New Technologies from UT Austin

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CII Performance Assessment System

‎Tuesday, ‎April ‎04, ‎2017, ‏‎10:42:53 AM | jjain@otc.utexas.edu

CII’s (Construction Industry Institute’s) PAS Program makes the gathering of project performance data efficient for CII. On the back end, the Key Report and Data Mining functionality of PAS makes getting project performance information out of the system very easy for CII’s member organizations. PAS contains over 200 key performance indicators (KPIs) which can be filtered by over 200 separate criteria and variables in the Data Miner. This is done in real time with a customized display of quartiles for each metric selected. For CII, PAS greatly lowers the number of data requests completed, saving valuable time preparing customized analyses for each CII member organization. For the member companies, PAS allows for the creation of custom analyses of project performance data in CII’s database. It also contains industry-specific extensions for upstream oil and gas projects, healthcare projects, and pharmaceutical and biotechnology projects. Intended users are any facility owner or general contractor that plans and executes capital projects in the industrial, commercial building, and heavy civil construction sectors.

Very Large DRAM Based TLB

‎Friday, ‎March ‎24, ‎2017, ‏‎11:56:45 AM | msaenz@otc.utexas.edu

This invention proposes to build very large Translation Look-aside Buffers (VL-TLBs) that may be stored in DRAM. While DRAM access is slow, only one access is required instead of up to 24 accesses required in many modern virtualized systems. Even if many of the 24 accesses may hit in the special paging structures, the aggregated cost of the many hits plus the overhead of the occasional misses from the paging structures still exceeds the cost of the one memory access to the VL-TLB. Additionally, it might be possible to implement the VL-TLB in emerging technologies such as the die-stacked DRAM with bandwidth and slight latency advantages. The miss penalty of VL-TLB is high since page table walk has to wait until the latency of fetching an entry from DRAM. The hit/miss outcome can only be identified after entries are completely retried from L3 TLB. The penalty of an L3 TLB miss can be reduced using a predictor indexed by program counter and address offset.

Method for Prevention of Shale Fracture Hydration During Well Stimulation by Hydraulic Fracturing

‎Tuesday, ‎March ‎14, ‎2017, ‏‎10:09:22 AM | yenayoo@otc.utexas.edu

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin developed a method to protect the water-sensitive clay fabric and maximize back-production of water during hydraulic fracturing of hydrocarbon-bearing shales. The invention exploits the reverse solubility characteristics of cloud-point glycols (CPGs), which become insoluble and form a separate non-polar phase when temperature is increased. CPG polymers are mixed with fracturing water, remaining in solution until the fluids invade deeper into shale pores. When exposed to higher in-situ temperatures, the CPG polymers separate from the solution to form an emulsion block in the shale pores which inhibits hydration of the clay fabric. Clay swelling and proppant embedding are prevented, which in turn improves hydrocarbon production rates and ultimate hydrocarbon recovery. Because the shale is protected, more water will be recovered upon flowing back the well, which will minimize water-locking of small fractures and open up the fracture networks for production. The higher water recovery will aid in the re-use of water for subsequent fracturing jobs. The CPG emulsion blocks are oleophilic, allowing the polymers to rapidly mix with and dissolve in hydrocarbons. When the well is brought on production, the flow of hydrocarbons from the clay fabric to the fracture clears the CPG emulsion blocks and allows production to carry on in an unrestricted manner.

Multiple Materials Systems For Selective Beam Sintering

‎Wednesday, ‎March ‎01, ‎2017, ‏‎5:42:08 PM | yenayoo@otc.utexas.edu

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have proposed a powder material approach by which structural parts may be fabricated through a particular method of selective beam sintering. Powder of one material is coated with a lower melting/dissociation temperature material. The powder mass is then processed using selective beam sintering. This step is analogous to liquid-phase sintering, in which the low-temperature phase(s) melt first and infiltrate the powder mass locally. Capillarity effects control beam interaction volume, while epitaxial growth of the coating material is limited by the low temperature phase(s). During secondary processing of the material, the low-temperature phase(s) can be diffused into high-temperature phase(s) or vaporized to produce a structure of high-temperature material. Improved control of molten zones and epitaxial growth allows for the fabrication of metal and ceramic parts, as well as the application of other physical properties, such as electrical insulation. Overall, the proposed method for selective beam sintering allows for a greater range of possible products, which can vary by material or porous structure. Another approach to improving the strength of sintered products is the use of an electrostatic field across a dielectric powder. The result is the application of external pressure that does not interfere with the laser radiation, but successfully levels the powder layers for enhanced sintering.

