CAMBRIDGE, MA—A new device to help oil and gas companies recover anywhere from five to 50 percent of the oil remaining in a reservoir earned Draper top honors at the Boston Patent Law Association’s annual review of the best patents in New England in 2019. Of the more than 50 nominees, 13 were selected as Honorees and four as Featured Honorees.
In the oil and gas industry, waterflooding or water injection involves injecting water into an oil field, usually to increase pressure and thereby stimulate production. Water injection wells can be found both on- and offshore to increase oil recovery from an existing reservoir. A single production well could have four to 10, or more, injection wells.
Draper’s new device works by adding tracer particles with unique magnetic and fluorescence properties into the fluid injected by each well. As the fluid makes its way from the injector wells to the production well, the device can identify from which injector well the particles came. Determining the fluid flow from an injector well to a production well can greatly enhance the productivity and economics of the development by reducing excess water usage.
The BPLA honored Draper a second time at the event when it recognized a patent for celestial navigation that could be useful in aircraft, satellites and ships. The system combines information derived from multiple sources—including stars and satellites—to yield a more accurate orientation and provide a navigation alternative when GPS is unavailable.
Navigating by the stars is, of course, an ancient art. What’s new, according to the patent, are the improved methods and apparatus for collecting, processing and integrating data into a complete navigational solution. Since filing the original patent, Draper has developed its Skymark™ system to the point where it is ready for a demonstration on a military craft in the summer of 2020. The technology has undergone testing onboard a ship and aircraft and been ruggedized so that it can operate in the harsh, saltwater conditions of the sea and in the extreme environment of high altitude flights.
Draper’s Ben Lane and Will Whitacre were recognized for their work in celestial navigation. Jonathan Bernstein, Julio Guerrero and Mitchell Hansberry, also with Draper, were cited for their accomplishment in injection well identification using tracer particles.
The Boston Patent Law Association, established in 1924, is one of this country’s oldest associations of intellectual property lawyers and professionals. The BPLA’s Invented Here! award highlights inventions made by New England inventors or New England companies.