Prince Amir Al Saud

Role of Nanotechnology in Growth of Oil & Gas and Utility Industry

Role of Nanotechnology in Growth of Oil & Gas and Utility Industry


United States is presently making use of nanotechnology with a diverse set of challenges from increasing energy demands


Oil & Gas along with utility industry has been approaching nanotechnologies as a potential solution to meet current challenges. Nanotechnology is providing enormous sustainability potential to bring about the much required power change in renewable energy: nanocomposites for more powerful and lighter wind power rotor cutters, and generation of extremely efficient photovoltaics. It also provided a new way for carbon capture at fossil fuel energy plants in form of nanomembranes.


Role of Nanotechnology in Growth of Oil & Gas and Utility Industry



Oil & Gas along with utility industry has been approaching nanotechnologies as a potential solution to meet current challenges. Nanotechnology is providing enormous sustainability potential to bring about the much required power change in renewable energy: nanocomposites for more powerful and lighter wind power rotor cutters, and generation of extremely efficient photovoltaics. It also provided a new way for carbon capture at fossil fuel energy plants in form of nanomembranes. Power cost savings might be made in reliable distribution and energy transmission but also to create electrochromic windows and smart glass capable of making use of solar power. Electricity storage can be substantially enhanced by optimized supercapacitors and batteries.

USA is presently making use of nanotechnology in various cities to deal with a diverse set of challenges from increasing energy demands to environmental problems as well as from financial stagnancy to growing population.


What is Nanotechnology?

The word “nano” stands for one-billionth meter; it is derived from the Greek word for “dwarf”. It is the word from which nanotechnology was derived. This refers to a distance of about two and twenty atoms joined head to head together, depending on the size of the atom in question. One of the smallest atoms is the hydrogen atom and its size is 0.1nm (nm= nanometer) and many atoms are within this size range. Atoms combine end to end to form molecules and there could be up to 30 atoms in a molecule. The size of a molecule could be about 1nm. Cells are composed of various molecules and its size could range from 3 to 20nm.

Is it possible to create materials and devices of sizes ranging below 100nm; this is the concept on which nanotechnology is based. Nanotechnology deals on creating devices and materials very small in sizes (of sizes between 1 and 100 nm). Materials within these size ranges are said to be in the nanoscale. Such materials are known as nanocrystals or nanomaterials.

The reason why creating materials of such sizes is important is simply because of the characteristics and features exhibited by materials at such extremely small sizes. This is because at such extreme small sizes, the realm of quantum physics and quantum mechanics become dominant.

Nanocrystals show some magnetic properties as well as other extraordinary properties such as color changes. They also show amazing catalyst ability as well as optical features. At such small size, some physical and chemical properties do not hold. Thus, you can change or even improve the chemical and physical properties of a material by producing it at the nanoscale. This is the reason why lots of researches have been focused on nanotechnology today.

Producing large materials composing composite nanoparticles is the secret of reducing weights and achieving a greater straight. Such materials are already being produced as can be seen on mobile phone screens, wearable electronics, car bumpers, sunscreens, synthetic bones, glass packaging and many more.


Nanotechnology in the Oil and Gas industry

As much as nanotechnology is expected to benefit other fields of life, there are lots of ways it can benefit the oil and gas industry. Nanotechnology is important in the oil and gas industry as it will give way for a radical improvement in the construction of deep water oil and gas production facilities and also in the absolute titivation of the transport methods. For instance, if nanocrystals are used in absolutely designing sport utility vehicles, the end result would be the production of an SUV weighing one-third the original size. This simply means that the fuel consumption of the vehicle will be drastically reduced to as much as 80 percent and therefore saving lots of petroleum in the process.

The growing issues regarding keeping the future adequacy of oil and gas sources have urged the drilling technologists to search for advanced alternatives of existing approaches and technologies for oil and gas extraction from both offshore and onshore reservoirs. Sector needs incredible discoveries as the look for hydrocarbon sources has actually come to be severe in regards to going further and hence higher temperature and pressure. Oman, being an oil based economy, is now making every effort to transcend standard ways for optimum upturn of oil by accessing deep lying reservoirs and cost reliable drilling procedures for feasible recuperation from small reservoirs and discovering -new areas because all of the existing wells are now moving toward maturity.

