Bureau of Economic Geology

AEC Team Wins Best Paper Award

February 18, 2020

A model of the simulation’s available energy density.

Mohsen Ahmadian and David Chapman of the Bureau’s Advanced Energy Consortium (AEC) coauthored a groundbreaking paper which has won the 2019 Best Paper of the Year Award from the Journal of Environmental and Engineering Geophysics. The paper is entitled “Power density distribution in subsurface fractures due to an energized steel well-casing source” and explores a completely new concept for supplying power to subsurface nanosensors. The study team was created out of a collaboration with Sandia National Laboratories, which also funded the study.

Simulations indicate that a combination of steel wellbore casing and electromagnetic (EM) additives could supply continuous electrical power to embedded nanosensors previously deployed during well completion. These sensors would then be able to communicate measured data back up the wellbore to operators even decades after deployment. The models also counterintuitively indicate that the electrical charge from the casing could propagate through the EM proppant, with higher energy density at the tips of any filled fractures.

The Journal of Environmental and Engineering Geophysics’ Best Paper of the Year Award “acknowledges significant and ongoing contributions to the discipline of environmental and engineering geophysics.” This paper is one of a great number of research papers authored by AEC scientists from around the world who have been studying nanotechnology over the last decade.

For more information about the Advanced Energy Consortium and how to participate in its nanotechnology research, you can contact Mohsen Ahmadian or David Chapman. Please join us in congratulating this innovative AEC team for their important research and for earning this prestigious award!

Watch a Sandia National Laboratories video about the study here.


Electromagnetic (EM) proppant provides a conduit for energizing embedded nanosensors.