The Advanced Energy Consortium The Bureau of Economic Geology The University of Texas at Austin


Research feeds the AEC Application Pipeline

The Advanced Energy Consortium (AEC) research is member driven and focuses on developing applications that members can utilize in optimizing reservoir development and performance (i.e. hydro-fracking, enhanced oil recovery, water-flooding, etc). Our technical research categories (or "Thrusts") include Mobility, Contrast Agents, Nanomaterial Sensors, and Micro-Fabricated Sensors. Each category integrates projects that can be used for problem-solving in oil and gas reservoirs.

Mobility - The collective movement of nanoparticles through porous media, reflecting the transport and retardation effects that are controlled by the stability of nanoparticle dispersion; partitioning of nanoparticles among the gas and fluid phases present; and adsorption and desorption onto interfaces.

Contrast Agents - Molecules or nanoparticles having augmented electromagnetic, acoustic, or other properties that can be dispersed in fracturing or injection fluids so as to increase one's ability to sense the spatial extent of those fluids by using available borehole, surface, and borehole-surface-imaging techniques.

Nanomaterial Sensors - Molecular and material-based sensors, predominantly fabricated using bottom-up techniques (chemical synthesis and/or self assemblage, most of which require retrieval and interrogation), and exhibit an irreversible and detectable state change when exposed to discrete or threshold-level variations in reservoir physical or chemical conditions.

Microfabricated Sensors - Sensors (predominantly) fabricated using top-down techniques that can continuously measure physical or chemical reservoir properties, are able to store or transfer data back to the well bore, and have a demonstrable path toward further miniaturization. These include micro and nanoelectronics, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), and nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) devices and their supporting subsystems (such as power harvesting and storage, telemetry, geolocation, memory, propulsion, and packaging).

Research projects focused on developing applications are organized into five "Use Cases" as defined by the AEC members:

  • Use Case 1 Contrast Agents for Water Flood and Fracture Mapping
  • Use Case 2 Subsurface Autonomous Nanosensor Device
  • Use Case 3 Nano Enhanced Oil Recovery (NanoEOR)
  • Use Case 4 Payload Delivery for Flood Conformance and Reservoir Characterization
  • Use Case 5: Subsurface Environment Threshold Sensors