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LSU professor developing way to detect oil leaks before they cause ecological damage

Jyotsna Sharma.jpg
Posted at 1:03 PM, Jul 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-07 14:03:11-04

A professor of Petroleum Engineering at LSU is working to help detect oil and gas leaks before they can do major damage to human and marine life.

Assistant Professor Jyotsna Sharma is developing a leak detection technique that utilizes quantum-enhanced fiber sensing compatible with current infrastructure in the oil and gas industry.

Sharma is working alongside University of Oklahoma Physics and Astronomy Associate Professor Alberto Marino. The research is being funded by a $750,000 grant from the Department of Energy.

"A major area of concern in the oil and gas industry is preventing environmental contamination caused by subsurface leaks due to well integrity issues and surface spillage through the millions of miles of surface, underground, and subsea pipelines that accrue over years," Sharma said. "This spillage causes ecological damage, human casualties, and economic loss."

Current commercial techniques for leakage detection are limited by environmental and background noise and don't offer enough sensitivity to detect small leaks, according to LSU.

“We will use quantum states of light to enhance the sensitivity of fiber-optic leakage sensors,” she said. "We believe that the recent developments in quantum information science can lead to a paradigm shift in the field with the potential for a large impact for oil and gas applications through improvements in monitoring technology for earlier identification and warning."

Sharma and Marino are working with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory on the three-year project.

After initial testing at the Oak Ridge lab, LSU says the two will test their developed quantum techniques under real-life conditions at the 5,000 ft-deep high-pressure test well at LSU's Petroleum Engineering Research, Training, & Testing, or PERTT, Lab.

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