2018 Industry-Academia Collaboration Award Winner

BP Project Pelican

BP, Upstream Technology - Subsurface Technology Centre (STC), University of Birmingham, School of Chemistry and Kernow Analytical Technology Limited


Primary Team Leads:

Dr Emma Chapman
Dr Emma Chapman (BP) .
Professor Rachel O'Reilly
Professor Rachel O'Reilly (University of Birmingham)

Awarded for the invention and development of a new class of temperature responsive zwitter-ionic polymers for enhanced oil recovery.

About the Project

Project Pelican started as a collaboration between BP and the O'Reilly Group (now at the University of Birmingham) in 2010, following a BP study session organised by the then BP Chief Chemist, Vernon C. Gibson. 

BP was interested in developing polymer particles to reversibly block high permeability zones in oil reservoirs, to give enhanced oil recovery (EOR). The team utilised reversible addition fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) to synthesise and screen a range of thermo-responsive zwitterionic polymers. Two years into the project, application tests under porous flow (sand-pack tests) were required to test the technology and KAT Ltd joined the team to develop these tests. The next four years successfully proved the concept, which now has 1 granted patent and 3 pending patents. BP expanded its team to include support from the group technology business development team and the legal team. Although conventional RAFT synthesis contributed much understanding to the project, the technique was not suitable for application but led to a joint paper in Polymer Chemistry 2014, 5, 1023.

In 2014 a key breakthrough in the project was realised when a 2-stage production process was developed by the team. This allowed the tuning of the response temperature of the particle to be simply adjusted. This has led to the likely realisation of a commercially viable manufacturing route. 

The current stage of the project is moving towards manufacture on the tonne-scale and a field trial. 

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