Autonomous well monitoring solution recognized with a Best Innovators award

The WAND wireless sensor developed in a collaboration between Total, an oil & gas company, and the University of Michigan is revolutionizing well monitoring

Prof. Yogesh Gianchandani’s collaboration with the oil and gas company, Total, resulted in a Best Innovators 2020 award for the company’s researchers involved in the project. Called the Wireless Advanced Nanosensor Device (WAND) solution, the project is an autonomous well monitoring solution for the oil & gas industry.

Gianchandani’s team, including Dr. Alex Benken, and graduate students Neeharika Vellaluru and Partha Pratim Dutta contributed to the WAND autonomous sensor, which, according to the researchers, “comprises new generation pressure and temperature sensors – miniaturized and wireless – with an accelerometer, magnetometer, Bluetooth communication and battery. The unit is inserted into an HP/HT-resistant nacelle and can be held in the palm of the hand.”

The sensors are used to monitor bottom-hole conditions in a well, and replace the current method of lowering gauges into wells on cables.

Total cited the following advantages to the system:

  • The sensor is reusable and can be pumped into a well then recovered on the surface due to its diameter.
  • The unit does not require an umbilical wire for its configuration, data transfer or battery. The onboard battery has an extended charge life.
  • WAND can measure pressures exceeding 345 bars and temperatures of up to 150°C, and is resistant to an H2S concentration of 2,000 ppm.
  • Data is transferred to a computer via Bluetooth. A Unix-based software solution has been developed to program the sensors, access the data collected, process it in 10 minutes and provide simplified access to the results.
  • The technology is highly affordable, enabling its widespread use.

Development of the device was initiated in early 2019, and completed in only 11 months. The first prototype was tested one month later in the Congo under real-life conditions. Total expects that more than 500 Dry Tree wells may benefit from the innovation.

The researchers are pursuing a patent on the technology. Gianchandani is Director of the Center for Wireless Integrated MicroSensing and Systems (WIMS2). The facilities used for this research included the Lurie Nanofabrication Facility.

Electronics, Devices, Computers; Lurie Nanofabrication Facility; MEMS and Microsystems; Research News; Sensing and Sensors; Yogesh B. Gianchandani