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 Agricultural insecticide contamination threatens U.S. surface water integrity at the national scale
06.12.2018 | Universität Koblenz-Landau

nachricht Improving hydropower through long-range drought forecasts
06.12.2018 | Schweizerischer Nationalfonds SNF

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: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

Im Focus: Three components on one chip

Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.

Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

New discoveries predict ability to forecast dementia from single molecule

12.12.2018 | Health and Medicine

CCNY-Yale researchers make shape shifting cell breakthrough

12.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Pain: Perception and motor impulses arise in the brain independently of one another

12.12.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>