JAN 23, 2020
Technicians at the IBM Brasil research laboratory have developed an unprecedented technology that analyzes the flow of liquids, such as water, oil and carbon dioxide, in porous media, such as rocks or soil. IBM FlowDiscovery (FD) aims to reduce the environmental impact caused by the most different industrial processes, from oil extraction to food cultivation. Today, inefficient use of water is one of the biggest problems in food production and energy generation. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), about 6 billion people will live in cities without sufficient water supply by 2050 if current water use and management patterns remain the same. Latin America has an important role in this scenario, as the region brings together about a third of the planet’s water sources, but also suffers from high water waste, mainly due to inefficient use. In fact, a study by the World Bank states that the high waste of treated water and the pollution of rivers, lakes and sources in Latin America limit the availability of water for human consumption, agriculture and industry. In Brazil alone, 2.3 million liters of water for industrial use are removed from the rivers every second.
Regarding the extraction of oil, worldwide, more than 50% of the oil present in the reservoirs is retained in rocky capillaries and cannot be extracted. The waste of scarce natural resources can be drastically reduced using appropriate technologies. Mathias Steiner, principal researcher for the project and manager of IBM Brasil for technology and industrial science, says that “We hope that FlowDiscovery will be widely used to investigate problems involving the flow of liquids, helping to limit the use of valuable resources , like water in the industrial production process. FlowDiscovery can also make it possible to reduce water consumption and optimize soil water retention in agriculture. ”
IBM FlowDiscovery is comprised of cloud-based software that simulates the process of recovering fluids trapped in reservoir rocks. In practice, the technology works in 3 stages: in the first, the user guides the artificial intelligence system in the composition of the complex fluids that will be used in the process. In the second step, based on microscopic image data, the user creates a 3D digital representation of the capillarity network that will allow to simulate the flow of the trapped liquid and create optimized recovery scenarios. In the final step, the user can validate the results of the computer simulation on a dedicated flow device, providing laboratory validation before application in the field.
Solintec is an IBM partner in this project. It is the largest supplier of integrated geological services to the oil and gas sector in Brazil, recognized by IBM Research Brasil as the strategic partner for the co-development of solutions that enable the application of FlowDiscovery and advanced techniques in the recovery work. Petroleum. The goal is to create and implement a process for FlowDiscovery that takes advantage of existing data on oil exploration, specifically oil well records and geological analysis, to create high-precision computer simulations.
“For a geoscientist, understanding the composition of the rocks that form the oil reservoirs is a great challenge. We want to develop a joint business model that will allow the application of FlowDiscovery in the Oil and Gas sector ”, says Felix Gonçalves, director of business development at Solintec. “I believe that, together, we will develop a commercial scale solution with great potential to transform the oil extraction process, with positive impacts on the environment.”