Futurists and analysts at the research and consulting firm, Social Technologies, listed what they project to be the top areas of technology innovation through 2025. The innovations are listed below, with speculations about potential implications for the future of oil and gas production in mature basins. Yearbook Experts at ExpertClick distributed the explanations, responses by E-Learning Queen and midcontinentoil.com.
(Note: Back by popular demand: link to Britney Spears "Construct Constantly Deconstructing" post)
1. Personalized medicine-
* the creation of an individual's genome map for a retail price of less than $1,000
* the correlation of specific genes and proteins with specific cancers, Alzheimer's, heart diseases, and diabetes, which will allow both physicians and patients to anticipate, plan for, and mitigate, if not cure, DNA-based health challenges
* the development of pharmaceuticals to treat gene-based diseases (medical treatments that replace surgeries and chemotherapy).
People with access to such breakthroughs can live longer, work longer. How much will these cost? We will have to see. Transfer of skills can be more long-lived. However, it also sets up possibilities of gamer vs. boomer generation tensions. If the studies are true, gamers really do think differently than boomers and the WWII generation. Gamers are said to be multi-taskers and independent thinkers; while boomers are said to be more linear in their approach to problem-solving. This is a gross generalization, but numerous books and articles have been published, so people are tending to perceive and believe that there is a difference. Perception is reality, so it will be good to pay attention.
2. Distributed energy
* hybrid vehicles
* advanced electricity storage devices and batteries
* design of new power systems with fuel-switching flexibility.
For all the people who are eager to exploit the undeveloped reserves of gas and oil in mature basins, it might not be a bad idea to diversify into some of the "green" energy sources. The oil in the ground is money in the bank. Save it.
E-Learning: Solar-powered devices (phones, laptops, cameras, mobile devices).
3. Pervasive computing-
* very simple and inexpensive computing devices with integrated wireless telephone and Internet capabilities (the worldwide $100 computer)
* the "semantic Web," enabled by Web data that automatically self-organizes, allowing search tools or software agents to actually identify the relevance of Web pages (not just find keywords on them)
* intelligent interfaces, in some cases enabled by virtual reality.
This means much better information in the field, and better monitoring devices at the wellhead or in pipelines. Corrosion control, gas compressors, scrubbers, gas conditioning, nitrogen or salt water injection, etc. will be affected. The key is to develop the appropriate chemical processes and technologies to piggyback on pervasive computing.
E-Learning: it may be hard to find a course that is strictly face-to-face.
4. Nanotechnologies for innovative materials and fibers-Although they have received much attention, the R&D of nanotechnogies is progressing very slowly. But the experts expect major breakthroughs to occur within the next two decades, including inexpensive ways to produce mass quantities of nano-fibers.
Nanotechnology in terms of catalytic agents and devices to enhance imaging (downhole logging tools) will probably be the first place for applications.
Improved performance in chips? This could expand computing capabilities. In terms of e-learning: there could be a boom in engineering, science and math programs.
5. Biomarkers for health-
* individualized, private, and self-administered diagnostics, as well as home diagnostic kits that detect early signs of diabetes, heart disease, and types of cancers
* individualized exercise equipment and regimens for individualized benefits (weight control, blood pressure, blood sugar, etc.)
* advanced CAT scans, MRIs, and brain scans to identify disorders earlier and more accurately at less cost.
How about biomarkers for oil? This could be a breakthrough in terms of developing a better sense of fluid flow through fractures and faults. What is the provenance of the oil? Where is it going? Where did it come from? (this is sounding like a Gauguin painting)...
Education online: It is important to provide access to all kinds of programs so that individuals are able to equip themselves to be able to participate in the new economies. Online programs in medicine, biomedical engineering will be in demand.
* high-energy (as measured in British thermal units, or Btu) blends of gasoline and diesel with biofuels (beyond the ethanol blends known today)
* biomass production of a methanol that can be used as a fuel for fuel cells
* new discoveries in plant genetics and biotechnologies specifically for energy content.
Genetically modified corn for ethanol is a good idea. However, it may continue to be true that it actually costs more fuel to raise the corn and process it into ethanol than to produce oil and refine it into gasoline. If government subsidies continue, it's probably a given that this will happen. If not -- perhaps more ways to fuel municipal turbines using locally generated methane would be the answer.
E-Learning: more online labs and simulations to test new products and procedures. The labs can be online or, onsite, but remotely accessed.
7. Micro-flexible manufacturing and processes-
* advanced computer-aided design and control
* multiple variable and inexpensive sensors linked with computers
* expert systems and advanced pattern-recognition software for very tight quality control.
The implications for the oil field are quite interesting. This could mean custom pumps, custom valves and gauges, and chemical applications for existing wells.
8. Universal water-
* ultra-fine filters (probably from nanotechnology)
* development of energy sources for desalination and purification, including hybrid systems, especially solar power.
This is good, but it does not solve the problem of inland water. In some parts of the MidContinent, the depletion of the Ogalalla is already posing real problems. Drilling requires drilling fluids. Secondary recovery requires injection. Would it be possible to desalinate the water produced with oil and then sell it at a reasonable price to cities and municipalities. Places like Dallas could obtain water from the Barnett Shale. Eventually, the water would be more valuable than the gas.
9. Carbon containment-
* affordable and effective carbon capture and storage technologies and systems for coal-burning power plants
* new emission controls for transportation vehicles
* containment systems for methane.
This will be very important in the production of natural gas. It will also be extremely important in gas-powered electricity generators and in refining.
10. Engineered agriculture-
* identification of specific genomes for desired growing and use qualities
* GMOs as the next generation of hybrid plants and crops
* crops designed specifically for energy content and conversion.
Animal husbandry is probably affected as well. There are undoubtedly consequences and impacts on MidContinent oil. Just how big will the hogs in the hog farms be? What will it do to us to eat this stuff? We have all heard the rumors of what eating growth-hormone laced dairy products does.
ELearning: new needs for ethics courses. Increased data sharing, information sharing, but also a heightened need for individuals to be able to create their own security systems.
11. Ambient surveillance-
* security cameras linked with computers with expert systems/pattern recognition
* multiple integrated sensors (including remote sensing)
* radio frequency (RF) tags for people and valuables.
There are enormous possibilities in monitoring production. Ethical issues abound in all the possibilities.
E-learning implications: no more cheating on tests! (J)
Personalize encryption and security, new kinds of firewalls and access monitors.
12. Intelligent transport-
* organized and coordinated personal transportation through wireless computer networks, information systems, and Internet access
* onboard sensors and computers for smart vehicles
* next generations of GPS, navigation, and "questmap".
This will help coordinate production on demand, and timely delivery of oil field chemicals.
E-Learning: more need to understand how to integrate web applications and to be able to easily create one's own set of mashups.
Social Technologies: http://www.socialtechnologies.com/
Expert Click: http://expertclick.com/
Fayetteville Shale: http://www.fayettevilleshalegas.com
Barnett Shale: http://www.barnettshalegas.com