Olje og gass

SIP - New Functional Tracers Based on Nanotechnology

The main aim of this project is to develop new tracer materials that can be used for flow monitoring in oil reservoirs, oil wells and process studies. The project addresses the need for automatic and unmanned monitoring in relation to the e-field concept.

Bjørnstad, Tor

Research Manager


This project is a SIP (Strategic Institute Programme) for the period 2007-2009.

The studies and developments are taking place along two separate but interconnected paths:

  • Development of radiotracer generators for automatic generation and handling of tracer compounds labelled with short-lived gamma-emitting radionuclides. This development is based on existing nuclear genetic mother-daughter relationships. These relationships make it possible to develop radionuclide generators, and by modifying the chemistry by red-ox reactions and/or complexation, tracers may be tailormade for fluid and solid phases in process studies.
  • Development of nano-tracers based on surface modified nanoparticles. The bare nanoparticle can be a tracer itself if it carries properties, which makes it detectable in ultra-low concentrations (for instance a rare earth doped inner core).  The nanoparticle may also be a carrier for chemical tracer compounds, e.g. a fluorescing dye, DNA sequence, a magnetic compound or for isotopic or radioactive tags. Such nano-tracers are candidates for reservoir tracing.  The radioactive tags may be short-lived from a radionuclide generator, i.e. nano-particles may be integrated in the tracer-generating devise of the radionuclide generator. In this way, short-lived radiotracers based on nano-particles are produced for process studies.

In brief, the work tasks are:

  • Select a few nuclear mother-daughter relationships (≤4), evaluate possible radionuclide generator configurations, produce and test the generators, develop and evaluate complexing and labelling chemistry and design and build a prototype integrated radiotracer generator.
  • For the nano-tracers we will start by studying flow properties of already available nanoparticles. Candidates are crude or slightly modified Au colloids, rare earth-doped Ln-particles with polysiloxane coverage and silicate particles. Flow measurements will be carried out in porous matrices, i.e. columns packed with sand or consolidated reservoir rock materials (sandstones, calsite rock). Then, nanoparticle systems that have a potential for being analysed in very low concentrations, will be further investigated. A variety of analytical methods can be developed and used depending of the character of the individual particles including lased-induced fluorescence, NMR, neutron activation analysis and gamma spectroscopy in case of radiolabelled particles.

    Flow properties will depend on size and surface functionalization of the particles. Alternative methods for surface modifications to obtain desirable flow properties will be investigated.

    During development the potential for up-scaled production to meet requirements for full-field investigation will be important.

Methods developed and qualified on laboratory scale during this project will be further tested in field pilot projects following this project together with oil companies either through our ongoing “tracer club” or by targeted KMB or BIP-projects for final field qualification.

A presentation is available under Downloads