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Biodegradable drilling lubricant garners positive field results

By Chemical Engineering |

An encapsulated, biodegradable drilling-fluid additive designed to reduce friction on drill bits and piping inside oil wells has been demonstrated successfully in more than 30 wells across North America following its launch in mid-2014. The lubricant product, known as Encapso, was developed by Solazyme Inc. (South San Francisco, Calif.; www.solazyme.com), an industrial biotechnology company that makes renewable oils and products. Solazyme recently announced a partnership with Versalis, the chemical arm of oil-and-gas company Eni S.p.A (Milan, Italy; www.eni.com) whereby Versalis would market Encapso to the oil-and-gas industry. Encapso consists of specifically tailored triglycerides that serve as lubricants inside polysaccharide cells, which serve as an on-demand delivery mechanism. Solazyme uses its proprietary biotechnology platform to convert sugars to triglycerides and encapsulate the triglyceride in a polysaccharide shell. The product is dried to produce a light powder, which is added to oil-drilling fluid at the well site. The encapsulated cells, with their payload of lubricating oils, circulate in the drilling fluid until they encounter areas of high shear stress and friction. At those points, the cells rupture, freeing the…
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