitted or integrated into a single component without departing from the scope of this disclosure.

[0043] FIG. 3 illustrates an end-side view of the high speed rotor dynamics centralizer 100 of FIG. 1 according to an example embodiment. Referring to FIGS. 1-3, in some example embodiments, the centralizer 100 includes the flexure springs 104, 106, and a flexure spring 302 that is similar to the flexure springs 104, 106. The flexure springs 104, 106, 302 may be spaced 120 degrees from each other around the housing 102. Two roller wheels including a roller wheel 304 may be attached to the flexure spring 304 in a similar manner as described with respect to the flexure springs 104, 106.

[0044] As shown in FIG. 3, an illustrative circle 306 represents a circle through the farthest end points of circularly aligned wheels of the centralizer 100, such as the wheels 134, 140, 304 attached to the flexure springs 104, 106, 302, with respect to an axis through the center of the housing 102. In some example embodiments, the centralizer 100 may be used in a tubing that has an inner diameter that is less than the diameter of the illustrative circle 306. To illustrate, when the diameter of the illustrative circle 306 is smaller than the diameter of a tubing, inserting the centralizer 100 into the tubing can result in the compression of the flexure springs 104, 106, 302 toward the middle portion 116 of the housing 102. Because of the orientations of the wheels 134, 140, 304, the centralizer 100 along with an attached rod or rod string can be readily moved further into or out of the tubing while the counter force exerted by the flexure springs 104, 106, 302 can restrain the housing 102 along with the flexure springs 104, 106, 302 from rotating. The flexure springs 104, 106, 302 retain the rod or rod string attached to the centralizer 100 centered in the tubing.

[0045] FIG. 4 illustrates a cross-sectional view of the high speed rotor dynamics centralizer 100 of FIG. 1 along line A- A according to an example embodiment. Referring to FIGS. 1-4, in some example embodiments, the shaft 214 is attached to couplers 108, 110 at opposite end portions of the shaft 214. To illustrate, a threaded end portion 402 of the shaft 214 may be positioned in a threaded hole 406 of the coupler 108, and a threaded end portion 404 of the shaft 214 may be positioned in a threaded hole 408 of the coupler 110. The coupler 108 may also have another threaded hole 410 for attaching a rod (e.g., a threaded-end rod) to the coupler 108, and thus to the centralizer 100. The coupler 110 may also have another threaded hole 412 for attaching a rod (e.g., a threaded-end rod) to the coupler 110, and thus to the centralizer 100.

[0046] As shown in FIG. 4, the end portion 126 of the flexure spring 104 is attached to mounting structure 118 using the clevis pin 130, and the end portion 128 of the flexure spring 104 is attached to the mounting structure 120 using the clevis pin 132. As shown in FIG. 4, the roller wheels 134, 136 extend beyond the flexure spring 104 such that the roller wheels 134, 136, and not the flexure spring 104, make contact with the inner surface of a tubing in which the centralizer 100 is placed. As more clearly shown in FIG. 4, the flexure spring 304 as well as the roller wheels 134, 136 are spaced from the middle portion 116 of the housing 102 when the flexure spring 104 is uncompressed. When the flexure spring 104 is compressed, for example, as result of the roller wheels 134, 136 being in contact with and preloaded at the inner surface of a tubing, the flexure spring 304 as well as the roller wheels 134, 136 may become closer to but still spaced from the middle portion 116 of the housing 102 to allow wheel movement/rotation. The other flexure springs and roller wheels of the centralizer 100 may operate in a similar manner to center rod(s) or rod strings(s) attached to the centralizer 100.

