Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Engineers to design affordable CO2 thickener to augment oil extraction

Date:
October 16, 2012
Source:
University of Pittsburgh
Summary:
Crude oil extraction could be improved significantly and accessible domestic oil reserves could be expanded with an economical CO2 thickener being developed by engineers.

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.

Related Articles


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."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pittsburgh. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Pittsburgh. "Engineers to design affordable CO2 thickener to augment oil extraction." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121016132111.htm>.
University of Pittsburgh. (2012, October 16). Engineers to design affordable CO2 thickener to augment oil extraction. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121016132111.htm
University of Pittsburgh. "Engineers to design affordable CO2 thickener to augment oil extraction." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121016132111.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) EU leaders achieve a show of unity by striking a compromise deal on carbon emissions. But David Cameron's bid to push back EU budget contributions gets a slap in the face as the European Commission demands an extra 2bn euros. David Pollard reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) A rare tornado ripped roofs off buildings, uprooted trees and shattered windows Thursday afternoon in the southwest Washington city of Longview, but there were no reports of injuries. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Newsy (Oct. 24, 2014) Lava from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island has accelerated as it travels toward a town called Pahoa. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins