Nanotechnology for the oil and gas industry – an overview of recent progress

(De Gruyter) – Nanotechnology has brought about revolutionary innovations in many aspects of the oil and gas industry. Nanomaterials have large surface areas and high volume concentrations. Given these dimensional effects, nanomaterials acquire unique mechanical, chemical, thermal, and magnetic properties and, therefore, have a superior performance than conventional micro and macro materials in a range of oil and gas field applications. Nanomaterials can also be custom functionalized by chemical modifications to meet specific technical requirements.

The authors reviewed much of the current research concerning the application of nanomaterials in the oil and gas industry. The technical and economic prospects of nanomaterial and nanotechnology are significant. Nanopores are common in the stratum, especially, in shale formation. The transport of oil and gas in these nanopores was a major factor to impact the yield of oil and gas. The use of nanotechnology to improve the transport of oil and gas in these nanopores will increase the yield of oil and gas significantly.

The nanomaterials can be used as sensors to improve the sensitivity of the equipment or be coated on the surface of the equipment. These nanomaterial sensors will improve the accuracy and veracity of the equipment greatly, and then, the work time will be reduced significantly.

The addition of nanomaterials to HPHT drilling fluid system will improve the quality of the filter cake and reduce the volume of fluid loss. The apparent viscosity of the drilling fluid system was kept stable with the nanomaterial to maintain the good rheological properties. What is more important, the use of nanomaterials in water-based drilling fluids for shale formation was easy for keeping the stability of the wellbore. These nanomaterials entered into the nanopores and plugged them. As is well known, the instability of the wellbore for shale information was a worldwide problem. Maybe, the use of the nanomaterials can solve this problem.

Nano emulsifiers can enhance the stability of the oil-based drilling fluid system and increase the temperature of the application. Nano meter oil displacement agents with good rheological capability were placed into the stratum easily and improved the displacement efficiency. However, many of them are still at the experimental level. The industrial product is not yet prepared. The aggregation of the nanomaterials in the wellbore fluid is another major factor to limit the application of the nanomaterials. Such a small material is unstable in the wellbore fluid. They tend to aggregate and form the marco material, and it follows that the properties of the nanomaterials were weakened. How to disperse the nanomaterials and keep their stability is the key technology to develop and apply the nanomaterials in the oil and gas industry.

The cost of the nanomaterials is high, and how to lower the cost of the nanomaterial is an urgent problem. The interaction mechanism of the nanomaterials is incomplete. Explorations and research of the interaction mechanisms of the nanomaterials need to be studied.


Edited for Content and Length by Dr. Matthew A. Hood.

The  full article can be found at De Gruyter in the journal of Nanotechnology Reviews.


DOI: 10.1515/ntrev-2018-0061

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