[0047] FIG. 5 illustrates a close-up view of a portion B of the high speed rotor dynamics centralizer 100 as shown in FIG. 4 according to an example embodiment. Referring to FIGS. 1-5, in some example embodiments, the threaded end portion 402 of the shaft 214 is attached to the threaded hole of the coupler 108. The retaining ring 204 is positioned in a groove of the shaft 214 to retain the bearing 202 in place around the shaft 214 at the end portion 112 of the housing 102. The bearing 202 is retained in place by the housing 102 at an opposite end from the retaining ring 204. The retaining rings 206, 212 retain the seal backing ring 208 and the seal 210 in place and are positioned in respective grooves in the housing 102. As described above, bearing 202 allows the shaft 214 to rotate along with the coupler 108 relative to the housing 102. In some example embodiments, the shaft 214 is attached to coupler 110 in a similar manner. In some example embodiments, the bearing 202 and other components at the end portion 114 of the housing 102 may be attached and arrange in a similar manner.

[0048] In some example embodiments, the clevis pin 130 extends through an elongated attachment hole 502 at the end portion 126 of the flexure spring 126. For example, the clevis pin 130 may extend through the attachment hole 502 as well as through holes in the mounting structure 118 at the end portion 112 of the housing 102.

[0049] FIG. 6 illustrates the shaft 214 of the high speed rotor dynamics centralizer 100 of FIG. 1 according to an example embodiment. Referring to FIGS. 1-6, in some example embodiments, the shaft 214 may include the end portions 402, 404, and a middle portion 602 that is between the end portions 402, 404. At least some portions of the end portions 402, 404 may be threaded for attachment to a threaded coupler such as the couplers 108, 110. The shaft 214 may include a groove 604 for attaching the retainer 204 to the shaft 214 to retain the bearing 202 in place at the end portion 112 of the housing 102. The shaft 214 may also include a groove 606 for attaching the retainer 204 to the shaft 214 to retain the bearing 202 in place at the end portion 114 of the housing 102.

[0050] In some example embodiments, the shaft 214 may be made from aluminum or another suitable material using methods known by those of ordinary skill in the art with the benefit of this disclosure. For example, the shaft 214 may be made using milling and/or other methods. In some alternative embodiments, the shaft 214 may have a different shape than shown without departing from the scope of this disclosure.

[0051] FIG. 7 illustrates the housing 102 of the high speed rotor dynamics centralizer of FIG. 1 according to an example embodiment. Referring to FIGS. 1-7, in some example embodiments, the housing 102 includes the end portions 112, 114 and the middle portion 116 that is between the end portions 112, 114. As described above, the flexure springs 104, 106, 302 may be attached to mounting structures, such as the mounting structures 118-124. To illustrate, in some example embodiments, the mounting structure 118 includes frames 702, 704 spaced from each other such that the attachment end portion 126 can be positioned between the frames 702, 704. The frame 702 may include an attachment hole 706, and the frame 704 may include an attachment hole 708. The clevis pin 130 or another attachment element may extend through the holes 706, 708 as well as the attachment hole 504 to attach the flexure spring 104 to the mounting structure 118. The mounting structure 118 may also include a ramp portion 710 coupled to the frames 702, 704.

[0052] In some example embodiments, the ramp portion 710 may be slated to facilitate the flow of fluid around the housing 102. The other mounting structures of the housing 102, such as the mounting structures 120-124, are substantially similar to the mounting structure 118.

[0053] In some example embodiments, the mounting structures at each end portion 112, 114 are spaced 120 degrees around the housing 102 when the centralizer 100 includes three mounting flexure springs. In general, the mounting structures are spaced equally around the housing 102. The spaces between adjacent mounting structures at the same end portion 112 or 114 of the housing 102 generally left unoccupied to facilitate the flow of fluid around the housing 102.

[0054] In some example embodiments, the shaft 214 extends through the cavity 714 of the housing 102 extend beyond the openings of the housing 102 at the end portions 112, 114 of the housing 102. For example, the end portion 402 of the shaft 214 shown more clearly in FIG. 4 may extend beyond the opening 712 of the housing 102 at the end portion 112 of the housing 102. The end portion 404 of the shaft 214 shown more clearly in FIG. 4 may similarly extend beyond the opening of the housing 102 at the end portion 114 of the housing 102.

[0055] In some alternative embodiments, the housing 102 may have a different shape than shown without departing from the scope of this disclosure. In some alternative embodiments, the mounting structures, such as the mounting structures 118-124, may have a different shape and/or configuration that shown without departing from the scope of this disclosure. In some alternative embodiments, the flexure springs of the centralizer 100 may be attached to the end portions 112, 114 of housing 102 in a different manner than described above without departing from the scope of this disclosure.

