Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Science & Technology: Innovative Fluid Could Help Expand Fractures in Enhanced Geothermal Systems

StimuFrac™: "Green" Fracking Fluid Can Be Used Virtually Anywhere (PNNL)

Non-toxic chemical reaction is anticipated to save water, money, and time for geothermal and oil and gas applications

Scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Washington developed an environmentally friendly “green” fracking fluid, called StimuFrac™. Rather than using large volumes of water and an immense amount of pressure to create fractures underground, this green fracking fluid relies on a safe chemical process to do the hard work.

What’s in the secret sauce? A chemical reaction that occurs when poly(allylamine) and carbon dioxide (CO2) are combined.

Think of the popping candy Pop Rocks© that “pop” when the ingredient COcomes into contact with your mouth. In a similar fashion, CO2 is added to the green fracking fluid and then reacts with the poly(allylamine) expanding in volume and creating pressure in addition to what already occurs during conventional hydraulic fracturing.

Not only could PNNL’s StimuFrac™ use significantly less water compared to conventional hydraulic fracturing methods—making it more environmentally friendly—it is expected to also significantly reduces costs. The additional pressure created when using PNNL’s fluid means less mechanical pressure is required, potentially less water is used, and fracturing can be done more quickly. All of these factors combined could reduce operating costs by 60 percent while increasing permeability up to 10,000 times compared to conventional fracturing methods.

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