Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Sealing fissures with water

23.04.2007
A special water mixture prevents sand from throwing a spanner in the oil production works. The mixture can also be used to seal tunnel wall fissures and stop erosion.

The method has been developed at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), and involves pumping water with various additives into the relevant area. It could be a well at a subsea oil field, or a tunnel wall. These additives are environmentally-friendly, inorganic components and a chemical catalyst.

”The system consists of two solutions – one carbonate source and one calcium source – which are mixed half and half. Gradually, over 24 hours, calcite – limestone – precipitates from the mixture,” explains the man behind the method, Professor Terje Østvold at the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

This limestone will seal fissures in rocks and bind grains of sand.

Calcite is a type of calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is highly insoluble in water – which is wonderfully demonstrated by the magnificent formations in stalactite caves.

More oil

Oil fields are depleted gradually, which results in lower pressure. To recover more oil, the producers pump in water to increase the pressure. This method has a significant problem attached to it: In many reservoirs, the water will transport sand into the production plant. The solution currently being used to minimize the problem is mechanical: Some sort of grid is placed in front of the drill pipe exit to prevent sand from entering, but it is not particularly effective.

”Gradually, the amount of sand makes the recovery impossible and unprofitable. New wells must be drilled, but that could be so expensive that recovering the remaining oil does not pay off," says Professor Østvold.

However, when Østvold’s chemical water mixture enters the oil reservoir, calcium carbonate crystals will come between the grains of sand and bind them together. That makes the sand unable to move. The oil may flow through the sand without bringing it into the pipe.

Sealing leakages

The water mixture can also be used to seal tunnels more efficiently and environmentally-friendly than today.

”The current method involves injecting concrete into fissures in the rock while working the tunnels. The carbonate and calcium water is a lot more liquid than concrete. By injecting this mixture into the rock wall on the inside of the tunnel, the calcium carbonate crystals will fill the narrow, water-bearing fissures in the rock and seal them," says Professor Østvold.

“It is too soon to say whether the new method will be less expensive than the current one, but it is definitely a possibility,” claims Østvold.

The Norwegian Public Roads Administration is particularly interested in the discovery, and recently invited the researchers from NTNU to test the method in the Eiksund tunnel in Møre.

”It worked perfectly,” confirms Professor Østvold. ”We achieved a leakage reduction of more than eighty per cent.”

Binding the soil

It appears that this method could also be used to reduce soil erosion caused by wind and water. Soil erosion is an enormous global problem.

”It turns out that soil can be stabilized in the same way as sand, with environmentally-friendly minerals that also function as fertilizers. If we water the soil in autumn with water containing chemicals and a catalyst, we may produce minerals that bind the soil particles together. That way we may protect the soil from erosion while waiting for the next growth period,” says Professor Østvold.

Patent

Østvold has developed the new method in cooperation with the spin-off firm Impermeable AS that he established a few years ago. Together with research fellows and students at NTNU and the University of Patras, Greece, he further developed the method.

He says that commercial actors are planning to test the method at oil fields in the North Sea. The worldwide engineering company M-I provides technology services for oil companies all over the world. Its Norwegian subsidiary M-I Production Chemicals is genuinely interested in adopting the method, and Østvold has also met with British Petroleum in London for the same reason.

By Tore Oksholen

Nina Tveter | alfa
Further information:
http://www.ntnu.no

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon
09.12.2016 | Wildlife Conservation Society

nachricht Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>