[0056] FIG. 8A illustrates a side view of a flexure spring 802 of the high speed rotor dynamics centralizer 100 of FIG. 1 according to an example embodiment, and FIG. 8B illustrates a top view of the flexure spring 802 of the high speed rotor dynamics centralizer 100 of FIG. 1 according to an example embodiment. For example, the flexure spring 802 may correspond to each of the flexure springs 104, 106, 302 of the centralizer 100. Referring to FIGS. 1-8B, in some example embodiments, the flexure spring 802 includes attachment end portions 804, 806 that are at opposite ends of the flexure spring 802. For example, the attachment end portions 804, 806 may be sized to fit between the frames of the respective attachment structures (e.g., the attachment structures 118, 120). The flexure spring 802 may include an elongated attachment hole 808 at the end portion 804 and a circular attachment hole 810 at the end portion 806. For example, the elongated attachment hole 808 may correspond to the elongated attachment hole 502 of the flexure spring 104. The elongated attachment hole 808 may be sized such that the clevis pin (e.g., the clevis pin 130) attaching the flexure spring 802 to a mounting structure (e.g., the mounting structure 118) of the housing 102 may be at different lateral positions in the elongated attachment hole 808 depending on the compression force applied on the flexure spring 802. The circular attachment hole 810 may be sized such that the clevis pin (e.g., the clevis pin 132) attaching the flexure spring 802 to the mounting structure (e.g., the mounting structure 120) is substantially laterally fixed in the circular attachment hole 810 regardless of the compression force applied on the flexure spring 802. Alternatively, the circular attachment hole 810 may be sized to allow some change of the lateral position of the clevis pin in the hole 810. In some alternative embodiments, the attachment hole 810 may be an elongated hole, and the attachment hole 808 may be a circular hole.

[0057] In some example embodiments, the flexure spring 802 may include narrow sections 818, 820 and a wide section 816 that is between the narrow sections 818, 820. The wide section 816 may include slots 822, 824, where a respective roller wheel can be positioned in each slot 822, 824. For example, the slot 822 may correspond to the slot 216 shown in FIG. 2. The wide portion 816 may also include attachment holes 812, 814 that are each connected to the respective one of the slots 822, 824. The wide portion 816 may also include corresponding attachment holes across the slots 822, 824. For example, a clevis pin (e.g., the clevis pin 138) can extend through the attachment hole 812 and the attachment hole across the slot 822 and through a hole in a roller wheel (e.g., the roller wheel 134) positioned in the slot 822 to rotatably attach the roller wheel to the flexure spring 802. Another clevis pin may similarly rotatably attach another roller wheel positioned in the slot 824. In general, a respective roller wheel (e.g., the roller wheel 134 or 136) is positioned in the slot 822, 824 such that the roller wheel is partially positioned outside of the slot 822, 824 at least on a side of the flexure spring 802 that would face a tubing when the centralizer 100 is placed in the tubing.

[0058] In some example embodiments, the narrow sections 818 are geometry primarily utilized and defined to obtain a specific spring rate, which dictates the amount of preload applied when the centralizer 100 is inserted into the tubing for any given application. The thicker the section 810, the higher the spring rate and thus the higher the preload. In some example embodiments, the narrow sections 818, 820 may also help reduce the resistance to the flow of fluid around the centralizer 100 in contrast to a flexure spring that is entirely or mostly as wide as the wide section 816. In general, the flexure spring 802 may have curved joints between adjoining surfaces where applicable to reduce resistance to fluid flow on the outside of the housing 102. In some alternative embodiments, the flexure spring 802 may have a different shape than shown without departing from the scope of this disclosure. In some alternative embodiments, the attachment holes 810-814 may each have a different shape than shown without departing from the scope of this disclosure.

