Rockin’ the Scales: A Petroleum Engineer’s View

Submission 2024

This illustration offers a visual tour of some common substances from nanometers to thousands of meters in petroleum engineering.
Submitted by:Lixing Lin
Department:Civil and Environmental Engineering

The term “petroleum” finds its roots in the Latin words “petra,” meaning rock, and “oleum,” meaning oil. To effectively extract oil from rocks deep under the earth, petroleum engineers traverse vast scales, spanning from thousands of meters down to the infinitesimal realm of nanometers.

This captivating illustration encapsulates this expansive journey, offering a visual tour of some common substances and concepts in petroleum engineering. From the trajectory of wellbores, stretching across thousands of meters, to the intricate hydrocarbons at the nanoscale in the tight rocks, each element depicted here showcases the breadth and depth of knowledge required in the field.

The confinement experienced within tight rocks exerts a profound influence on the phase behavior of fluids, impacting properties such as vapor pressure and critical points. In my research, I am dedicated to developing mathematical models aimed at accurately describing the phase behavior of hydrocarbons within nanopores, a crucial endeavor in advancing our understanding of petroleum engineering processes.

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