Oil and Gas

Exploration & Production

oil rig
CEM is working to advance the state of the art in oil exploration and production by developing and leveraging electro-mechanical technologies that improve life-cycle costs, availability, and controllability for oil drilling and conveying components and systems.
Exploration - Seismic excitation:
Exploration - Drilling Systems:
Production – Product delivery:
Exploration - Seismic excitation:
Underground formations are studied by sending vibration through the earth and recording their reflections from the interface of various layers.

In seismic surveys, a shock wave is currently created by:

Compressed-air gun - shoots pulses of air into the water (for exploration over water); creates an uncontrolled excitation spectrum.

Thumper truck - slams heavy plates into the ground (for exploration over land); has a very limited spectrum signature.

Explosives - drilled into the ground (for exploration over land) or thrown overboard (for exploration over water), and detonated; has the disadvantage of hazardous materials and an uncontrolled broad spectrum excitation.

thumper vehicle
Thumper Truck
(Photo credit: Baker Hughes, Inc.)

CEM has investigated the use of an electromagnetic pulsed transducer to produce a tunable source wave for both undersea mapping and land-based seismic survey. This system avoids the undesirable necessity of handling explosives in the cases where they have been used as a source. The main advantage, however, is the capability to excite formations with selected frequencies using an electromagnetic pulse transducer instead of broad spectrum alternatives.

Off-road heavy equipment moving..

LMTV vehiclsCEM has developed active suspension systems that greatly enhance the load bearing capabilities and the ground reaction forces involved in transporting large or heavy equipment in off-road location. This is important to the oil & gas industry as they must frequently relocate drilling equipment. The “tread lightly” effect of the active suspension technology can contribute to attempt to minimize the impact of equipment movement on sensitive environmental conditions.

Direct-drive, high-speed motors and generators…

generatorThe generator in development for the Advanced Locomotive Propulsion System (ALPS) is designed to produce 2.5-MW electrical power from a turbine shaft speed of 12,000 to 15,000 RPM. It employs a brushless exciter and high-strength rotor materials and mechanical design. The output power for its application is rectified and inverter distributed in the Locomotive vehicle. The induction motor in development for the ALPS project is designed to deliver 2-MW continuous with a base speed of 12,000 RPM (15,000 RPM, maximum). It utilizes new joining techniques for rotor bar and end plate connections, and sophisticated bearing designs for vertical operation orientation.

Oil and Gas Program

industrial vid

Homopolar welding is a process by which a high current DC generator passes current through two conducting shapes to produce a fusion weld in time intervals from 0.1 to 0.5 seconds. Several research programs have been conducted to optimize system parameters such as peak current, system energy and pulse shape to join high carbon steels, stainless steels and exotic metals. The process demonstrates diversity beyond welding in that it can be used to sinter powder materials, spot weld large areas, efficiently heat billets for forging processes and weld odd shapes such as railroad rails. The weld process is fast allowing alloys to retain their properties in heat affected zones.


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Low-speed, high-torque & force generating machines…

oil platformCEM has work to develop the lower speed, high-torque motor applications for direct drive of loads requiring torsional forces applied in confined space. Oil and gas drilling systems can this type technology for direct manipulation of drill pipe and fluids without mechanical gearbox conversions.

High-reliability distribution for electric ships and small grid islands…

Under contract to the US Navy, CEM is examining innovative solutions for highly redundant and reconfiguring power grid systems for electric warships. The results of these studies are expected to bear fruit towards more reliable microgrids and island power systems, such as are necessarily involved in oil platforms and drilling systems.
porgress chart

off shore rig
Photo credit: ASTRA Compania Argentina de Petroleo SA

Where there is high cycle duty with a high ratio of peak-to-average power, there is strong potential to make systems smaller, lighter weight, and more efficient overall. For the oil industry this translates into higher portability, more rapid deployment, and quicker completion of wells. The ALPS flywheel is a high density energy storage system to supply transportable power leveling in the rail industry. The 2-MW (3-MW peak) power rating and 100 KWH of usable energy storage are of a size useful to the drilling environment as well as any small utility.
ALPS storage

Production-Product Delivery:



Pipeline welding: CEM has long experience in the application of rotary-stored energy to electrically pulse weld pipe. In Homopolar Pulsed Welding (HPW) a short pulse (0.25 to 0.5 sec.) of high current is passed through the pipe interface. The current, and thus interface heat, is controllable to bring the parent metal to a plastic and fusion state. This produced a superior weld which can be diagnosed from weld electrical parameters, producing improvements in the whole procedure from preparation to weld operation to weld certification. The proposed application for oil & gas is both in cross-country pipeline creation and offshore J-lay operations. The technology is mature and available for licensing in a production prototype.


Dr. Robert Hebner

Dr. Robert Hebner

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