[0059] FIGS. 9A-9C illustrate different views of a coupler 900 of the high speed rotor dynamics centralizer 100 of FIG. 1 according to an example embodiment. In particular, FIG. 9A shows a perspective view of the coupler 902, FIG. 9B shows a side view of the coupler 900, and FIG. 9C shows a cross-sectional view of the coupler 900. Referring to FIGS. 1-9C, in some example embodiments, the couple 900 may correspond to the couplers 108, 110 shown, for example, in FIG. 1. In some example embodiments, the coupler 900 may include notches 904 on the outside of the coupler that may facilitate grasping the coupler 900 for attaching or detaching the coupler to/from the housing 102 of the centralizer 100. The coupler 900 may also include threaded holes 902, 906 that are separated from each other by a middle section 908. For example, the shaft 214 shown in FIG. 2 may be attached to the coupler 902 by inserting the threaded end portion of the shaft 402 in the threaded hole 902, and a rod may be attached to the coupler 902 by inserting a threaded end portion of the rod in the threaded hole 906. Alternatively, the shaft 214 shown in FIG. 2 may be attached to the coupler 902 by inserting the threaded end portion of the shaft 402 in the threaded hole 906, and a rod may be attached to the coupler 902 by inserting a threaded end portion of the rod in the threaded hole 902.

[0060] In some alternative embodiments, instead of fully separating the attachment holes 902, 906 from each other, the middle section 908 may have include a channel 910 that provides a path for fluid to flow between the attachment holes 902, 906. For example, the shaft 214 may be hollow and may allow a fluid to flow therethrough, and the fluid flowing through the shaft 214 mass through the coupler 900 through the channel 910. Alternatively, or in addition, the channel 910 may allow some of the fluid flowing on the outside of the housing 102 to pass through the coupler 900.

[0061] In some alternative embodiments, the coupler 900 may have a different shape and/or different features than shown without departing from the scope of this disclosure. In some example embodiments, the threaded holes 902, 906 may be partially threaded. Alternatively, the threaded holes 902, 906 may be fully threaded. In some example embodiments, the threaded holes 902, 906 may be different sizes without departing from the scope of this disclosure.

[0062] FIG. 10 illustrates a clevis pin 1000 for use in the high speed rotor dynamics centralizer 100 of FIG. 1 according to an example embodiment. Referring to FIGS. 1 -10, in some example embodiments, the clevis pin 1000 may correspond to each clevis pins of the centralizer 100, such as the clevis pins shown in FIGS. 1-5. In some example embodiments, the clevis pin 1000 may include end portions 1002, 1004 at opposite ends of the clevis pin 1000 separated from a middle potion 1006 of the clevis pin 1000 by grooves 1008, 1110. For example, respective retainers may be inserted in the grooves 1008, 1110 to retain the clevis pin 1000 after the clevis pin 1000 is inserted in one or more attachment holes of a mounting structure (e.g., the mounting structure 118) or a flexure spring (e.g., the flexure spring 104). In some alternative embodiments, the clevis pin 1000 may have a different shape than shown without departing from the scope of this disclosure. In some alternative embodiments, the clevis pin 1000 may have a different end portion than shown without departing from the scope of this disclosure.

[0063] FIG. 11 illustrates a bearing 1100 for use in the high speed rotor dynamics centralizer 100 of FIG. 1 according to another example embodiment. Referring to FIGS. 1-11, in some example embodiments, the bearing 1100 may be a journal bearing that is a different type from the bearing 202 shown, for example, in FIG. 2. For example, the bearing 202 may be a plain bearing, and the bearing 1100 may be used instead of the bearing 202 without departing from the scope of this disclosure. To illustrate, the bearing 1100 may be fixedly attached to the housing 102 in the cavity of the housing 102 at the respective end portion 112, 114 of the housing 102 such that the shaft 214 extends through the opening 1102 of the bearing 1100 and rotates relative to the bearing 1100. In some example embodiments, the bearing 1100 may enable use of the centralizer 100 in a relatively higher temperature but lower speed environment in contrast to the bearing 202. The bearing 1100 may be made from a suitable material, such as graphite or uniform solid metal and graphite combinations as can be readily understood by those of ordinary skill in the art with the benefit of this disclosure.

