Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Use of microfluidic chips a first in bitumen-gas analysis

29.02.2012
Process could save time and money for oil/gas industry

A University of Toronto research team has developed a process to analyze the behavior of bitumen in reservoirs using a microfluidic chip, a tool commonly associated with the field of medical diagnostics. The process may reduce the cost and time of analyzing bitumen-gas interaction in heavy oil and bitumen reservoirs.

Dr. David Sinton, Professor with the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University of Toronto, and postdoctoral researcher Dr. Hossein Fadaei are using the chips to examine the way highly pressurized CO2 behaves when injected into bitumen. The new method, reported in the journal Energy & Fuels, could streamline the way fossil energy companies measure the diffusion of gases in heavier oils like bitumen.

"To my knowledge, this is the first application of microfluidics in the study of gas-bitumen diffusion," says Sinton. His project was funded in part by Carbon Management Canada, a national Networks of Centres of Excellence funding research to reduce CO2 emissions in the fossil energy industry and other large-scale emitters.

Bitumen and heavy oil are difficult to extract from reservoirs because they are thick and do not flow easily. There are several methods of extraction, one of which uses CO2-rich gas injections which helps liquify the bitumen for easier extraction. This process can supplement the steam-injection method which requires heavy inputs of energy and water, and it presents opportunities for sequestration of CO2 in the reservoir.

But, says Sinton, before companies pump CO2 into reservoirs they need to first determine how the CO2 and oil will behave under specific pressures and in specific rock formations. Conventional methods of analysis are conducted using about .5 L of bitumen and a process that can take hours or even days for a single test result.

Sinton and his colleagues use a small glass microchip to replicate a pore within a rock reservoir. The channels in the pore are 50 microns wide, or about half the diameter of a human hair. The device is initially filled with CO2 at low pressure and a small sample of bitumen is injected into the centre of the chip. High pressure CO2 is then injected at both ends of the chip and the swelling of the oil is measured over time.

"This takes 10 minutes and uses a nanoliter plug of sample. If you can do a test in a few minutes and perform many tests in parallel, that's a lot cheaper," he points out. "The experimental setup is also quite simple compared to existing methods."

The method developed by Sinton shows potential as a rapid, reliable approach that could be used by both researchers and the oil and gas industry. And because it uses such small samples, the method could also be employed using hazardous solvents.

Next steps involve studying many types of oil or combinations of diffusion gases at one time in one chip; expanding temperature and pressure ranges of tests to match the variety of conditions found down-hole and in bitumen processing, and adapting the method to work with less viscous oils and other fluids such as brine. Diffusion of CO2 into brine at high pressures is of particular interest for carbon sequestration applications.

Sinton is actively looking for industry partners. For information, he can be reached at sinton@mie.utoronto.ca.

Media Contact:

Ruth Klinkhammer,
Communications Director
Carbon Management Canada
403 210-7879
ruth.klinkhammer@cmc-nce.ca
Dr. David Sinton
SintonLab, University of Toronto
sinton@mie.utoronto.ca
About Carbon Management Canada (www.cmc-nce.ca)
Carbon Management Canada, a federal Networks of Centres of Excellence, is a national research network supported by the Canadian and Alberta governments as well as industry. CMC comprises over 150 academic researchers in 25 Canadian universities, all working to develop the technologies, the knowledge and the personnel to reduce carbon emissions in the fossil energy industry and other large-scale emitters. CMC currently funds 36 research projects for a total of $18 million.

Ruth Klinkhammer | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cmc-nce.ca

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Scientists print sensors on gummi candy: creating microelectrode arrays on soft materials
21.06.2018 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Electron sandwich doubles thermoelectric performance
20.06.2018 | Hokkaido University

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Better model of water under extreme conditions could aid understanding of Earth's mantle

21.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

What are the effects of coral reef marine protected areas?

21.06.2018 | Life Sciences

The Janus head of the South Asian monsoon

21.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>