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Distinguished Seminar Series: New Opportunities from Use of Functional Molecules and Molecular Simulations in Hydrocarbon Energy Production, Abbas Firoozabadi

March 13 @ 10:00 am - 11:00 am

Abbas Firoozabadi

Reservoir Engineering Research Institute, Palo Alto, CA, USA

College of Engineering, Peking University Beijing, China

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Rice University, Houston, TX, USA

Abstract: In the last few years, there has been acceleration in introduction of new ideas for more efficient production of hydrocarbons from subsurface formations and the stewardship of the environment. Two items stand out: 1- The use of functional molecules in very small quantities to achieve major objectives, and 2- Increasing use of atomistic, molecular, and mesoscopic scale simulations to engineer effective molecules and compute physical and mechanical properties of rocks and fluid-rock systems. These are what makes modern petroleum engineering different from the period of say before 2010. Shale gas and shale oil have changed the energy land scale in the world. The exploitation of shale resources from hydraulic fracturing by water has also raised environmental concern. This presentation will cover three topics of new developments.

New Improved Oil Recovery Process from Use of 100 ppm Functional Molecules. The new process is through increase of interface elasticity at 100 ppm concentration in injected water. The process relies on change of molecular structure at the brine-oil interface and prevention of snap off. An environmentally friendly chemical has been found which has very low adsorption at the rock surface. The process is simple to apply in the field. It can increase the oil recovery by around 20% in some crude oils. The efficiency can be more effective than low salinity water injection.

CO2 Viscosification. Supercritical CO2 has gas-like viscosity and liquid-like density. The low viscosity limits the application of CO2 for improved oil recovery and CO2 fracking. The fracking by CO2 has major advantages over hydraulic fracking by water. It does not require flow back and the potential for seismicity activities may be less. It may be also more effective in fracking than by water. The challenge has been to engineer molecules that are soluble in CO2 and are effective in viscosity increase. We have carried out mesoscopic molecular simulations to facilitate engineering of new molecules through knowledge of molecular structure in CO2. Only one group of effective polymers have been recognized in the past. These molecules have high fluorine content and are both expensive and environmentally undesirable.

Physical and Mechanical Properties of Kerogen and Fluids, and Flow in Shale Media. There has been much research recently in molecular simulations of adsorption and flow in shale media. Kerogen is the key component of shale matrix and the focus has been in molecular simulations of adsorption and flow. Majority of authors assume that kerogen matrix is not deformable. Deformable kerogen can directly capture swelling as well as providing more accurate description of adsorption and flow. Our recent results on adsorption and swelling in deformable kerogen matrix will be discussed. A new technique is introduced to prevent collapse of pore structure from removal of dummy particles when creating kerogen matrix with desirable porosity. The last part of the presentation will cover computation of kerogen mechanical properties and prediction of kerogen failure under tension and compression.

Bio: Professor Firoozabadi is a senior scientist and director at the Reservoir Engineering Research Institute (RERI) in Palo Alto, CA, a Distinguished Research Professor, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Rice University, Houston, and a Distinguished Visiting Professor at College of Engineering, Peking University in Beijing, China. He has previously taught graduate thermodynamics at Yale University, New Haven, CT. for 10 Years.

The major research focus of Abbas has been on efficient production from subsurface conventional/unconventional hydrocarbon formations and related environmental stewardship. His research work covers higher-order numerical modeling of subsurface flow, bulk phase-phase thermodynamics, interfacial thermodynamics, and irreversible thermodynamics. Both continuum scale and molecular simulations methods are advanced to study new improved hydrocarbon recovery methods and productions from shale formations. Current focus includes molecular engineering to use small amounts of functional molecules for efficiency in hydrocarbon energy production and stewardship of the environment. Very recently his research has been expanded into fracking.

Abbas is the author of two books on thermodynamics and applications in hydrocarbon energy productions published by McGraw-Hill. He has published some 250 papers in the Journals of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), ACS Central Science, Journal of Physical Chemistry C, Chemical Physics, Journal of Computational Physics, Current Opinions in Colloids and Interface Science, Langmuir, Soft Matter, and other scholarly Journals.

Firoozabdi has receive 4 of the 5 major awards of the Society Petroleum Engineers including the SPE Anthony Lucas Gold Medal. Professor Firoozabadi is a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).


March 13
10:00 am - 11:00 am
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Marquez Hall
1600 Arapahoe St.
Golden, CO 80401 United States


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