[0064] FIG. 12 illustrates the high speed rotor dynamics centralizer 100 of FIG. 1 coupled to rotatable rods 1202, 1204 according to an example embodiment. Referring to FIGS. 1-12, as described above, the centralizer 100 may include the couplers 108, 110 at opposite ends of the centralizer 100. For example, the rod 1202 is coupled to the coupler 110, and the rod 1204 is coupled to the coupler 108. To illustrate, the rods 1202, 1204 may have threaded end portions that are screwed into the respective coupler 110, 108. The rods 1202, 1204 are coupled to the centralizer 100 by the couplers 110, 108 such that the rods 1202, 1204 rotate along with the couplers 108, 110 while the housing 102 remains rotationally static. The flexure springs 104, 106, 302 are attached to the housing 102 at the end portions 112, 114 and spaced from the middle portion 116.

[0065] In some example embodiments, the rods 1202, 1204 may be standard rods or may be non-standard (e.g., tubular/hollow, pre-balanced, etc.), and the couplers 108, 1 10 may be designed to accommodate various connection types (e.g., API, Proprietary Service, etc.). As described above, the shaft 214 may also be hollow such that the rods 1202, 1204 are fluidly coupled through the shaft 214 and the couplers 108, 110. In some alternative embodiments, the rods 1202, 1204 may be attached to the centralizer 100 in a different manner than shown without departing from the scope of this disclosure. [0066] FIG. 13 illustrates the high speed rotor dynamics centralizer 100 of FIG. 1 coupled to rotatable rods 1202, 1204 and positioned in a tubing 1302 according to an example embodiment. Referring to FIGS. 1-13, in some example embodiments, the flexure springs 104, 106, 302 are attached to the housing 102 of the centralizer 100 to elastically deflect upon the insertion of the centralizer 100 into the tubing 1302. To illustrate, the tubing 1302 has an inner diameter that results in the roller wheels attached to the flexure springs 104, 106, 302 coming in contact with the inner surface of the tubing such that the flexure springs 104, 106, 302 are deflected toward the middle portion 116 of the housing 102. The deflection of the flexure springs toward the middle section 116 causes a preload force to be induced between each flexure spring/roller wheels assembly and the tubing 1302. The preload forces result in balanced normal forces that centralize the housing 102 and the rods 1202, 1204 with respect to the tubing 1302.

[0067] In some example embodiments, the longitudinal orientation of the roller wheels with respect to the tubing 1302 resists the rotational motion of the housing 102 and the flexure springs 104, 106, 302 with respect to the tubing while facilitating the axial insertion and movement of the centralizer 100 through the tubing 1302. To illustrate, the preload forces on the flexure springs 104, 106, 302 result in friction between the roller wheels attached to the flexure springs 104, 106, 302 and the tubing 1302, where the friction resists the rotational motion of the housing 102 and the flexure springs 104, 106, 302 with respect to the tubing 1302. As can be seen in FIG. 13, the roller wheels (e.g., the roller wheels 134, 136) of the centralizer 100 can remain spaced from the middle section 116 of the housing 102 while the flexure springs 104, 106, 302 are preloaded as a result of insertion in the tubing 1302.

[0068] Because the shaft 214 is rotatable relative to the housing 102 that can remain generally rotationally static and because the shaft 214 is attached to the couplers 108, 110 that are also coupled to the rods 1202, 1204, the shaft 214 rotates along with the rods 1202, 1204. The shaft 214 and the rods 1202, 1204 may be coupled to couplers 108, 110 to rotate in a desired direction.

[0069] In some example embodiments, multiple ones of the centralizer 100 may be placed in the tubing 1302, where adjacent ones are connected by a respect rod or rod strings and spaced from each other, for example, in a range of about 5 feet to about 30 feet.

