GaN NMR Spectrometer Integrated Circuits Towards Broadly Distributed On-line Monitoring and Management of Subsurface Oil/Gas Reservoirs and Downstream

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OPEN 2018
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Project Term:
07/22/2019 - 07/21/2024

Technology Description:

Harvard University will develop a compact NMR system to provide detailed information on composition and environment in subsurface oil exploration and production. By building the electronics for the system with gallium-nitride-based integrated circuitry, the team seeks to greatly miniaturize the NMR system, reducing both the volume and weight by two orders of magnitude, and enabling it to withstand the high temperatures found in a deep drill hole. The proposed technology will place the majority of the essential NMR electronics on a single board. This will reduce the complexity and bulkiness of commercially available NMR logging tools, driving down the system’s cost and size.

Potential Impact:

Miniaturized NMR can be applied to subsurface oil exploration, production management, shipping, pipelining, mixing, refinery, storage, and distributions, with an overall expected energy impact of 2.5 quads (a quad is one quadrillion BTUs, equivalent to 45 million tons of coal, 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, or 170 million barrels of crude oil) per year in the U.S.


Increased access to domestic energy sources like unconventional oil and natural gas would diversify the country’s energy portfolio, strengthening its ability to withstand shocks and disruptions.


Miniaturized downhole NMR systems will enable highly precise characterization of geological formations for the U.S. industry oil and gas industry. They will also help increase the availability of efficient, distributed monitoring of Earth’s subsurface, transforming the way oil is discovered and produced in mature fields, deep water fields, and unconventional oil/gas (e.g., shale) reservoirs.


In addition to the upstream industry, miniaturized NMR systems will innovate downstream applications such as shipping, pipelining, mixing, refinery, storage, and distributions.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Olga Spahn
Project Contact:
Prof. Donhee Ham
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