A pair of University of Pittsburgh engineering professors landed a $2.4 million federal grant from the United States Advanced Research Projects Agency — Energy to develop a new thickening agent used in oil extraction and ultimately result in more oil production.
Eric Beckman, the George M. Bevier professor of engineering and co-director of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, and Robert Enick, NETL regional university alliance faculty researcher and Bayer professor in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering are leading the project that is looking at improving an oil extraction process that injects carbon dioxide (CO2) into oil reservoirs, according to a statement from Pitt.
“There’s a wide market for a new type of CO2 thickener that is more efficient and affordable,” Beckman said in a statement. “And CO2 is an ideal candidate for oil extraction given its ability to push and dissolve oil from underground layers of rock.”
The ARPA-E grant is being used in conjunction with a $1.2 million U.S. Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) grant, that was awarded last year, to fund the research.
Current CO2 flooding uses large amounts of water, but Beckman and Enick are looking at how to remove water from the process. By removing water, more oil can be recovered quicker.
Through this award Pitt will also be working with GE Global Research, a previous ARPA-E partner, and researchers at NETL.
Beckman’s name might sound familiar. His work led to the development of a surgical adhesive that is now being commercialized by North Shore-based Cohera Medical. And last month Enick was named a 2013 Carnegie Science Award winner.