Enhanced Oil Recovery by Analysis and Control of Vortex Flow in Porous Media : A widely applied method for enhancing oil recovery is the injection of a secondary flow e.g. water, steam, or carbon dioxide underground to drive more oil to a production well. Various studies estimate that up to 2/3 of the underground oil remains in the reservoir at the end of the extraction process with existing technologies. Improved flooding methods are therefore in great demand and can have a large impact. This research aims to develop a detailed analysis of vortex flow (pumping flow) in porous media (underground layers), leading to a new understanding of flow patterns underground that will help to optimize the location of wells and select the appropriate controllable parameters to enhanced oil recovery.

Experimental Analysis of Vortex Flow in Porous Media: A vast number of natural and man-made materials are solids that contain pores (voids), for example rocks, soil, biological tissues, cements, ceramics, etc. These porous media are used in many areas of applied science and engineering including filtration, soil mechanics, petroleum engineering, bioengineering, etc. This activity involves the investigation of fundamental scientific questions regarding vortex flows in porous media, namely uncovering the effect of (a) porosity, (b) permeability, (c) fluid density and viscosity, (d) injection velocity, pressure, pulse duration, and frequency on the behavior of fluid pattern separation, accumulation, and transport phenomena of vortex flow within the porous medium.

Carbon Nanotube-based Solar Water Heater - Collaborative work with NanoTech Inst. at UTD: Utilizing solar energy requires capture, conversion, and storage of energy. Evacuated solar tubes are a very promising technology to convert solar energy to heat for water and space heating or air conditioning. Evacuated solar tubes consist of concentric transparent tubes separated by a vacuum layer and a solar selective absorber covering the outside of the inner tube. Current selective absorbers are made of aluminum-nitrogen (Al-NI) layers with solar absorption of 80%, thus 20% of solar energy is lost . In addition, selective coating requires careful control over the sputtering process (up to 12 sputtered layers) thus is expensive. Such complex coatings are still inefficient with low absorptivity and high emissivity (7-22%) which means heat losses due to re-radiation. In this project we have developed a novel nanocomposite solar selective absorber with layers of carbon nanotube sheets and phase change materials to increase the solar energy absorption and storage (at the same time) on the evacuated solar tubes.

Text Box: Current and Previous External Sponsors: 
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Department of Energy (DOE)
American Chemical Society-Petroleum Research Fund (ACS-PRF)
Oak Ridge Associate Universities-Ralph Powe Grant (ORAU)