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KU Engineers, ConocoPhillips collaborate to use nanotechnology to enhance oil recovery

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas and ConocoPhillips have announced a three-year collaborative nanotechnology research program through the School of Engineering and the Tertiary Oil Recovery Project (TORP) that will focus on the development and testing of new technologies for oil field stimulation to enhance recovery to help meet growing energy demand. ConocoPhillips will contribute $400,000 per year to the program.

Nanotechnology — engineering on the scale of atoms and molecules — is commonly used in a number of industries, and its application in the oil and gas industry represents a major prospect for substantial and sustained benefits. KU is not only viewed as an innovation leader in nanotechnology research but also has been examining and developing enhanced oil recovery techniques through TORP since 1974. While enhanced oil recovery techniques that use injected fluids to stimulate hydrocarbon recovery have been employed for decades, inclusion of nanoparticles may lead to more efficient and environmentally sensitive technologies.

“KU’s extensive experience in enhanced oil recovery and nanotechnology provides an ideal foundation for our collaborative research focused on developing promising new oilfield applications,” said Stephen Brand, senior vice president for technology at ConocoPhillips. “ConocoPhillips is pleased to be working with KU to discover some of the next generation of solutions to the world’s energy challenges.”

“KU has a terrific team of researchers working with ConocoPhillips,” said Steve Warren, vice provost for research and graduate studies.  “Energy research in all its forms is a major area of strength for KU. We’re pleased to be working with ConocoPhillips to foster innovation, support additional research and increase the productivity of an important sector of the economy.”

Under the agreement, KU researchers will use nanotechnology to generate polymer-type products and will conduct initial screening and testing. ConocoPhillips will provide additional evaluation and field testing to determine the products’ practical application.

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