Nanofluids and Nanomaterials for Exploration and Drilling

Exploration and drilling sectors are two main oil branches where the perks of nanofluids and nanomaterials application are already tangible. Nanotechnology has opened up the door to the development of a new generation of liquids specified as "smart fluids" for drilling, exploration, production and simulation associated applications.

Montmorillonite(Mt) is the integral part of bentonite and its efficacy in drilling industry comes from its unique rheological properties. Small quantities of montmorillonite disseminated in water formulate a relatively more viscous shear thinning material.

Ideal palygorskite (Pal) has dioctahedral character and its elongated results in unique colloidal properties, particularly the resistance to high concentrations of electrolytes.

Pal contains good colloidal properties including specific features in dispersion, high temperature persistence, alkali and salt resistance, high adsorbing and de-coloring abilities which is more suitable for commercial applications.

The drilling mud circulation in a well serves the key feature of removing small bit cuttings from the hole. On top of that, it lubricate the bit, prevents open sloughing, and forms a impervious filter cake on the walls of the hole, hence avoiding loss of the liquid to porous developments.Of utmost value among the features of clay-based for an exploration mud is the ability of the clay to construct up an appropriate viscosity at relatively low strong levels and to maintain the required viscosity throughout the exploration procedure. Mt has actually been widely utilized for this objective, but it can be made use of just with the help of expensive chemical therapies in areas where pollutants are in abundance like salt, magnesium sulfate or calcium sulfate. The special nanorod structure and large specific surface area of Pal make it more efficient and stable transformer for drilling fluids.

 Due to huge domain of nanotechnology applications, the drilling & exploration sector will gain a lot from it among which is using nanoparticles in drilling fluids in order to have a certain operational efficiency, security and viability to embrace well with a broad assortment of operation with minor adjustments in composition and dimensions. Using nanoparticles in drilling fluids will allow the exploration technologists to swiftly customize the exploration liquid rheology by changing the composition, prevent use of various other expensive additives, and type as well as size of distribution of nanoparticles to suit any specific circumstance. Using nanoparticles manufactured from different materials has actually been made use of to obtain particular targets. By controlling the rheology of exploration fluid by utilizing nanoparticles, extensive drilling problems can be stayed clear of by modification of properties to suit particular drilling conditions including type of formation, surrounding pressure and temperature, required operating pressure, formation pressure and so forth

Nanofluids can provide some further benefits as mentioned below:

•   Nanofluids used in drilling mud is considered as a solution to ultra-deep drilling fluid

•   Significant impact in the fluid can be achieved by addition of nanoparticles at low percentage by weight.

•   The suspension of nanoparticles can provide improved stability against sedimentation along with better magnetic mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties

•   It is customizable for the different situations and geographical regions

•   Nanofluids will enable access to deep and hot regions in high grade formations where oil companies cannot presently be reached


Use of Nanomembranes

Inspired by the excellence of zeolites, which are materials having ability of separation of gases such as oxygen and nitrogen, a new generation of large scale, light-weight and durablenanomembranes is being developed and deployed. These nanomembranes will substantially boost the exploitation of tight gas by providing efficient techniques for taking out pollutants, dividing gas streams and allowing GTL manufacturing. By exploiting techniques usual in the microelectronics market, the cost of creating extremely consistent and reproducible membranes is fairly affordable. Nanoporous and nanoparticular products are likewise quite encouraging to manage the environmental, safety and health threats that coming from the visibility of CO2 and H2S in hydrocarbon combination.Due to the synthesis of a new course of elastomeric composites filled of carbon nanotubes or other highly anisotropic nano-objects, tougher, stronger and resistant drilling devices and apparatus will be made in the coming years.

Nanotechnology is providing solution of different issues including lowering the amount of water used in enhanced oil recovery, enhancement of the catalysts used, enhancing the efficiency of fluids flowing through long pipes and also cleaning waste water.

Nanotechnology is very important in value chains of the oil and gas industry. The application of various nanoscale materials and particles is highly pivotal in petroleum exploration, reservoir, drilling, completion, production, processing and refinery. It is now easy to resolve the subsurface imaging in order to achieve advanced field characterization technique with the use of nano-sensors. With high end nanotechnology, the production stages in the oil and gas industry are greatly enhanced. This goes a long way to ensure oil recovery through molecular modification and also the control of intermediary features. Not only this, nanotechnology goes a long way to offer avenues for improving post production processes.

