Kazan Federal University

Kazan Federal UniversityKazan Federal University

Irek Mukhamatdinov obtains Presidential Award for Science and Innovation

Senior Research Associate of the Laboratory of Enhanced Oil Recovery is among the recipients of one of the most prestigious commendations in the country.

Mukhamatdinov is awarded for his research of catalysts of aquathermolysis for enhanced oil recovery.

The awardee says that he has been a chemistry connoisseur since high school. After graduating from the university in 2011, he joined Kazanorgsintez, the city’s largest chemical plant, and enrolled in the then newly opened PhD program in viscous oil and natural bitumen. His PhD thesis was about an adhesion additive for road bitumen – the invention has been patented and tested in real-life conditions in Tatarstan.

As for his current research, in the last five years it has passed all stages from an idea to test production batches of catalysts. The first tests were performed in 2018 by local oil powerhouse Tatneft, later the same was done by Zarubezhneft and RITEK.

With Tatneft, the team works on a technology of combined use of catalysts and hydrogen-generating agents. With that, the conversion depth for heavy components can be increased.

With RITEK, research is ongoing on new modifications of aquathermolysis catalysts to initiate the conversion of carbon dioxide into light fractions.

Vice-Rector for Earth Sciences Danis Nurgaliev explains, “KFU started working on this topic in 2014. First, it was drill sample testing with various types of viscous oils. Previously, such research had been undertaken in China and Canada. We then started to seek options for practical testing and found partners in 2019. So we already have five successful tests of the technology. Five years is a short timeframe, and this has been possible thanks to talented teams headed by Aleksey Vakhin and Mikhail Varfolomeev and our top-notch laboratory equipment. Irek Mukhamatdinov has personally arranged on-site tests. This group is one of the most productive in its area in the world. They have authored hundreds of papers.”

Dr Nurgaliev adds that the tests have shown several unexpected outcomes. First, the decrease in the ratio of sulfur. Second, the liquefied oil started working as a solvent – it dissolves other volumes of oil when moving along a deposit. The scientists are currently studying various effects with the use of steam, ultra high frequency radiation, and acoustics for catalysis.

Mikhail Varfolomeev opines, “Irek Mukhamatdinov’s body of work is indeed unique. Kazan University is among the leaders in this field in the world. It’s important that this project has been supported at such a high level. The results are used both in research in education, where Mukhamatdinov shares his knowledge of new technology with students.”

Aleksey Vakhin speaks about industrial use of the technology, “Irek Mukhamatdinov and the team of the In-Situ Combustion Lab have conducted work on scaling up the production of aquathermolysis catalysts and arranging industrial production. We continue improving the aquathermolysis technology and catalytic in-situ processes. The next stage is studying sulfur-containing compounds in-situ and ways of neutralizing them during recovery.”

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