Soybean-Based Fiber Production Without Solvent or Heat Usage

‎Wednesday, ‎March ‎01, ‎2017, ‏‎5:39:16 PM | yenayoo@otc.utexas.edu

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have formulated a process in which soybean-based fibers can be successfully produced without the use of solvents or heat. Based on current research and experimentation, it appears that photopolymerization of monomer liquids proves to be a more efficient and safer route to fiber production as opposed to current methods, which use non-renewable resources and require excessive amounts of solvent and thermal energy. The invented process for fiber production can also be tailored to other fiber manufacturing processes, such as melt blowing. Various procedures have confirmed that the production process is advantageous due to the use of high-functionality monomers, while produced soybean-based fibers are of optimal quality.

A method for improving recovery of oil in subsurface formations using nanoparticle-stabilized emulsions of natural gas liquids in water

‎Wednesday, ‎March ‎01, ‎2017, ‏‎3:19:24 PM | yenayoo@otc.utexas.edu

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a technique for recovering residual oil using nanoparticle-stabilized emulsions of natural gas liquids in water. Natural gas liquids are often considered a waste product during oil and gas refining, and as such production is very inexpensive. The emulsions are stabilized using hydrophilic silica nanoparticles, which are also inexpensive to produce. The proposed recovery technique leads to a significantly enhanced residual oil mobility, resulting in up to 93% recovery of residual oil. This presents a tremendous improvement over existing methods, particularly those aimed at recovery of heavy oil.

Salinity-Sensitive Polymeric Particles for EOR

‎Wednesday, ‎March ‎01, ‎2017, ‏‎3:16:48 PM | yenayoo@otc.utexas.edu

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed salinity-sensitive polymeric particles (SSPP) that improve oil mobility by successfully sweeping the oil trapped in the matrix of a reservoir. The microparticles swell in deionized water and shrink in more saline brine, allowing for size manipulation of the particles. The goal of this invention is to block fractures and thief zones of fractured reservoirs and to divert injected EOR fluids into the matrix or low permeability zones, ultimately resulting in improved oil recovery. The SSPPs are first injected into the well in saline brine, allowing the particles to flow into fractures rather than the matrix of a reservoir due to the matrix pores being too small for the particles to enter. A lower salinity brine is then injected, which swells the SSPPs and decreases the fluid conductivity of the fractures. The blockage of the reservoir’s fractures allows for any following injections of an oil-displacing agent to flow into the matrix or other low-permeability zones. This EOR method is superior to current methods because the utilized cross-linked polymers tend to also enter the matrix of a reservoir and block them to some extent. Other polymeric particles, such as those that are temperature- or time-sensitive, do not swell as effectively as the SSPPs.

Further enhanced screening curve tool

‎Wednesday, ‎February ‎22, ‎2017, ‏‎5:09:57 PM | jjain@otc.utexas.edu

The Further Enhanced Screening Curve Tool is an intuitive and fast model that estimates the least-cost generation mix for generation planning purposes. It is able to calculate an economically adapted generation mix for a target load duration curve within a few seconds. Innovations in this tool include the representation of existing capacity and the consideration of maintenance outages.