It is quite evident that the oil and gas industry faces great challenges when it comes to cost of production as well as many other challenges involved in the exploration processes such as deep water oil exploration. However, it is expected that these challenges will be properly addressed and solved with nanotechnology. The key solution to oil production challenges lies with nanotechnology. With this technology, the rate of recovering of oil will be greatly increased. Since it enhances the production techniques and tools, the cost of production will be greatly reduced as various problems that usually occur in field development operations will be greatly eliminated or reduced.

Different key players in the oil and gas industry are playing vital roles in the Advanced Energy Consortium and they poll their resources for effective researches to reach common goals. 10 companies involved in the consortium include Baker Hughes Inc., ConocoPhilips, BP America Inc., Petrobras, Halliburton Energy Services Inc., Occidental Oil and Gas, Marathon Oil Corp., Schlumberger, Shell and Total.


Nanotechnology in the Utility industry

The term “utility” is a very broad but main form of utilities including electricity,communication, water and gas. These utilities greatly influence human beings and environment. With nanotechnology, the utility industry can be greatly enhanced as advanced and state of the art devices can now be used in the different phases of operations.

For instance, with the high end technology, different equipments and devices used in the electric utility industry, as well as other utility industries, can be modified so as to ensure all round enhancements in the performances of the products. Good examples of such devices are nanoscale ceramics coating and high temperature and sulphur-tolerant nanomaterials.

Using nanoscale or nanotechnology in the utility industry would ensure that devices produced will last longer and also will be able to operate at a much higher efficiency. This simply implies that the profitability of the utility industry will be increased in an unprecedented way by employing these technologies in various stages of the operation.

Energy experts report that the global demand for energy is expected to increase from 13 terawatts of energy to about 30 terawatts. Achieving such significant feat depends solely on nanotechnology and its emerging sciences. With nanotechnology, growth will be driven to a very high rate whereas high level of efficiency and performances will still be achieved.

Nanotechnology can be leveraged in enhancing the efficiency of fluids (including water and gases) flowing along long pipes for the supply of water and gases. In addition, it can also be wielded in the cleaning of waste waters. The technology can be employed in water purification stages and it will go a long way to facilitate the processes and result to the achievement of enhanced results.

Safe water filtration, purification and desalination through low-cost and portable nanotechnology devices is a big expect of future which could possibly assist establishing nations to have their own clean and drinkable water.

Nanomembranes having organic polymer properties can make filters running at the molecular degree. The state of art work is transferred from nature, and living cells function as nanomembranes to operate.Nanotechnology is additionally concentrating on looking into nanoparticles as effective adsorbents and nanoscale titanium dioxide as a driver to remove pollutants.

Information & communication industry is benefiting from nanotechnology in even more ways than one. The applications are many including those in smarter sensors, logic components, computer chips, memory storage devices, quantum computer optoelectronics, and so on. It could generally be classified under groups of nanoelectronics and photonics, specifically integrated circuits, digital manufacturing devices, data storage, displays and graphenes, and so forth.

Environmental sustainability

Oil & Gas industry is facing many environmental issues which can be resolved by Nanotechnology. It offers an exciting breakthrough in environment friendly technologies, from the deterrence of pollution to renewable energy sources. Currently, more efficient and cheaper solar energy collectors using nanostructured materials are on their way. For energy storage, nanotechnology embodies a powerful tool for safely storing the hydrogen inside nanostructures such as Zeolithic and carbon nanotubes based materials as well as nanodusts.

In addition, nanotechnology is leading towards development of more efficient and environmentally friendly super capacitors and batteries with increased available power and decreased recharging time. Generally, these benefits are attained by coating the electrodes surfaces with nanoparticles.



The extreme size of nanoparticles is of great importance in both the oil &gas and the utility industry. Refineries become less productive as they grow old. They are expected to function at a lower pressure and temperature. Such reduction in pressure and temperature greatly affects yield. However, with nanoparticles acting like catalysts, the refinery can function at a reduced temperature and pressure without sacrificing yield in any way. Employing nanotechnology in the water, electric and gas utility industry will go a long way to ensure environmental protection as toxins will be greatly eliminated. Indeed the benefits of nanotechnology cannot be overemphasized. 

Quote : 

"Fusion of small things will create greater power and benefit global community." - Prince Amir Al Saud

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