A global effort is underway to harness energy sources that can satisfy humans’ increasing hunger for energy with a lower impact on the planet than fossil fuels have.
For example, Kenya is the world’s eighth-largest producer of geothermal power and has more geothermal capacity under construction than any other country.
At The University of Tulsa, Eduardo Pereyra (MS ’06, PhD ’11) is taking a leading role in the energy expansion charge. According to Pereyra, instead of abandoning current energy sources such as oil and natural gas, the world is entering an era of energy growth and diversification.
“My research sits at the intersection of Earth’s growing human population and people’s desire to enjoy a good quality of life,” Pereyra noted. “The guiding question is how to respond to these issues with an environmentally sound increase in the energy supply. We need to use all types of energy available, while also minimizing emissions as much as possible.”
Compounding the challenge, he explained, is the fact that demand for energy fluctuates, which requires flexible generation and storage systems.
Drawing on his expertise in petroleum engineering, part of Pereyra’s research program entails the transportation of hydrogen and carbon dioxide (CO2). For example, working with his colleague Cem Sarica (PhD ’90), Pereyra is evaluating current tools for the design of CO2 transportation systems. Their investigations focus on the behavior of CO2 and impurities flowing down in a wellbore, the effects of depressurization, and the formation in pipes of ice-like structures called hydrates.
Pereyra is also exploring ways to reduce emissions from oil and gas production systems and to reutilize abandoned oil and gas infrastructure for energy storage. Noting that methane is 86 times more potent than CO2 in its negative impact on global warming, Pereyra is “trying to develop technologies that attempt to detect, quantify, and remediate natural gas emissions to the atmosphere.” He currently has projects underway in these three areas, collaborating with colleagues in electrical engineering and computer science.
Traditionally, research carried out by petroleum engineers has had close links to industry. With his energy expansion projects, however, Pereyra is keen to develop applications that are useful as well for government agencies: “My objective is to create an avenue at TU where industry and government can work together in the dynamic and impactful energy expansion arena.”
For his significant technical and professional contributions to the petroleum engineering profession and to the worldwide oil and gas industry, Pereyra was honored in October 2023 with the Society of Petroleum Engineers International Production and Operations Award.
The University of Tulsa is offering a new master of engineering degree in energy transition. If Pererya’s research is of interest, TU’s M.E. program might be a good fit. Find out more about energy expansion opportunities on the degree page.