Nanoparticles Improve Chemical Sensors

Nanoparticles Improve Chemical Sensors | Flowmetrics

Infrared sensors have difficulties measuring refractive information and chemical attributes of certain compounds, and a new method from researchers at the University of Houston seeks to improve the results by adding nanoparticles to near infrared sensing. Improvements here would impact the oil and fuel industries in regards to drilling analysis.

The team has created a process by which near infrared light is reflected off nanoporous gold disks with plasmonic hotspots for localized electric field enhancement. By mixing these gold disks into the compound, a beam of near infrared light, 1-2.5 μm wavelength, encourages different reactions at specific wavelengths. This process combines the advantages of both infrared and near infrared sensing techniques. It requires a smaller sample size to obtain the same measurements and therefore will save on costs and resources for analysis of new oil well drill sites.


Clock here for the full article on Chemical Processing.

California Wind and Solar Power

California Wind and Solar Power | Flowmetrics

California is a natural gas powered state, but wind and solar are rapidly increasing in popularity. Hydroelectric power locations are dwindling, locations becoming more scarce and less efficient as more power plants are introduced. Even though these renewable power sources have increased in the total share of power supply to California, natural gas has increased its share as well, about 13% in just the last year. This phenomenon is due to the lack of reliability in wind and solar power generation, as these power plants cannot compete with the demand for power, natural gas plants are run to make up the difference.


Click here for the full article by Jude Clemente. 

Better Biofuels

Better Biofuels | Flowmetrics

Engineered bacteria is beginning to streamline biofuel productions. The bacteria being used is a strain of E. coli that has been adapted to withstand liquid salt solutions used for breaking down plant matter into sugars. As these cells adapt better to this type of environment, biofuel processing will no longer need to remove the liquid salts from the mixture before introducing the bacteria, the process would be a “one pot method.”

Yields are currently significantly lower as the tests are using less pure sugar than other processes. Further refining of the E. coli strain will hopefully boost the returns seen from this vastly easier method.

Currently, we have only engineered the strain to digest cellulose so it can use the resulting glucose to grow and make the biofuel,” explains Mukhopadhyay. “We can also engineer it to digest hemicellulose, another large component of plant biomass so that it can use the resulting xylose for growth and production also!”


Click here for the full article by ChemicalProcessing.

Oil Producers Explore Crackers

Oil Producers Explore Crackers | Flowmetrics

From the installation near Monaca, Pa liquefied natural gas will be exported to consumers, and industry leaders expect growth in liquefied natural gas demand to remain. Ethane crackers utilize high heat, catalysts, and solvents to break the molecules of larger ethane into ethylene.

As supply of crude oil deposits dwindle, more energy producers are focusing on liquid natural gas for itsportability. Once cooled below its vapor point, natural gas compresses 600 times which makes it easier to transport and ship to other regions including international destinations.

Recently, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projected domestic ethane production to grow from 1.1 million barrels per day in 2015 to 1.4 million barrels each day in 2017, an increase of 300,000 barrels daily.


Click here for the full article by Casey Junkins.

Cheaper Drilling for Oil and Gas

Cheaper Drilling for Oil and Gas | Flowmetrics

The US Energy Information Administration has released a study with results on wellhead drilling costs. Findings from this study show that upstream costs in 2015 have dropped by 25% to 30% below 2012 levels. These costs have even dropped up to 20% under the average over the past 5 years. 

The EIA attributes the lower costs to technological advancements creating higher productivity per well. To standardize the findings the team created a measurement unit of Barrels of Oil Equivalent, BOE, and analyzed the effectiveness of wells in that unit of effectiveness. While certain strategies in oil drilling have increased costs per well, namely deeper longer wells, the increased performance overshadows these expenses for a lower cost per BOE. 

The study forecasts a 15 percent reduction in deepwater costs in 2015, an additional three percent reduction in 2016, and a modest rise in costs from 2017 to 2020.


Click here for the full article from Industrial Equipment News.

Chemical Processes to Change the World

Chemical Processes to Change the World | Flowmetrics

15% of the global energy consumption is spent on chemical processing. These processes aim at purifying certain substances out of mixtures, and the most common method is through heating and distillation. The vast majority of these purifying processes are done on crude oil to separate the various useful hydrocarbons. Alternatives exist for accomplishing this goal while using only 10% of the energy of distillation practices. Little research has been done to fully flesh out these alternatives, though.

Nuclear power is crucial for future generations, and crude oil is running out. Current estimates on the lifespan of our uranium reserves have them expiring within a century. To better fuel our need for energy well into the future, we will need to establish a cost-effective process to separate uranium from seawater. The amount of uranium in the oceans is roughly 0 times the amount we have left in our geological reserves.


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