Prof. ir. Cor van Kruijsdijk, Sr. Principal Researcher at R&D Physics, Emerging Technologies, Shell IR&D, The Netherlands
The use of microfluidic devices in Shell goes back to the 1980’s where we studied the dynamic behaviour of a brine, H2S, sulphur mixture at subsurface conditions, T=120 [C], p=31 MPa. Here safety was the biggest driver for the choice of microfluidics. Currently we have a focus on chemically enhanced oil recovery where we are studying the fundamental processes of oil displacement by chemically enhanced water. Microfluidic devices are also starting to penetrate other divisions in Shell. Many processes in “New Energies” take place in porous media of one kind or another, batteries, photo-chemical/electrical cells, porous catalytic bed reactors etc. Moreover, microfluidic devices are finding its way in analytical chemistry either for sample preparation and/or direct measurement of fluid properties and composition. A significant part of these processes can be studied using currently available technology. However, some of the catalyst supported gas reactions push past the current operating envelopes of microfluidic devices as they require temperatures upwards of 1000 [C]. Moreover, the currently available spectroscopic methods for in-situ measurements are challenged by the small densities of the gas phase.