Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors


Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Rensselaer Researchers Secure $1 Million Grant To Develop Oil Exploration Game-Changer

Nikhil Koratkar
Nikhil Koratkar

Abstract:
Nanoengineered Coating Uses Naturally Occurring Water Deep in Earth to Power Underground Oil and Gas Sensors

Rensselaer Researchers Secure $1 Million Grant To Develop Oil Exploration Game-Changer

Troy, NY | Posted on March 27th, 2010

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Professor Nikhil Koratkar is leading a $1 million study to develop new coatings for nanosensors that could lead to more accurate and efficient oil exploration.

Koratkar and colleagues are investigating how the flow of water, steam, or certain gasses over surfaces coated with carbon nanotubes or graphene can generate small amounts of electricity. The researchers seek to explain this phenomenon — which has been observed but is not yet fully understood — and use their findings to create tiny self-powered devices that travel through naturally occurring cracks deep in the earth and can help uncover hidden pockets of oil and natural gas.

"Water and gases are naturally moving deep within crevices in the earth, so we are investigating the best way to harvest that energy and put it to use," said Koratkar, professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering in Rensselaer's School of Engineering. "It has been shown that the flow of water and gases over certain nanomaterials creates an electric charge, but we're still not quite sure why. Once we fully understand the reason, we should be able to optimize the process and create a practical, useful device."

The three-year study, funded by the Advanced Energy Consortium, is titled "Nanofluidic Power Generation Using One-Dimensional (Carbon Nanotube) and Two-Dimensional (Graphene) Nanomaterials."

Hydrocarbon exploration is an expensive process that involves drilling deep down in the earth to detect the presence of oil or natural gas. Koratkar said oil and gas companies would like to augment this process by sending out large numbers of nanoscale sensors into new and existing drill wells. These sensors would travel laterally through the earth, carried by the naturally occurring water and gas flowing through the network of cracks that exists underneath the earth's surface. Oil companies would no longer be limited to vertical exploration, and the data collected from the sensors would arm these firms with more information for deciding the best locations to drill.

A key challenge to realizing these nanosensors, Koratkar said, is that they are autonomous and therefore need to be self-powered. Recent studies show that the motion of water over carbon nanotubes creates small amounts of electricity—but far less than needed to power the sensors. Koratkar's team is investigating how to optimize this process and exploit it to generate electricity on the order of milliwatts. In addition to coating a nanosensor with carbon nanotubes, the team will also look at using coatings made from graphene, a single-atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms arranged like a nanoscale chain-link fence.

Conventional thinking is that free electrons on the surface of carbon nanotubes and graphene can interact with ions in the flowing water. The ions can drag the electrons in the flow direction, creating an electric current. It is curious, Koratkar said, that flowing steam over carbon nanotubes creates a voltage, even though steam does not contain ions—a mystery the new study plans to tackle. Additionally, his team will investigate how water flowing inside of carbon nanotubes, and inside of layered graphene, can be harnessed to create additional voltage.

"We don't fully understand everything about this process, but once we do, it should lead to exciting new possibilities for nanocoatings that can power sensors by harvesting energy from their environment," Koratkar said. "This should help the drilling companies locate and identify new pockets of oil and natural gas that have so far gone unnoticed."

Rensselaer will receive $700,000 of the grant, and $300,000 will go to researchers at Rice University. Koratkar's co-investigators are Yunfeng Shi, assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Rensselaer; and Pulickel Ajayan, the Benjamin M. and Mary Greenwood Anderson Professor of Engineering at Rice.

####

About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is the nation’s oldest technological university. The university offers degrees from five schools: Engineering; Science; Architecture; Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences; and the Lally School of Management & Technology; as well as an interdisciplinary degree in Information Technology.

Institute programs serve undergraduates, graduate students, and working professionals around the world. The Institute’s long-standing reputation drew students from 39 states in addition to Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and 13 foreign countries in the fall of 2009.

Rensselaer offers more than 145 programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Students are encouraged to work in interdisciplinary programs that allow them to combine scholarly work from several departments or schools. The university provides rigorous, engaging, interactive learning environments and campus-wide opportunities for leadership, collaboration, and creativity.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Michael Mullaney
Phone: (518) 276-6161

Copyright © Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

A 'smart dress' for oil-degrading bacteria July 24th, 2016

New remote-controlled microrobots for medical operations July 23rd, 2016

New superconducting coil improves MRI performance: UH-led research offers higher resolution, shorter scan time July 23rd, 2016

New probe developed for improved high resolution measurement of brain temperature: Improved accuracy could allow researchers to measure brain temperature in times of trauma when small deviations in temperature can lead to additional brain injury July 23rd, 2016

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Quantum drag:University of Iowa physicist says current in one iron magnetic sheet can create quantized spin waves in another, separate sheet July 22nd, 2016

Weird quantum effects stretch across hundreds of miles July 21st, 2016

Scientists glimpse inner workings of atomically thin transistors July 21st, 2016

The birth of quantum holography: Making holograms of single light particles! July 21st, 2016

Academic/Education

News from Quorum: The College of New Jersey use the Quorum Cryo-SEM preparation system in a project to study ice crystals in high altitude clouds July 19th, 2016

Leti and Korea Institute of Science and Technology to Explore Collaboration on Advanced Technologies for Digital Era July 14th, 2016

SUNY Poly Celebrates Its 10th Year Exhibiting at SEMICON West with Cutting Edge Developments in Integrated Photonics and Power Electronics July 8th, 2016

FEI and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology Establish New Electron Microscopy ‘Centre of Excellence’: Centre of Excellence involves materials and life sciences research and technical collaboration July 5th, 2016

Nanotubes/Buckyballs/Fullerenes

Easier, faster, cheaper: A full-filling approach to making nanotubes of consistent quality: Approach opens a straightforward route for engineering the properties of single-wall carbon nanotubes July 19th, 2016

Sensing trouble: A new way to detect hidden damage in bridges, roads: University of Delaware engineers devise new method for monitoring structural health July 8th, 2016

Wireless, wearable toxic-gas detector: Inexpensive sensors could be worn by soldiers to detect hazardous chemical agents July 4th, 2016

Nanotubes' 'stuffing' as is: A scientist from the Lomonosov Moscow State University studied the types of carbon nanotubes' 'stuffing' June 2nd, 2016

Announcements

A 'smart dress' for oil-degrading bacteria July 24th, 2016

New remote-controlled microrobots for medical operations July 23rd, 2016

New superconducting coil improves MRI performance: UH-led research offers higher resolution, shorter scan time July 23rd, 2016

New probe developed for improved high resolution measurement of brain temperature: Improved accuracy could allow researchers to measure brain temperature in times of trauma when small deviations in temperature can lead to additional brain injury July 23rd, 2016

Energy

Researchers discover key mechanism for producing solar cells: Better understanding of perovskite solar cells could boost widespread use July 21st, 2016

The future of perovskite solar cells has just got brighter -- come rain or shine: Korean researchers at POSTECH have succeeded in developing high-efficiency perovskite solar cells that retain excellent performance over two months in a very humid condition July 21st, 2016

Scientists develop way to upsize nanostructures into light, flexible 3-D printed materials: Virginia Tech, Livermore National Lab researchers develop hierarchical 3-D printed metallic materials July 20th, 2016

Rice's 'antenna-reactor' catalysts offer best of both worlds: Technology marries light-harvesting nanoantennas to high-reaction-rate catalysts July 18th, 2016

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







Car Brands
Buy website traffic