The Petroleum Energy and Environment Research Center (PEER) at Caltech:

Goals and activities

Yongchun Tang,

Acting Director PEER, Caltech

The enormous challenges to industry and to society in simultaneously meeting the energy and environmental requirements of the 21st Century, challenge academia to

  1. address research toward the fundamental science and engineering underlying petroleum energy and environmental technology and
  2. address the training of scientists and engineers to provide the multidisciplinary knowledge need to solve these problems.

Because the challenges span several traditional fields of Chemistry, Geochemistry, Engineering, and Materials, we have initiated collaborations to start working together to address these problems. To provide a common meeting ground for these collaborative research and educational objectives, we propose to establish the Petroleuml Energy and Environmental Research (PEER) at Caltech. Our vision is to integrate the latest developments in chemistry, chemical engineering, material sciences, geochemistry, and environmental chemistry to develop affordable fossil energy production technologies while preserving and enhancing healthy environmental conditions.

In order to achieve this vision, PEER will establish new collaborations between various groups in various divisions within Caltech (and also collaborations with academic and government lab groups outside Caltech), enhance and broaden collaborations in Fossil Energy and Environmental Technology with industry to develop efficient but green fossil energy technologies (both upstream and downstream production applications) and to transfer this technology to application by industry create an expanded and integrated academic curriculum for the training of future scientists and engineers in Petroleum Energy and Environmental Technology.

Our initial focus will be on a few critical areas related to the major technical challenges of the fossil fuel industry, such as gas to liquid technology and oil field chemicals for deepwater production. A key part of our strategy will be to develop and use computer simulation and modeling (from quantum mechanics to macroscopic) to interpret and guide experiments and to provide new design principles. Thus, the Materials and Process Simulation Center in the Beckman Institute at Caltech will play a central role in this activity. We will illustrate number of applications showing how simulation can help solving real problems for petroleum industry.