How to make seawater smarter

In her PhD work, Remya Nair has investigated how "smart" salt water can increase oil recovery. 15 March she defended her doctoral thesis.

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Remya Nair's PhD project was to improve the seawater, known as smart water, which is used in oil production.

Remya Nair did her PhD degree at The National IOR Centre of Norway. The research field is improved oil recovery, that is, all methods that aim to get the most hydrocarbons out of the reservoir.

On Friday, March 15, Nair defended her doctoral degree with the thesis "Smart Water for Enhanced Oil Recovery from Seawater and Produced Water by Membranes". By filtering the water being injected one can remove unwanted ions. Oil production is accelerated and more oil is produced in less time. The amount of water injected becomes less, less energy is needed to recover the oil, and the production can become more environmentally friendly. The goal of this research is to look at the technical possibilities and limitations that exist by injecting smart water from seawater and produced water with membranes.

Endless possibilities

Nair is from India. She took her master's degree at the University of Stavanger, and started her doctoral degree in May 2015. When Nair herself is going to describe her doctoral work, she does it in this way: "My project is mainly about modifying the ionic composition of seawater. When I read about membranes and how they can be changed for different purposes, it is amazing. The possibilities are endless, ”says Nair.

The so-called membranes are specially developed nano-filters that are installed at the top of the injection wells. The filters change the composition of ions in the water in such a way that the oil in the reservoir is pushed towards the producing wells. The nanofilter makes the job both easier and at a much lower cost than when using injection water added polymer.

Trial lecture on microplastics in the sea

Nair belongs to the Department of Chemistry, Bioscience and Environmental Engineering. Professor Torleiv Bilstad has been her main supervisor, while Associate Professor Skule Strand has been co-supervisor. The public defense took place Friday 15 March in the auditorium E-164, Kjølv Egeland's house. At 10.00 am there was a trial lecture with the theme: "Micro-plastic pollution of the oceans; environmental impacts, challenges and solutions".

Text and photo: Kjersti Riiber