Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Pitt Engineers to Design Affordable CO2 Thickener to Augment Oil Extraction

17.10.2012
Crude oil extraction could be improved significantly and accessible domestic oil reserves could be expanded with an economical CO2 thickener being developed by University of Pittsburgh engineers, thanks to a $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Current oil-extraction methods across the United States involve oil being “pushed” from underground layers of porous sandstone or limestone reservoirs using a first-water-then-CO2 method known as the water-alternating-gas method.

CO2—which is obtained from natural CO2 reservoirs and pipelined to oil reservoirs—is an ideal candidate for oil extraction given its ability to push and dissolve oil from underground layers of porous rock. However, its viscosity (or thickness) is too low to efficiently extract oil. As such, it tends to “finger” through the oil rather than sweep oil forward toward the production well. This process, “viscous fingering,” results in oil production companies recovering only a small fraction of the oil that’s in a field.

During the late 1990s, a team at Pitt was the first to demonstrate that it was possible to design additives that could greatly enhance CO2’s viscosity at low concentrations, although the compounds were both costly and environmentally problematic.

“The thickeners we developed years ago were too expensive for wide use,” said principal coinvestigator Eric Beckman, George M. Bevier Professor of Engineering in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering. “So, in this proposal, we’re looking at designing candidates that can do the job at a reasonable cost.”

Beckman and Robert Enick, principal coinvestigator and Bayer Professor and Vice Chair for Research in Pitt’s Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, intend to build upon earlier Pitt models of CO2 thickeners, but this time with a more affordable design that could cost only several dollars per pound. Ideally, their small molecule thickener would be able to increase the viscosity of pure CO2 100 times—something that hasn’t previously been accomplished.

“An affordable CO2 thickener would represent a transformational advance in enhanced oil recovery,” said Enick. “More than 90 percent of CO2 injection projects in the U.S. employ the WAG method to hinder the fingering of the CO2. However, if a thickener could be identified that could increase the viscosity of the CO2 to a value comparable to that of the oil in the underground layers of rock, then the fingering would be inhibited, the need to inject water would be eliminated, and more oil would be recovered more quickly using less CO2.”

“It’s clear there exists a very wide market for this type of CO2 thickener,” said Beckman. “It’s been long recognized as a game-changing transformative technology because it has the potential to increase oil recovery while eliminating water injection altogether.”

This $1.3 million grant from the Department of Energy is through the National Energy Technology Laboratory under the category of “Unconventional Gas and Oil Technologies.”

10/15/12/mab/cjhm
University Units
Swanson School of Engineering

B. Rose Huber | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.pitt.edu

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Six-legged robots faster than nature-inspired gait
17.02.2017 | Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

nachricht Did you know that IR heat plays a central role in the production of chocolates?
14.02.2017 | Heraeus Noblelight GmbH

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: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Biocompatible 3-D tracking system has potential to improve robot-assisted surgery

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Real-time MRI analysis powered by supercomputers

17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Antibiotic effective against drug-resistant bacteria in pediatric skin infections

17.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>