Polymers for oil and gas

Polymers find broad application in the recovery, transport and utilisation of oil and gas. For example, as oil field chemicals or as lightweight materials with superior durability properties. The Polymers for Oil and Gas programme aims to generate tools and new insights into existing and new polymers, for utilisation in the exploration, production and transport of oil and gas. The focus is on two main areas of study. The first is the use of polymers in fluids for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and other sub surface drilling/recovery applications. Second, polymer behaviour in functional materials used under extreme/adverse conditions (in close collaboration with the Performance Polymers programme).

Focus areas

Structure–property relationships and the design of new model macromolecules
Controlled radical polymerisation techniques will be employed to investigate the effects of macromolecular topology. For example, branching, on polymer solution properties and on viscosity and/or visco-elasticity. These novel structures are evaluated in core flow experiments to determine their injectivity and impact on the recovery of oil in porous media. The effects of polymeric surfactants, i.e. high molecular weight amphiphilic structures, that have the potential to decrease the interfacial tension and enhance oil recovery, are also being investigated. These may yield better results compared to those obtained with the current polymer flooding applications.

Relating polymer rheology to apparent viscosity in porous media
Developing reliable models to predict the relationship of polymer-apparent viscosity in porous media to porous-medium properties, bulk rheological parameters, and superficial velocity in the medium, and establish the relationship with enhanced oil recovery. 

For more information on the research programme, the benefits of participation and your role as an industrial partner, please contact us.

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