Gemini Surfactant Structures for Enhanced Oil Recovery

‎Wednesday, ‎February ‎22, ‎2017, ‏‎2:59:49 PM | yenayoo@otc.utexas.edu

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a novel crafted class of Gemini anionic surfactants for use in chemical EOR applications that can be applied at concentrations an order of magnitude lower than conventional sulfonate surfactants, cutting down the cost of the surfactant. This new composition can be used for recovery of a large range of crude oil compositions from even the most challenging reservoirs. These surfactants yield ultra-low interfacial tension at high salinity and/or high hardness ion concentrations. The surfactants have been shown to perform well at salinities up to 250,000 ppm and hardness ion concentrations up to 20,000 ppm. Another potential advantage of these surfactants is their ability to viscosify the aqueous phase under certain conditions of temperature and salinity.

Contact Angle Measurements Between Rocks or Minerals and Two Fluids at High Pressure and Temperature Using X-ray Imaging of Capillaries and Plates

‎Wednesday, ‎February ‎22, ‎2017, ‏‎1:01:03 PM | yenayoo@otc.utexas.edu

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have proposed a method that allows for the conduction of contact angle measurements under ambient conditions typical of deep geological environments. Through this method, the contact angle defined by a solid-fluid pair interface can be measured while maintaining precision and experimental control that increase the reliability of results. The invented technique ensures that capillary forces, whose balance controls the contact angle, dominate the fluid system to ultimately result in more valid measurements. The technique is particularly suitable for situations in which one fluid is supercritical, or characterized by low density and high viscosity. The technique utilizes X-ray imaging, which is a readily and increasingly available technology. Thus, there is no need to purchase expensive specialized equipment for the implementation of this novel technique.

Novel Solution to Problematic UV Darkening of Electrochromic Glass

‎Tuesday, ‎February ‎14, ‎2017, ‏‎2:59:14 PM | lnichols@otc.utexas.edu

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a novel concept to block the intrinsic photochromic mechanism of WO3 that causes UV darkening. The invention utilizes a very thin (<10 nm) conformal coating of high-dielectric and ion-conducting material as a protective layer on the electrochromic WO3 film. This thin protective layer efficiently shuts off photochromism by blocking the hole-transfer while it still allows the transfer of ions required for the electrochromic switching.

Photo-Assisted Charging for Electrochromic Devices

‎Tuesday, ‎February ‎14, ‎2017, ‏‎2:52:39 PM | lnichols@otc.utexas.edu

In working with WO3 electrochromic materials, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a film designed to power itself in the presence of sunlight. WO3 is known as a wide bandgap semiconductor, capable of absorbing solar energy and converting it to electrons. These electrons could be transferred and stored at a counter electrode such as CeO2, essentially creating a solar cell battery used to power a smart window.

Transparent conducting oxide films of heterogeneous dopant distribution

‎Tuesday, ‎February ‎14, ‎2017, ‏‎2:39:07 PM | lnichols@otc.utexas.edu

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a concept for fabricating highly conductive TCO films by achieving high mobility while having high carrier concentrations. Nanocomposite films composed of doped/undoped metal oxide show high mobility which are comparable to that of undoped metal oxide, and also show high carrier concentration from the doped region.

Bringing Micro- and Nano-scale Technologies to the Masses

‎Wednesday, ‎February ‎01, ‎2017, ‏‎10:28:21 AM | lnichols@otc.utexas.edu

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed many Massive Open Online Course offerings which have become very popular and provided opportunities for students around the world to access high-level instruction on challenging technical material. To address the lack of access to hands-on experimentation, typically provided as part of the on-campus curriculum, the researchers have developed hand-held, individualized kits that are designed to enable practical application of the scientific aspects of micro and nanotechnologies, such as wafer processing, integrated circuit manufacturing, and solar cell fabrication.

Membraneless Seawater Desalination with a Bipolar Electrode

‎Friday, ‎January ‎27, ‎2017, ‏‎12:11:47 PM | lnichols@otc.utexas.edu

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a novel, membraneless desalination process utilizing microfluidics to channel high salinity water to a microelectrode positioned at the intersection of the inlet channel and two outlet channels. Under an applied voltage, and in the presence of a flow of saltwater, the microelectrode generates an electric field gradient, which preferentially directs ions in the saltwater into one channel, while the desalted water flows to the other. The concept, called electrochemically mediated desalination (EMD), can be scaled and made massively parallel through standard integrated-circuit manufacturing techniques to generate large, stackable, arrays that would be able to generate meaningful volumes of fresh water from high-salinity feed, using relatively low amounts of electrical energy.

