Søren Dollerup

Prolonging the life time of subsurface cements with bacteria

Wednesday 24 May 17
The subsurface environmental conditions in oil well cement installations in the North Sea are characterized by a lack of oxygen, high temperature, high pH and high pressure. Combined, these stressors challenge the growth and survival of most bacteria. However, certain extremophilic bacteria thrive under such conditions and if utilized correctly such bacteria can be used to develop cements that are able to “self-heal” under subsurface conditions resulting in a prolonged lifetime of cements in deep offshore production facilities.

By modifying the technique already in use in the cements used in surface environments PhD at Århus University, Søren Dollerup is working on developing cements that are able to “self-heal” under subsurface conditions.

“We will embed the endospores of bacteria in tiny capsules together with the necessary nutrients and incorporate them into the cement. The endospores will germinate, metabolize and precipitate calcium carbonate when cracks occur, effectively healing them. The goal is to prolong the life time of cements in deep offshore production facilities,” says Søren Dollerup.

It is well established that bacteria embedded in a cement matrix can repair cracks in above ground structures by inducing the precipitation of calcium carbonate. The extreme conditions in the subsurface of the North Sea are however not making this task easy to solve. Among others, the researchers have to overcome a lack of oxygen, high pressure and the challenges of producing capsules that will protect the bacteria in the cement matrix.

Read more about how Søren is working at Aarhus University to overcome these challenges here.

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23 JUNE 2018