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Preface to Nanotechnology for the Oil and Gas Industry

Module by: Andrew R. Barron. E-mail the author

As the population of the world is expected to rise from 6.5 billion in 2004 to nearer 10 billion in 2050, the need for energy is going to increase as a function of population, and this assumes that the present population has enough energy to meet its needs. However, we have over 2 billion people on the planet with no electricity and only biomass for heating fuel. If we cannot provide for our present global community, how can we expect to provide sufficient energy needs for the future population changes? Oil, coal, and natural gas make-up the vast majority of currently available energy—in other words, the majority of our energy demand is met by the combustion of hydrocarbon or carbon-based fuels. While there are arguments as to the limitations of these reserves globally, there is general agreement that obtaining the fuels from the earth is an ever-increasing challenge.

Clearly, if we are to meet the energy needs of the world, new methods must be developed to access heretofore-uneconomic energy sources. A long-term solution will involve the generation of energy from renewable sources, without either the production or the distribution of that energy involving significant pollution or gross consumption of raw materials. In this regard, nanotechnology has a place in the solution for the problem of energy generation, transport, storage, efficiency, and conservation. However, until such a time that all energy and chemical needs are obtained from renewable sources, the efficient recovery of oil and gas is going to be a major challenge of the 21st century.

Given the nature of Connexions, this course is fluid in structure and content. In addition, it contains modules by other authors where appropriate. The content will be updated and expanded with time. If any authors have suitable content, please contact me and I will be glad to assist in transforming the content to a suitable module structure.

Andrew R. Barron

Rice University, Houston, TX 77005. E-mail: arb@rice.edu

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