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Posted: September 24, 2009

More efficient oil extraction using nanofluidics

(Nanowerk News) The University of Twente (UT) will contribute to the Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) Exploratory Research Program (ExploRe) from the energy company BP, starting 23 September 2009. In this program, researchers examine methods to increase oilfield production by approximately 10 percent. The Physics of Complex Fluids group (PCF), led by Professor Frieder Mugele, and was chosen from numerous research groups throughout the world. The contract lasts five years and the research group will receive more than €4 million from BP.
'Efficient oil extraction from the earth means effectively using water to force oil from microscopic rock pores. This is micro- and nanofluidics, the core activities of my research group, but applied on an extremely large scale. Our expertise in these areas, supported by two research institutes with excellent facilities, MESA+ and IMPACT, ensured that the UT was chosen by BP', said research leader Mugele.
Current oil extraction technology leaves about two thirds of the oil in the ground. The aim of ExploRe is to increase the efficiency of oil production by at least 10 percent. This means if the world's oil consumption was to remain constant, known oilfields could be used for an extra ten years. BP is seeking innovative technologies by working intensively with three world-class research groups. These were deliberately sought outside the oil industry to facilitate innovation. Alongside the UT, the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Göttingen (Germany) and the University of Copenhagen (Denmark) are also participating.
Professor Mugele's PCF group will research the interaction between oil, water and rocks on micro- and nanoscales. This research will be carried out within the next few years in MESA+, the Institute for Nanotechnology, and IMPACT, the Institute of Mechanics, Process and Control Twente.
University of Twente
The University of Twente strives to use technological research to solve society's problems. This contract with BP is an excellent example of this. 'It is recognition of our commitment to excellence that an international party like BP chooses our University', said Anne Flierman, President of the UT Executive Board. The Executive Board President directs attention in this context to Kennispark Twente, the UT's valorization sector, which supports innovative entrepreneurship for new and developing businesses, and thus also the region's development.
Source: University of Twente
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