[0070] FIG. 14 illustrates a close-up view of a portion C of the high speed rotor dynamics centralizer shown in FIG. 13 according to an example embodiment. Referring to FIGS. 1-14, in some example embodiments, the bearing 202, the retaining ring 204, the retaining ring 206, the seal backing ring 208, the shaft seal 210, and the retaining ring 212 are positioned at the end portion 114 of the housing 102 in a similar manner as their counterpart components are positioned at the end portion 112 of the housing 102. As more clearly shown in FIG. 14, the retaining ring 204 is positioned around the end portion of the shaft 214 to retain the bearing 202 in place.

[0071] In some example embodiments, the retaining rings 206, 212, the seal backing ring 208, and the shaft seal 210 may also be at least partially positioned around the end portion of the shaft 214. The retaining rings 206, 212 may retain the seal backing ring 208 and the shaft seal 210 in place. The cavity 714 of the housing 102 may be hermetically sealed by the shaft seal 210, and the cavity 714 may serve as a reservoir for containing a lubricant to lubricate the bearing 202. As described above, in some alternative embodiments, a different type of bearing may be used than the bearing 202 without departing from the scope of this disclosure.

[0072] As more clearly shown in FIG. 14, the roller wheel 136 is in contact with the inner surface of the tubing 1302 such that the flexure spring 104 is deflected/compressed (thus, preloaded) toward the middle portion 116. Although the roller wheel 136 is in contact with the inner surface of the tubing 1302, the roller wheel 136 remains spaced from the middle portion 116. At least the roller wheels that are attached to the other flexure springs 106, 302 and that are circularly aligned with the roller wheel 136 are similarly in contact with the inner surface of the tubing 1302 such that the flexure springs 106, 302 are deflected/compressed toward the middle portion 116.

[0073] In some example embodiments, the rods 1202, 1204 may be attached to the shaft 214 using means other than or in addition to the couplers 108, 110 without departing from the scope of this disclosure. In some alternative embodiments, the centralizer 100 may include more than three flexure springs without departing from the scope of this disclosure. In some alternative embodiments, the flexure springs 104, 106, 302 may be attached to the housing 102 in a different manner than shown in the figures without departing from the scope of this disclosure.

[0074] FIGS. 15A and 15B illustrate a high speed rotor dynamics centralizer 1500 according to another example embodiment. In general, the centralizer 1500 is substantially similar to the centralizer 100. To illustrate, in some example embodiments, the centralizer 1500 includes a housing 1502, flexure springs 1504, 1506, 1516 that are attached to the housing 1502. Two roller wheels may be rotatably attached to each of the flexure springs 1504, 1506, 1516 in a similar manner as described with respect to the centralizer 100. For example, the roller wheels may correspond to the roller wheels 134, 136 described above with respect to FIG. 1. Each roller wheel may be positioned in a respective slot, similar to the slots 822, 824 shown in FIG. 8, and may be attached to the respective the flexure spring 1504, 1506, 1516. To illustrate, clevis pins may be used to attach the roller wheels to flexure springs 1504, 1506, 1516 in a similar manner as described with respect to the centralizer 100. Alternatively, the roller wheels may be attached to flexure springs 1504, 1506, 1516 using other means as can be contemplated by those of ordinary skill in the art with the benefit of this disclosure.

[0075] As shown in FIGS. 15A and 15B, the roller wheels may extend beyond the flexure springs 1504, 1506, 1516 such that the flexure springs 1504, 1506, 1516 are in contact with the inner surface of a tubing, such as the tubing 1302, and such that the flexure springs 1504, 1506, 1516 are not in direct contact with the tubing when the centralizer 1500 is positioned in the tubing. As shown in FIGS. 15A and 15B, the roller wheels are oriented to facilitate the insertion of the centralizer 1500 into a tubing and to resist the rotation of the housing 1502 and the flexure springs 1504, 1506, 1516 relative to the tubing in a similar manner as described above with respect to the roller wheels of the centralizer 100. The flexure springs 1504, 1506, 1516 may be shaped to obtain a specific spring rate, which dictates the amount of preload applied when the centralizer 1500 is inserted into a tubing such that the roller wheels and the flexure springs 1504, 1506, 1516 are pushed toward the housing 1502 of the centralizer 1500 by the tubing.

