Novel Hollow Metal Alloy Proppants for Improved Oil Extraction
Develop novel materials for use as reservoir rock proppants in the oil and gas industry, with improved properties that will allow increased oil and gas recoveries from wells.
Sponsor: Deep Springs Technology, Inc.4750 W. Bancroft
Toledo, OH 43615
Deep Springs Technology (DST) has proposed developing novel materials for use as "proppants" in the oil and gas industry. Proppants are used in conjunction with hydraulic fracturing, an extraction technique in which fluids are pumped into a well under pressure to create fractures in the rock and allow oil or gas to seep through. Proppants are granular materials mixed into the fluid to lodge in the fractures and hold them open. Traditional proppants, made of ceramics, sand or polymers, are limited in strength and permeability, lowering the amount of oil and gas recoverable using this technique because the rock fracture cannot be maintained indefinitely. Hollow metal spheres potentially could perform significantly better than current proppants, but have never been tried because of the challenge of producing them in the necessary quantities and size at an acceptable price, which remains the chief technical obstacle. DST will make use of novel structures and materials formed using an innovative process to produce high-strength proppants that greatly increase the permeability of the reservoir, increasing oil and gas recoveries. According to recent studies, the global market for proppants is approximately $1 billion and growing at 12 percent a year.