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For Geothermal Drilling Scientists Developing New Methods And Smart Well-bore Materials

A University of Oklahoma analysis team is developing smart lost circulation materials that use shape memory polymers activated by geothermal temperatures to stop the loss of fluid in fractured rocks near the wellbore. These materials expand within the fractures to reduce non-drilling time and strengthen the wellbore in high-temperature drilling operations. Department of Energy’s Geothermal Technologies in the U.S.  Office funded the early-stage research with a $1.79 million grant. As well as, the project has more than $0.5 million cost share from various entities.

“The cost of digging a geothermal well is prohibitive without new technologies to deal with the challenge of drilling the type of rock found in a geothermal effectively,” stated Saeed Salehi, project principal investigator and professor of petroleum and geological engineering, Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy. “The shape polymers beneath growth for this project are novel expandable and programmable polymers that activate when drilling excessive-temperature geothermal drilling operations.”

Salehi is engaged on the three-section mission with Ramadan Ahmed and Catalin Teodoriu, petroleum and geological engineering professors, Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy, and collaborators Dahi Taleghani, Pennsylvania State University, and Guoqiang Li, Louisiana State University.

The first phase of the project, the team will develop a combination of lost circulation prevention methods and smart wellbore strengthening supplies to address the issues in geothermal wells. The supplies include novel expandable and programmable polymers, degradable thermoplastic composites and ceramics mixed with lost circulation materials that shall be tested in drilling and wellbore strengthening simulator.

The second phase, the team will conduct flow loop tests on the supplies using one among OU’s excessive-temperature flow loops modified for testing. And, in the last phase, computational models shall be run to design the perfect combination of techniques, material sizes and concentration for application in the wells.

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