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pH-Sensor Under Consideration for Multi-Sensor-Chip in Downhole Drilling Fluid Monitoring

[+] Author Affiliations
Jonathan Kühne, Frederic Güth, Heike Strauß, Yvonne Joseph, Pál Árki

Technical University Bergakademie, Freiberg, Germany

Paper No. OMAE2017-62544, pp. V008T11A068; 9 pages
  • ASME 2017 36th International Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering
  • Volume 8: Polar and Arctic Sciences and Technology; Petroleum Technology
  • Trondheim, Norway, June 25–30, 2017
  • Conference Sponsors: Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5776-2
  • Copyright © 2017 by ASME


Modern drill strings for the exploration of oil and gas are equipped with a variety of sensor carrying devices such as Measurement While Drilling (MWD), Logging While Drilling (LWD), and Formation Testing While Drilling (FTWD). These devices generate a large amount of downhole data, such as the orientation of the well, drilling parameters e.g. weight on bit and torque, and formation properties. Appropriate telemetry systems are included in the drill string to transfer relevant downhole data in real time to the surface. Other data is stored in memories downhole for subsequent evaluation. However, drilling fluid properties are still monitored at the surface and their behavior under borehole conditions is predicted with hydraulic models. Commercial solutions for a direct downhole measurement of various drilling fluid parameters are rare, though they would increase drilling process safety and the knowledge about the behavior of drilling fluids under real bottomhole conditions.

The pH has a significant influence on the properties of water-based muds and plays a role in the chemistry of oil-based muds as the water cut in the emulsion increases. Commercial pH-sensing devices, such as the glass electrode, and optical sensors are not appropriate for the pH measurement under bottomhole conditions. Fragility, the insufficient degree of miniaturization, the low temperature and pressure resistance due to the liquid reference electrolyte, and phenomena such as the alkaline error are certain drawbacks of glass electrodes. Often optical sensors often will not capture the whole pH scale and require the medium to be at least slightly transparent for light. The usage of pH-sensors based on EIS (electrolyte-isolator-semiconductor) structures is a possible application of chemical sensors for drilling fluid monitoring under in situ borehole conditions.

This paper presents results from a study on the behavior of an EIS structure as a pH sensitive electrode measured vs. a commercial Ag/AgCl reference electrode in comparison with a commercial glass electrode. EIS structures are capacitive pH sensors where the sensing layer is generally a metal oxide on a semiconductor substrate.

Measurements in basic drilling muds were conducted under constant temperature and atmospheric pressure while the drilling mud was steadily stirred. The mud was titrated from alkaline to acidic conditions with hydrochloric acid and the pH was measured after potential equilibration at the electrodes. The results show a general feasibility for the usage of the proposed sensor. There are still certain challenges to be overcome in the development of a robust and reliable pH-sensing device for complex fluids, such as drilling muds under high pressure/high temperature (HP/HT) conditions.

Copyright © 2017 by ASME
Topics: Fluids , Sensors , Drilling



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