How Does Fracking Work and Why is Sand Used?
Fracking is a process where we drill deep into the earth in an attempt to extract natural gas (called shale gas because it is in rock) and oil, which is these used for fuel. It is thought that natural gas and oil pockets are trapped in the rock. A water-sand-chemical mixture is shot at the rock, at high pressure, in order to make the rock release the natural gas or oil. The water-sand-chemical mixture takes the place of the gas inside the rock and this allows the gas to flow out to the top of the well where it is captured.
Not any sand can be used, drillers have to use special fracking sand which they purchase from suppliers. Often times, drillers drill horizontally to the rock layer (unlike vertically, which is used in other types of drilling). Fracking is a funny sounding term but it is actually short hand for hydraulic fracturing which is how the rock is “fractured”-by the use of a high pressure water-sand-chemical mixture.
The fracking doesn’t actually blast apart the rock (even though that’s what it sounds like). Instead, it creates small cracks or fractures that allow the trapped oil or gas to escape. Fracking Helps the Economy Fracking is helpful in that it allows us to access oil and gas resources which were typically hard to reach. Using these fuel sources has helped to decrease the cost of gas in the US as well as boosted our domestic oil production. Fracking will allow us to create electricity with far fewer CO2 emissions that are created with coal and it can give us gas security for the next 100 years, which is a big deal considering the current unstable state of the world’s oil market. Why is Sand Used in Fracking? It’s not just any sand. Drillers can’t scoop it up at the beach or run to Home Depot.http://www.dangersoffracking.com/
Frac Sand has a smoother, rounder, and more uniform shape than regular sand. Under a microscope, fracking sand and regular sand look completely different. This is because fracking sand is actually a high quality, pure quartz sand that is crush resistant. Fracking sand is designed to withstand a lot of pressure (such as being shot out of a hydraulic drill) and it is used almost exclusively by the petroleum industry. Although most fracking sand is made from high quality natural materials, it can also be made from sintered bauxite. This type of fracking sand looks like little ceramic beads. Occasionally, companies will use small beads that are made from aluminum.
Fracking Sand is a Prosperous Business A single fracking-drilled well can use thousands of tons of fracking sand. As more natural gas and oil wells are drilled using the fracking process, the demand for fracking sand has increased significantly. Fracking sand has become a billion dollar industry in its own right and many people in the industry refer to fracking sand as the “new gold”.
The high demand for fracking sand and the ability to make a large profit has led to the production of inferior fracking sands. It has therefore become important for drilling companies to find reliable sources of high quality fracking sand.