Qinhong "Max" Hu, an associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, recently entered into a sponsored research agreement with a leading oil and gas company located in Houston. He receives $200,000 for the next year to study nanopetrophysics associated with hydrocarbon, or oil and gas, production in shale formations.
Dr. Hu's group will study how fluids move through the tiniest spaces below ground in hopes of increasing the efficiency of drilling for so-called "tight oil." Nanopetrophysics includes examination of the nano-scale pore structure of shale formations and how fluids are transported through that structure. Because of the extremely low permeability of the shale in which it is found, tight oil typically requires unconventional drilling techniques such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.
For the past three years, Dr. Hu was principal investigator on $625,000 in grants to study the fracture-matrix interaction in gas recovery in North Texas' Barnett Shale. Hu also recently completed an invitational fellowship at the University of Tokyo with the Japan Society for the Promotion of Sciences.
Photo: Pictured are Dr. Hu (to the left), Troy Barber (a UTA geology senior and lab assistant), and visiting scientist Dr. Xubo Gao.