Scientists at a German university developed a method for reducing the hydraulic conductivity of sedimentary or rock layers for the purpose of improving crude oil production. In this process, colloidal goethite iron particles, which are suspended in a liquid, are introduced into the sediment or rock layers via the drilling device. In the pores of the sedimentary or rock layers, the pre- treated particles gather to block the underground preferential flow paths of the water. Blocking the water flow paths optimizes oil production because the flow rate in oil production is thus increased.
In addition, the particles stop propagation of contaminants after accidents and damages. Sediment contamination is prevented or restricted through the introduction of non-toxic particles into the ground and the subsequent reduction of the water flow through the source. A secondary or tertiary degradation of petroleum in aquifers can occur and a progression of contamination in the subsurface can be prevented. The process has already proven itself in source remediation as it blocks possible flow paths in the remediation of heavy metal contaminants.
Industrial licensees from the fields of crude oil exploration and energy and environment engineering are sought to implement the method.