Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Chemical Enables Researchers to Extract Significant Oil Deposits; Leaves Positive Environmental Footprint

31.01.2013
Chemicals found in common household items, like toothpaste and soap, are proving to be the right formula to safely extract up to 70 percent of the oil still embedded in high-salt oil reservoirs in the United States.

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
Further information:
http://www.ou.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Despite government claims, orangutan populations have not increased. Call for better monitoring
06.11.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Increasing frequency of ocean storms could alter kelp forest ecosystems
30.10.2018 | University of Virginia

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: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

The dawn of a new era for genebanks - molecular characterisation of an entire genebank collection

13.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Fish recognize their prey by electric colors

13.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Ultrasound Connects

13.11.2018 | Awards Funding

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>