Tyumen Scientists Develop an Efficient Solution to Liquefy Viscous Oil

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High iron content in Siberian groundwater allows large-scale production of inexpensive catalysts to enhance oil recovery in the fields.

On Friday, October 22, it became known that researchers of Tyumen Industrial University (TIU) proposed to use iron-containing wastes of the treatment system in the water supply at oil-producing enterprises. Nanoparticles or micro dispersed iron oxide powder may become an inexpensive catalyst in the process of liquefying viscous oil, which will increase oil recovery, the university’s press service reported.

According to Lev Maximov, an engineer of the Fundamental and Applied Research Department, TIU, the groundwaters in the vast territory of Vasyugan swamps (53 thousand square kilometres - in the Tyumen, Tomsk, Novosibirsk, Omsk regions, Ugra and Yamal) contain high concentrations of iron in various compounds. The substances useful for oil workers may account for up to 70% of the wastes of water supply systems in this area.

The finely dispersed iron-containing powder is produced using a high-temperature gas-dynamic unit. It is fed with wastes that are formed after press-filtration of settled or groundwater passed through a system of hydro cyclones.

"The innovative project for the production of iron oxide nanopowders, developed at TIU, is currently being prepared for the procedure of international patenting. This opens up new opportunities for its development and implementation. But the main thing is that by solving the problem of recycling of technogenic waste, which is topical all over the world, the project makes a great contribution to improving the ecological situation and safety in the global aspect,” said Veronika Efremova, Rector of TIU.

Reportedly, several producing companies have already been interested in the catalyst increasing oil recovery. For instance, Gazpromneft-Zapolyarye.

It is worth reminding that the world-class Scientific Center for Rational Development of Liquid Hydrocarbon Reserves of the Planet of Kazan (Volga Region) Federal University has developed a method for increasing the efficiency of oil-bearing formation hydraulic fracturing technology. The superiority over the existing methods in terms of cost and environmental safety is achieved by generating nitric acid in the well.