With controversy surrounding advance recovery methods like fracking, a team from the University of Oklahoma Institute for Applied Surfactant Research – Jeff Harwell, Ben Shiau and Bruce Roberts – has formulated an environmentally sound compound that increases oil flow in previously pumped reservoirs.
By using a surfactant that decreases the surface tension, oil is released from the rock so it can move with the injected water and be pushed to the production wells safely.
Secondary recovery methods, such as water flooding and hydraulic fracturing, are used to recover oil left behind by previously pumped reservoirs. The methods drive trapped oil toward the drill hole, but when the injected water reaches the production wells, most of the oil remains trapped in the rock, much like a sponge traps water.
“Our surfactants replace the crude oil within the rock with harmless compounds like brine that maintain the integrity of the rock formation,” Harwell said. “The ingredients we use are in things that people use every day to bathe, brush their teeth and wash their car. The chemicals we inject are not near the threat or hazard level of the compounds in the oil we are removing from the reservoir.”
The OU teams’ surfactant increases flooding efficiency even at concentrated levels of salinity. The OU team is the only group in the United States that focuses its work at such high salt levels.
“Most research focuses on salinity around a 3 to 5 percent threshold,” Harwell said. “We recently successfully formulated a surfactant system for up to 26 percent salinity.”
The OU research currently is focused on oil in Oklahoma’s Pennsylvanian aged sands that span much of the state and typically contain high concentrations of salt, ranging from 15 to 25 percent.
“That means there is a huge area with a tremendous amount of oil trapped in these formations,” Harwell said. “The Oklahoma Geological Survey estimates there were 84 billion barrels of original oil in these reservoirs and we have only extracted about 15 billion.”
The research team has successfully tested its surfactant formulations in several single-well operations and is now moving to small, multiple-well testing. If successful, the surfactant would enable small oil producers to recover more oil efficiently and cost effectively, while leaving the formations environmentally sound.
Karen Kelly | Newswise
Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel
Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.
Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...
In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research
20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy