Nanomaterial Market To Further Develop With New Nanoengineered Cement

  • Analysis
  • 14-January-2021

For over a century of oil and gas drilling has been done by humans leaving behind millions of abandoned wells. Most of them are now known for leaching pollutants into the air and water. Experts expect more of such wells to be orphaned by drilling companies due to bankruptcies, as oil prices struggle to recover from blows dealt by the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Leaks created by abandoned wells have come to be recognized as a significant threat to the environment, a terrible health hazard, and a public nuisance. As per research by Groundwater Protection Council, whose members include several state groundwater agencies. It has been stated that these wells have directly or indirectly caused dozens of groundwater contamination. Abandoned wells have been responsible for a slew of public safety incidents over the years, including a methane blowout that occurred in California at the construction site of a waterfront hotel.

 As a significant achievement in the Nanomaterials Market, researchers have developed a new cement mixture with a nanomaterial that may become the most affordable and effective product to seal these abandoned well. The cement has innate flexibility and is far more resistant to cracking in comparison to its substitutes. Resistance is a vital characteristic to have as cracks in casings which may allow methane to escape into the environment.

Whenever wells containing natural gases are drilled, cement is used to secure the casing or the pipe to a nearby rock. It effectively seals the well, preventing methane from travelling into the deep subsurface, through which it may get access to waterways or the atmosphere. These types of wells can, at times, extend for miles underground. Change in temperature over time and intensifying pressure may cause the cement to crack in form. To repair these cracks, a unique form of cement is required that can be used in a very narrow area of rock and the casing.

To fix a typical crack, a mix of cement can be poured to mend it. However, to seal these walls, the cement used needs to fix an area with a thickness of less than a millimeter equal to that of a piece of tape. Having the ability to pump cement through these very narrow spaces that methane molecules cannot escape from the well is the beauty of this new cement mixture.

In order to create a cement mixture that could better fill narrow spaces while being more robust and resilient, the scientists used about 2D of graphite. They developed a multi-step process that can distribute sheets of the nanomaterial into a cement slurry in a uniform manner—treating graphite first with chemicals resulted in the mineral changing its surface properties so that the material could dissolve in water instead of repelling it.

Graphite is the best nanomaterial to use as it is more affordable in comparison. Moreover, it is needed in minimal quantity to strengthen the cement.

When this material is directly poured into the water and then mixed, the small particles contained by the mixture tend to stick together and form a conglomerate. If they do not disperse evenly, then it means that the graphite is not as strong as is needed inside the cement.

The cement mixture can be used in several places like active unconventional wells found in the Marcellus Shale gas play or to seal orphaned or abandoned gas wells. In the future, it may also help in capturing carbon dioxide and create storage for technology.

As the cost of graphite nano-platelets required for these tests is meagre, experts believe that this technology may help afford an economical solution for the industry to address possible cementing problems in the field.