TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- As gas prices soar, scientists at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University are marketing research that will enable petroleum companies to locate, analyze and process crude oil much faster, cheaper and more accurately.
Alan G. Marshall, a giant in the field of chemical analysis, and his magnet lab colleagues have signed an agreement with a California-based company, Sierra Analytics (www.MassSpec.com), which will sell state-of-the-art software to petroleum companies. With this software, the companies will benefit from research that has made FSU the best in the world at understanding petroleum.
"Crude oil is possibly the most complicated chemical mixture known to science," said Marshall, the Robert O. Lawton Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at FSU and director of the magnet lab's Ion Cyclotron Resonance Program. "A single heavy petroleum sample, for example, may contain more than 30,000 separate chemical substances. For petroleum companies to develop more efficient oil extraction and refining techniques, they need to know exactly what they're dealing with."
That's where Marshall and his team come in. Using an incredibly precise analytical technique co-invented by Marshall known as Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry, they have been able to simultaneously separate and identify thousands of separate chemical constituents within a single crude oil sample. In so doing, Marshall's group has compiled the largest database of petroleum compounds in the world -- priceless information for some of the world's richest companies.
Wealth, however, isn't the motivation behind the group's licensure deal.
"There will be some small royalties associated with the Sierra Analytics agreement, but mostly we're doing it to increase our visibility and enhance our reputation as the worldwide leader in the development o
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Florida State University