The Bureau of Economic Geology The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences
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BEG Shale Gas Production
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A decade ago, the concept of developing nanotech-nology to explore for and recover oil and gas was just that—a concept. Fast-forward to today, and researchers from institutions around the world are closer than ever to making the products of their intricate research into nanotech-nology commercially viable. The Advanced Energy Consortium (AEC), founded in 2008 by the Bureau of Economic Geology at The University of Texas at Austin, has invested over $40 million from its industry partners into remarkably productive nano-technology research. The AEC coordinates the participation of a select group of industry partners (BG, BP, Petrobras, Repsol, Schlumberger, Shell, Statoil, and Total) interested in this cutting-edge technology. Their partner investments support diverse but related research efforts across the globe; over 30 universities and research institutions have received AEC funding over the years. At the AEC’s 10th All Projects Review, held recently in Houston, 145 project principal investigators, industry representatives, graduate students, and interested researchers were privileged to hear presentations of findings demonstrating how dramatically these nanotechnologies have evolved. More than 145 representatives from industry and academia attended AEC's 10th annual All Projects Review.  Click to see full image.The progressive transitions from basic research to real-world applications are notable, as are the strong cooperative efforts among research entities that have developed over the years, with project teams building on each other’s research products. Research areas are now divided into “use cases”—subsurface solutions for improving the profitability of a specific oil and gas application that include sufficient detail for guiding the development of a demonstration prototype. The use cases discussed at the All Projects Review included tiny downhole semiconductors, time-released delivery of nanosensors, smarter downhole surfactants, and nano-particles to illuminate the subsurface. All this prototype research must take into account survivability at the tremendous downhole temperatures and pressures encountered in oil and gas reservoirs, as well as considering whether the prototype is commercially scalable and economically feasible. These are tough obstacles to overcome, but there is broad confidence that commercial applications resulting from AEC research are just over the horizon. For information about participating in the Advanced Energy Consortium, please contact Jay Kipper.
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