A History of Success

Based in Houston, Texas, Nissan Chemical America Corporation is a division of Nissan Chemical Corporation founded in Japan in 1887. A forerunner in chemical innovations for more than 130 years, Nissan Chemical has been perfecting nanoparticle technology since 1951, making it one of the first companies in the world to produce highly surface-modified colloidal particles for industrial applications.


What is nanotechnology?

Nanotechnology refers mainly to engineered particles that range from 1–100 nanometers in size. A nanometer (nm) is one-billionth of a meter, equivalent to one-millionth of a millimeter, and one-thousandth of a micron. For comparison, a piece of copy paper is 100 microns thick — in nanometers this is 100,000nm thick. A human hair is about 75 microns in diameter or 75,000nm. Also, a red blood cell is 5 microns wide, this is 5,000nm.

Nano Scale Comparison

What is Femto scale? Isn’t smaller better?

A Femtometer is one-millionth of a nanometer. When used appropriately, this size scale is used to describe subatomic particles. For example, a proton is about 1 femtometer in size.

Subatomic particles don’t typically exist outside of atoms in nature. It is not appropriate to use femtometers to describe normal inorganic or organic molecules — these are typically angstroms, nanometers, or micrometers in size.

“Femtotechnology”, for now, has no practical application and is considered hypothetical by futuristic scientists and engineers.

What is Sodium Metasilicate?

Sodium metasilicate is Na₂SiO₃, a form of waterglass. The molecules of this chemical are of the normal angstrom or nanometer scale. Also known in the dissolved form as waterglass — it is a reactive chemical used for sealing pores and causing colloidal particles to sediment out of solution. The most common use in oilfield chemistry is in drilling fluids as a borehole stabilizer — where the pore sealing properties are useful. When exposed to variable pH, dissolved alkali earth metals (like calcium or dissolved salts of calcium) or dissolved organic materials, Na₂SiO₃ is prone to polymerization. This is the main reason it is used as a borehole stabilizer and even as a zone sealant/water shutoff agent.

What types of chemistries are safe to use downhole?

Materials that are not prone to polymerization are safe to use downhole. Sodium silicates are reactive and prone to polymerization — this is exactly what makes them useful in many other commercial applications. This tendency makes them dangerous to use downhole. These materials are an excellent choice for plugging and sealing pores in sandstone, and carbonate lithologies — not for removing more oil and gas from your well. Some major oilfield companies have patented the use of sodium silicate/waterglass type chemistry for stopping, reducing, or modifying pathways for fluid flow.

How do surfactants work and why is nanotechnology better?

Surfactants are nanometer and angstrom scale organic molecules that have a water-loving side and an oil-loving side of the molecule. This dual property is what makes them good at making oily type molecules more soluble in water. The oil-loving side of a surfactant molecule can associate with an oily molecule (crude oil) and the water-loving side of the surfactant molecule makes the whole thing dissolve in water better. This dual property also allows surfactants to alter wettability of certain rock formations.

Nanotechnology consistently outperforms traditional surfactant technology because of the physical/mechanical mechanisms involved. Nanoparticles are often also naturally attracted to the oil-water interface. nanoActiv® takes advantage of this tendency and employs diffusion-driven Brownian motion to wedge hydrocarbons from rock surfaces. Surfactants simply attempt to coax hydrocarbons out using a chemical effect. nanoActiv® reaches deep and uses a brute-force physical effect to drive oil from the formation.

Do nanoActiv® particles come back with the oil?

Due to the way they are designed (hydrophilic), nanoActiv® particles might show up in the produced water, but not in the oil. The quantities likely to return are very small, based on field data. As such, there is no impact on oil specifications or on refineries.

Can nanoActiv® be useful without frac’ing?

Yes. Frac’ing is only one application out of many, but is where the positive impact of using nanoActiv® has been demonstrated in hundreds of wells. nanoActiv® can be used in already frac’ed wells, depleted wells, and in many other cases.