Block copolymers for sub-10 nm patterning

‎Tuesday, ‎January ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎6:06:39 PM | lnichols@otc.utexas.edu

A block copolymer comprising a unique monomer together with a monomer containing silicon that generates well-formed lamella structures that can be used to produce patterns that are 10nm and below in width, useful for manufacturing advanced devices.

Novel Material for Safe and Efficient Storage of Gases

‎Tuesday, ‎January ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎6:05:04 PM | lnichols@otc.utexas.edu

The effectiveness of porous carbons as gas sorbers has been associated in the past with their specific surface areas and pore sizes. However, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have tailored a carbon surface such that it sorbs gases via interaction with polar nitrogen-containing functional groups on its surface.

Nanowires and Methods of Making and Using

‎Tuesday, ‎January ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎5:47:10 PM | edawson@otc.utexas.edu

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a novel synthetic route for copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) nanorods and nanowires. CIGS nanoparticles are currently being tested in photovoltaic devices, and using nanowires could offer improvement upon that approach.

Silicon Quantum Dot Optical Probes

‎Tuesday, ‎January ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎5:44:50 PM | edawson@otc.utexas.edu

Researchers from The University of Texas at Austin have developed a way to increase the light absorption of the quantum dots, while retaining the unique light-emitting properties of the quantum dots leading to a significantly brighter material.

Transparent Dielectric-Core Antenna

‎Tuesday, ‎January ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎5:43:01 PM | edawson@otc.utexas.edu

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have suggested the use of dielectric-core antennas surrounded by patterned metallic meta-surfaces to realize radio-transparent antennas. The proposed mantle cover acts as a conductive medium for surface current to flow and efficiently radiate fields driven by a power source. It has been also been shown that the cloaking cover can strongly reduce the electrical presence of a dielectric-core dipole antenna to nearby systems, in principle, at any desired frequency band.

A Method for Automated Surface Measurement of Drilling Fluid Rheological Properties

‎Tuesday, ‎January ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎5:41:10 PM | yenayoo@otc.utexas.edu

The proposed invention is a pipe rheometer that measures drilling fluid rheological parameters in real time at the rig site. Although the concept of a pipe rheometer is not new, this method has never been applied on the rig site for real-time monitoring of drilling fluid properties. All recent attempts toward drilling fluid automation focused on the modification of existing rotational rheometers for automated rheology measurements rather than introducing a new approach. Current advances in technology, such as the invention of accurate flow meters and pressure transducers, enable the usage of a portion of pipe at the surface of a well for automated rheology measurements. Installation of rotational rheometers is costly and ineffective with significant technical drawbacks. The proposed pipe rheometer has simple implementation on the rig site, in which installation of accurate pressure transducers on an existing flowline allows for easy setup. This invention is a major step towards achieving an effective fully-automated mud measurement and monitoring system that removes the need for direct human interaction.

Conversion of Organic-Based Drilling Muds to Well Cement Using Alkali-Activated Materials

‎Tuesday, ‎January ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎5:39:07 PM | yenayoo@otc.utexas.edu

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a material and method for the solidification of organic-based drilling fluids through the use of alkali-activated geopolymers to form a pumpable and settable well cement. This method of blending organic-based muds with geopolymers is a previously unknown method for recycling mud for the improvement of geopolymer pumpability. Combining organic-based drilling fluids with geopolymers improves the rheological properties of geopolymer cement, reducing the slurry’s viscosity while retaining the geopolymer’s uncontaminated strength. Even when contaminated by the drilling muds, the produced cement is pumpable and settable. The material has the ability to solidify in the presence of various amounts of organic-based mud, making it ideal for cementing operations in which the cement can be designed to attain varied strength values based on the needs of the cementing job. For example, higher-strength material is beneficial for primary cementing while lower-strength material is ideal for lost-circulation control.