Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering

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Dr. Hui Zhao Receives Grant from the American Chemical Society

Posted: June 20, 2011

Las Vegas – It was recently announced that UNLV Assistant Professor, Dr. Hui Zhao, has been awarded a Petroleum Research Grant from the American Chemical Society, for $100,000. These funds are awarded to support Dr. Zhao’s research in the area of water encroachment around oil wells and will support the research for a period of two years. Dr. Zhao states, “If water can be detected before it approaches the well, flow in to the well may be controlled to prevent or minimize water coning and oil production can be significantly enhanced.”

Dr. Zhao explains that the central goal of this proposal is to gain fundamental knowledge necessary to design a new technique that will monitor water approaching oil production wells using electrokinetic phenomena through a combined theoretical and experimental approach. He proposes the use of a mathematical model and supporting experiments, which will help to understand the nature of the electrokinetic coupling coefficient. Basically, one could extract flow information from electric signals. In this way, water can be detected before it approaches the well, flow into the well may be controlled to prevent or minimize water intrusion, greatly increasing the production of the well. Often water intrusion leads to the forced closure of oil wells rendering them useless until water levels recede.

The American Chemical Society Doctoral Grant New Investigator grants program aims to promote the careers of young faculty by supporting research of a highly scientific caliber. With more than 163,000 members, the American Chemical Society (ACS) is the world’s largest scientific society and one of the world’s leading sources of authoritative scientific information. A nonprofit organization, chartered by Congress, ACS is at the forefront of the evolving worldwide chemical enterprise and the premier professional home for chemists, chemical engineers and related professions around the globe. The ACS has awarded $25.1 million dollars in Petroleum Research Grants.

Located at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, the Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering provides research and academic programs to more than 1,600 undergraduate and over 250 graduate students. With more than 70 full-time faculty, and six departments, the college's goals are to provide a quality undergraduate learning experience in engineering and computer science; strengthen and enhance the graduate experience; focus knowledge, discovery, integration, and application in strategic areas; integrate research and education; and to promote and enable partnerships with the private and public sectors.