The European Space Agency has got together with French and Chinese oil giants in order to launch highly pressurized vats of crude oil into orbit.
This piece of experimental space luggage is required to study underground oil wells and was launched into space on China’s SJ-10 satellite.
Those involved in the unusual mission are trusting that it will improve their knowledge and understanding of crude oil reservoirs, which are situated 8km underground, in a bit to find a way to make use of so far untouched reserves, and monitor the redistribution of hydrocarbon molecules at fluctuating temperatures.
Speaking about the mission, Oliver Minster from the ESA compared it to the way in which smaller cornflakes fall to the bottom of their box because of gravity. The molecular aspect of this project is similar to that, but scientists also want to see how temperature and weightlessness affect fluids.
The oil-bearing satellite took off from the Gobi Desert on Wednesday, April 6. Also involved in the were Total – a French oil company – and China’s National Space Science Centre, along with oil firm PetroChina.
The crude oil will be in orbit for nearly two weeks before it returns to Earth, upon which time a group of researchers will analyse the results of the experiment, which will see the oil in the containers put under immense pressure.
If the mission is successful, it may only be a matter of time before companies like Fuchs are using this deeply buried oil to produce products like Fuchs WSP 783-L.