A vital part of drilling and tapping new oil wells is the use of specialized cement to line the borehole and stop collapse and leakage of the hole. To keep these cement from hardening too quickly before they penetrate to the deepest ranges of the well, they’re combined with chemical compounds called retarders that slow down the setting process.
It has been hard to check the way these retarders work, however, because the process happens at excessive pressures and temperatures that are hard to breed at the surface.
Researchers at MIT and elsewhere have come up with new techniques for observing the setting process in microscopic detail, an advance that they are saying might result in the event of new formulations mainly designed for the conditions of a given location nicely. This could go a long way towards addressing the issues of methane leakage and well collapse that may occur with immediately’s formulations.
Their findings seem in the journal Cement and Concrete Analysis, in a paper by MIT Professor Oral Buyukozturk, MIT research scientist Kunal Kupwade-Patil, and eight others at the Aramco Analysis Center in Texas and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee.
The cement used to seal the lining of oil wells typically has to set heaps or even thousands of meters beneath the floor, under extreme conditions and in the presence of assorted corrosive chemical substances. Research of retarders have been done by removing samples of the cured cement from a well for testing in the lab, however, such tests don’t reveal the small print of the sequence of chemical modifications taking place over the curing process.