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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S005560/1
Title: Smart Pulses for Subsurface Engineering
Principal Investigator: Shipton, Professor ZK
Other Investigators:
Stankovic, Professor V Stankovic, Professor L Corney, Professor J
Pytharouli, Dr S McDermott, Professor CI Dempster, Dr B
Perry, Dr M Yang, Dr S
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
British Geological Survey EGS Energy Ltd GEODynamics (Int)
Silixa Ltd The Weir Group plc
Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 November 2018 Ends: 31 October 2024 Value (£): 2,588,248
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Design of Process systems Fluid Dynamics
Oil & Gas Extraction
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Environment Energy
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
24 Jul 2018 Prosperity Partnerships Interview Panel Announced
14 Jun 2018 Prosperity Partnerships Prioritisation Panel 2 - June 2018 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Geological engineering encompasses a range of applications from resource extraction (hydrocarbons, geothermal heat and power, water) to waste disposal (Carbon capture and storage, wastewater disposal) and energy storage (compressed air, hydrogen). All of these technologies rely on pumps to move fluid into or out of boreholes. This prosperity partnership brings together teams that have previously worked on pumps for well stimulation with new team members involved in geomechanics and monitoring systems. Our previous work has shown that the pumps used in well stimulation are often used in very simple ways to deliver a known pressure to the top of the wellbore, leading to inefficient processes that produce a lot of noise and waste. Our partnership aims to re-engineer such systems through three linked research themes. Firstly there is evidence that pulses in pressure or dynamic variations in mean pressure could be more effective in achieving the aims of geological engineering processes. To understand the potential of pulsed pumping we need a deeper understanding of the material response to dynamic variation of the system that is being pumped: the rock mass and the borehole (casing and cement). Secondly we need to understand how to control delivery of precise pressure variations into the borehole and how to monitor these as they travel down the bore and into the rock mass. This includes the need to monitor rock mass response to develop fully 'closed loop' control systems. Finally we want to integrate the systems understanding of the pumps, the pumped system and the control systems. We will trial our new pulse propagation and monitoring system in the UK (at a site where well stimulation will not take place) and test the new monitoring system at an active well stimulation site in N. America. A series of eight linked PhD projects will explore aspects of the problems, and investigate the application of smart pumping to other sectors such as water distribution systems or transport of mining slurry. Our overall goal is to reduce the cost and increase the efficiency of geological engineering through smart pumping, thereby reducing the environmental and social impact of such technologies.

We have brought together a partnership of two industry and two university partners. The Weir Group and University of Strathclyde have a long history of collaboration on well stimulation pumps and other applications. The University of Edinburgh bring unique, world-leading geomechanical experimental capability to the partnership, and have previously collaborated with Strathclyde on carbon storage and compressed air energy storage. Silixa are young company specialising in optical fibres for sensing. Together this partnership will conduct the research that will underpin the development of smarter technologies in pumping and geological engineering.

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Organisation Website: http://www.strath.ac.uk