This innovation is a method and system for evaluating the status and response of a mineral-producing field (e.g., oil and/or gas) by monitoring selected chemical and physical properties in or adjacent to a well site headspace. Nanotechnology sensors and other sensors are provided for one or more underground (fluid) mineral-producing well sites to determine the presence/absence of each of two or more target molecules in the fluid; relative humidity, temperature, and/or fluid pressure adjacent to the well site; and flow direction and flow velocity for the fluid. The nanosensor measures an electrical parameter value and estimates a corresponding environmental parameter value, such as water content or hydrocarbon content. The system is small enough to be located down-hole in each mineral-producing horizon for the well site.

This invention relates to use of nano-technology-based chemical sensors to evaluate chemical and physical parameters associated with oil or gas well exploration, development, and operation. One or more nanostructures (NS), including, but not limited to, carbon nanostructures in a NS array is coated or doped with a selected chemical substance. The chemical substance is chosen so that when an environment with a selected environmental parameter value is present, a selected electrical parameter will have a corresponding measured parameter value, which preferably varies monotonically with the electrical parameter value. Alternatively, measurement of a single electrical parameter value may correspond to values of each of a group of distinct environmental parameters.

This technology will provide two-dimensional fluid measurements by monitoring the chemical composition in the gas or liquid phase, and the physical properties of oil level in the wells to have comprehensive digital information from each well that distributed in the reservoir with a horizontal extent of around 1 to 10 mi (1.6 to 16 km) and 2 to 2,000 ft (0.6 to 600 m) in depth.

This work was done by Jing Li and Meyya Meyyappan of Ames Research Center. NASA is actively seeking licensees to commercialize this technology. Please contact Trupti Sanghani at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 650-604-6889 to initiate licensing discussions. Follow this link for more information: . ARC-15566-3

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the September, 2016 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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