[0076] In some example embodiments, the flexure springs 1504, 1506, 1516 are 120 degrees apart around the housing 1502. In contrast to the flexure springs of the centralizer 100 of FIG. 1, the flexure springs 1504, 1506, 1516 may be integrally formed with the housing 1502 instead of being attached to the housing 1502 using clevis pins or other similar attachment devices. For example, the flexure springs 1504, 1506, 1516 may be formed such that the middle portion of each flexure spring 1504, 1506, 1516 is spaced from the housing 1502 while end portions of each flexure springs 1504, 1506, 1516 are attached to housing 1502. The shape and thickness of portions of the flexure springs 1504, 1506, 1516 may be designed such that each the flexure spring 1504, 1506, 1516 as a desired spring rate.

[0077] In some example embodiments, a shaft 1510 may extend through a cavity of the housing 1502, where end portions of the shaft 1510 are positioned outside of the housing 1502 and a middle portion of the shaft 1510 is inside the housing 1502. The shaft 1510 may be attached to a coupler 1508 at one end of the shaft 1510. For example, the coupler 1508 may correspond to the coupler 108 shown in FIG. 1. To illustrate, a rod 1512 may be attached to the coupler 1508 in a similar manner as described with respect to the centralizer 100. In contrast to the centralizer 100, the shaft 1510 may include a coupler end that functions as a coupler, where a rod 1514 is attached to the coupler end of the shaft 1510 instead of to a standalone coupler. The shaft 1510 may be coupled to the rods 1512, 1514 by the coupler 1508 and directly such that the shaft 1510 rotates along with the rods 1512, 1514. To illustrate, bearings corresponding to the bearings of the centralizer 100 may be positioned in the housing 1502 such that the shaft 1510 extends through the bearings, where the shaft 1510 rotates relative to the housing 1502. The cavity of the housing 1502 may contain a lubricant to lubricate the bearings. For example, the cavity of the housing 1502 may be hermetically sealed by shaft seals in a similar manner as described with respect to the centralizer 100. In some example embodiments, the shaft 1510 may include a pathway for placing the lubricant in the cavity of the housing 1502 after the shaft 1510 is positioned in the housing 1502 as shown in FIGS. 15A and 15B.

[0078] In general, the components of the centralizer 1500 may be made from the same material as described with respect to the centralizer 100. In some example embodiments, some of the components of the centralizer 1500 may have different shapes than shown without departing from the scope of this disclosure. In some alternative embodiments, some of the components of the centralizer 1500 may be used instead of or in addition to the components of the centralizer 100 without departing from the scope of this disclosure. In some example embodiments, the centralizer 1500 may be used instead of the centralizer 100 without departing from the scope of this disclosure.

[0079] Referring to FIGS. 1-15B, by using the combination of the flexure springs, bearings, and roller wheels as described above, the centralizer 100, 1500 can be used to center rods/rod strings in a tubing such as the tubing 1302. By providing open spaces between and around the flexure springs, the centralizer 100, 1500 may present less resistance to the flow of fluid around the centralizer 100, 1500 in contrast to a centralizer that relies on vanes to achieve the centering of attached rods. Further, in contrast to a centralizer that uses rigid vanes for centering rods/rod strings, the compliancy and design flexibility of the flexure springs of the centralizer 100, 1500 enable the centralizer 100, 1500 to be used with various diameter tubing. In contrast to spring bow-spring centralizers, which are primarily used to keep casing in the center of a wellbore or additional casing prior to and during a cement job, the centralizer 100, 1500 can be used to center rods/rod strings in applications that require relatively high speed rotation of the rods/rod strings as they incorporate aforementioned housing, bearing and rolling elements. The centralizer 100, 1500 may be used in various applications including oil and gas related operations.

[0080] Although some embodiments have been described herein in detail, the descriptions are by way of example. The features of the embodiments described herein are representative and, in alternative embodiments, certain features, elements, and/or steps may be added or omitted. Additionally, modifications to aspects of the embodiments described herein may be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the following claims, the scope of which are to be accorded the broadest interpretation so as to encompass modifications and equivalent structures.