As the energy industry looks to expand production in many new areas of on and off-shore, unconventional and harsh environments, reduce its environmental footprint and hold down costs, few research areas will be as important as materials science. Virtually every energy market stands to benefit from materials that are stronger, lighter, longer lasting, less expensive, more corrosion-resistant and "best suited for purpose" in the future.
Research at Rice – From Ideas to Impact:
Rice's materials science program is second to none. In 2010, the U.K.'s Times Higher Education survey declared Rice No. 1 in the world for materials science. A 2013 study by the Max Planck Society in Germany also ranked Rice No. 1 in the world based on citations of published research.
Much of that success stems from Rice's early lead in nanotechnology, the science of manipulating matter at the molecular and atomic level. The Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the buckyball at Rice in 1985 was one of the field's earliest and most important developments, and Rice capitalized on that by hiring new faculty with nanotechnology expertise and by founding the world's first nanotechnology research center, the Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology (now called the Smalley-Curl Institute), in 1993. Today more than a third of Rice's science and engineering faculty conduct materials-related research, and Rice formed the nation's first Department of Materials Science and Nanoengineering in 2013.
Rice has strong materials research programs in nanofabrication, nanophotonics and optics, graphene and carbon nanotechnology, nanocatalysis, nanomaterial fate and transport, environmental remediation, nanotechnology policy and nanoelectronics. In recent years these Rice scientists have created conductive plastics, polymers for longer-lasting blowout preventers, "nanoreporter" molecules that can go downhole and report the location of oil, and carbon nanofibers that have the conductivity of copper, the strength of steal and the flexibility of cotton thread.
Please click on this link for the Smalley-Curl Institute to learn more.
Flow assurance is directly linked to advanced materials and has become ever more critical to unconventional hydrocarbon discovery and recovery. Novel construction and constructability allow for flow to be established and for sustainability of the flow systems. Corrosion resistance, improved flow dynamics, maximizing system efficiency and flow measurement and metering are all fields of study in flow assurance.
Other key flow studies can be found in Carbon Management research in terms of Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) and the miscibility and mobility of hydrocarbon surfactants and CO2. (See EOR and Carbon Management)
For more information regarding flow assurance, please contact our experts Walter Chapman, Francisco Vargas, Jim Tour, the Consortium on Petroleum Thermodynamics & Flow Assurance, or the Brine Chemistry Consortium.
Other Areas of Interest and Contacts
CNT Processing: Matteo Pasquali
Catalysis: Michael Wong
2D Materials: Jun Lou
Mathematical modeling and morphology: Boris Yakobson