Acoustic Energy: An Innovative Technology for Stimulating Oil Wells

Period of Performance: 01/01/2002 - 12/31/2002

$636K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Techsavants, Inc.
211 East Illinois Street, Lower Level
Wheaton, IL 60187
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Abstract

65233 A significant portion of U.S. oil reserves is made up of difficult-to-produce, viscous, heavy crude deposits. To produce this oil, steam injection is used to make the oil flow more readily. However, as the costs to produce steam rise (due to natural gas price increases and water availability) and as environmental regulations become more restrictive, new technology is needed that is more economical, more efficient, and less polluting. This project will demonstrate that sonication, the use of acoustic energy to produce changes in fluids and solids, has the capability to reduce the viscosity of oil, allowing it to flow easier, without compromising the physical properties and chemical composition of heavy crude oil. In Phase I, a prototype sonication system was designed and fabricated, and the system components were tested as an operating unit. The sonication system was tested on a series of viscous oils and showed viscosity reductions between 63-70% in 20-30 minutes. Preliminary heavy crude testing gave even better results. In Phase II, the possible impacts of sonication on oil¿s physical properties and chemical composition will be addressed. A commercialization plan will be prepared, including project data, market potential, process economics, and a scaled-up design for field demonstration. The system will be fully tested and optimized in a downhole field test. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits as described by the awardee: A successful technology for exploiting heavy crude oil would support energy security, ensure the stability of the U.S. domestic oil industry, and make U.S. companies more competitive in the world¿s oil production arena.