Oil & Gas

Microfluidic technologies are ideal for the development of new test methods to extract crude which can be trapped in porous rock, mixed with contaminants, or be in a dynamic state where the extraction method may have to be altered quickly.

Microfluidic chips allow easy mixing, filtration and optical measurements, high temperature/pressure analysis as well as modelling of fluid flow in porous rock.


Modelling fluid flow in porous rock

Characterization of flow through rock is necessary to be able to effectively extract crude trapped in porous rock. Fluid flow through porous media is very complex and difficult to analyse optically. Crude movement in rocks is limited by parameters such as connectivity and tortuosity. Furthermore, the flow is influenced by complex interactions between the fluids themselves and the geometry and surface of the pore spaces.

Dolomite microfluidic chips can simulate porous rock structure and enable easy monitoring and full visualisation of fluid flow through porous media. Operating over a wide temperature range of -15 ºC up to 150 ºC (250 ºC with custom devices) and pressure range up to 100 bar (300 bar with custom devices), the glass devices offer outstanding chemical resistance allowing a broad range of solvents and chemicals to be used.

Asphaltene measurement in crude

Asphaltenes (n-heptane-insoluble and toluene-soluble components of carbonaceous material) constitute the largest aromatic fraction in petroleum. The level of Asphaltene differs between oil reservoirs, and is regularly used as a quality marker for the oil well. Problems arise when the level of Asphaltene differs within the same well, as this means changing extraction method (hardware changover) during extraction. Therefore, it is of high interest to determine the asphaltene content of crude oil ‘on-site’ in a quick reliable way.

Microfluidic devices allow asphaltene content measurements in less than 30 minutes. Microfluidic devices can measure concentration range of 0.1 to 15 % by weight following with the standard protocol IP143 with high correlations with the ASTM D4124 and ASTM D974-97 methods.

Standardized optical measurements (e.g., ASTM D6560) are used. While this format is suited to miniaturization and point of need analysis, the main benefit of the H-cell method is the capacity to provide new analytical opportunities.


Application Test Method Key Process
Measurement of Asphaltenes in crude-oil Optical absorption technique Asphaltenes are removed from the oil by the addition of n-alkane, leading to flocculation and subsequent filtration. The left over maltenes are then processesed. Mixing, filtration and optical absorption, all done on a microfluidic chip.
Enhanced Oil Recovery – Microfluidics for Rock Characterization. Multiscale Modeling for Enhanced Oil Recovery. Pressure and temperature based pumping/fluid replacement using porous media of various surface types. Emulsion transport/ replacement of oil with water at various temperatures and pressures.
Characterising the asphaltene and Total Acid Number (TAN) carboxylic acid (naphthenic acid) content of crude oil. Diffusion-based separation that is only practical when a sample is manipulated at a microscale and thus is fundamentally different to previous methods for assaying these parameters that utilise solubility- or chromatography-based methods. Produce an asphaltene-free fraction, either hydrocarbon or methanol-soluble, that can be forwarded for further advanced analysis and used to determine asphaltene content and TAN value. Predictable micro-scale mixing of fluids.

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Why choose Dolomite?

Why choose Dolomite?

  • Wide range of chips: enable mixing of fluids, simulation of rock
  • Custom made chips: made to your exact requirements
  • One-stop shop for complete microfluidic system: pumps, chips, sensors, connectors, camera, software, analysis
  • Excellent optical properties: glass allows full visualization and analysis
  • Wide temperature range: -15 ºC up to 150 ºC (250 ºC with custom devices)
  • Wide pressure range: up to 100 bar (300 bar with custom devices)
  • Outstanding chemical resistance
  • Safe, reliable, easy to use systems