The DOE, via a Shale Gas Advisory Subcommittee, issued a 41 page report on August 11, 2011. Among the various important findings, we noted near the end the R&D finding at pages 30-33. The Report noted, for example:
- an additional area of focus should be "development of "green" drilling and fracturing fluids."
- multiple-well pad drilling is one significant advance.
- areas where government can and should contribute such as environmental and safety studies and longer term R&D (e.g., research on methane hydrates).
Media provides further analysis of the Report’s key findings. The DOE also reviews the report.
Monitoring patent literature will be an important effort to monitor shale gas innovation. Also on August 11, the US PTO published a dozen hydraulic fracturing patent applications. This included a series of five Haliburton Energy Services, Inc. patent publications relating to use of small tech MEMS sensors. Our growing data base of shale gas U.S. patents for 2011 alone now numbers 131 through August 2, 2011.
Hydraulic fracturing patenting continues to grow, including technology related to nanotech and cleantech. For example, on last Thursday, June 23, 2011, the US PTO published 13 new US patent applications which refer to hydraulic fracturing. That brings the total to 184 for 2011, which prorated annually is 383 for 2011 - far higher than the average for the past six years (259). Nine of the 13 publications focus on chemistry and materials.
Two patent publications list General Electric as assignee and relate to separating oil from water (2011/0147316 and 2011/0147306).
One patent publication from Schlumberger Technology Corp relates to nanotechnology, "Delivery of Nanodispersions Below Ground" (2011/0146974). Last week also featured another filing on use of graphene (2011/0144386, June 16, 2011, from Professor James Tour et al. and Rice University).
Other listed assignees include Baker Hughes, Halliburton Energy, and Petro-Hunt.
The abstract for the Schlumberger patent publication on nanodispersions is below.
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Two more hydraulic fracturing patents were granted this week (Tuesday, June 14, 2011). Each patent was assigned to Halliburton Energy Services based on information on the cover of the patent. The term "Halliburton" now appears in 502 granted US patents which also use the term "hydraulic patenting," establishing Halliburton as a leading company for patenting in this arena.
The patent numbers were 7,960,316 and 7,960,315, and the patents related to corrosion resistance and to gellation agents.
Halliburton provides more information about its hydraulic fracturing operations on its website, attached below, including its CleanSuite(TM) technology.
Hydraulic fracturing-related patenting efforts continue to grow. For example, six new patent applications published this past Thursday (June 9, 2011) which refer to hydraulic fracturing (see below). Not surprisingly, many of the inventors are from Texas. Water treatment is a theme for two of the patent applications. The Obama administration continues to study hydraulic fracturing as it has become a core element in energy policy (see (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/07/science/earth/07frack.html). The administration should urgently fund innovation to supplement private sector efforts in this arena.
We provide more insights into the connections between hydraulic fracturing and nanotechnology, building on our April 28, 2011 blog posting. As before, we focus on patenting as a leading indicator on the commercial ideas floating in the public domain. In our prior post, we focused on patent publications; here, we focus on granted patents. Nanotechnology connections can be found in the nanopores through which gas or oil flows, in nanoparticles and proppant design, in nanosensors, in nanofiltration.
In brief, a rapid rise in patent activity is evident. For example, while 178 granted US patents show use of the terms "hydraulic fracturing" and "nano$," about two-thirds (67%) were granted in 2009-2011 (present, as of June 2, 2011). Even more, 83% were granted in the past five years (2006-2011, again, as of June 2, 2011).
A survey of the patents confirmed that many of the patents are substantively indicative of the connection between hydraulic fracturing and nanotechnology. For example, USP 7,772,163 is for lightweight proppants (BJ Services). We are currently examining more the categories of patents.
Scott E. Rickert of Nanofilm has also recently written about connections between nanotechnology and gas and oil recovery (March 18, 2011, see http://www.industryweek.com/articles/nanotech_and_middle_east_revolution_24153.aspx?Page=1).