Downhole Microfluidics: Fundamental Measurements With Challenging Fluids

Matthew Sullivan

Senior Research Scientist

Schlumberger-Doll Research

After receiving his PhD in Physics from Princeton University, Matthew Sullivan joined Schlumberger-Doll Research (SDR) as a Postdoctoral Researcher studying microfluidic measurements appropriate for the oilfield.  He was jointly placed with the group of Howard Stone at Harvard University on the fundamentals of multiphase flow in microfluidic channels.  After joining SDR full time, he worked on novel bio-inspired sensors and continued developing chip-based microfluidic measurements.  More recently, he has worked on migrating these chip-based measurements to a downhole Wireline prototype (MRPV).  Measurements on the prototype include bubble point pressure, asphaltene onset pressure, and dew point pressure.  These prototypes have been tested extensively downhole in the Mideast and more recently in the Gulf of Mexico.  A high degree of automation is necessary to acquire live samples into the microfluidic system, apply a pressure cycle with automatically chosen depressurization rates and pressure targets, interpret the data, flush away the used fluid, and finally to repeat.  These measurements are extremely challenging due to both the high pressure and the necessity of using microfluidics with particle-laden fluids.