Griffin Beck, Research Engineer, Propulsion & Energy Machinery, Southwest Research Institute will discuss research into natural gas foam as a hydraulic fracturing fluid in place of water.
The primary benefit of this research is the ability to utilize natural gas as the primary fracturing fluid, thus, reducing water use. Traditional fracturing operations throughout the U.S. use a substantial amount of water, much of which is lost permanently or is difficult and expensive to decontaminate. In this research, natural gas will be readily obtained from the wellhead (produced gas) that is typically located near the well site. This technology will eliminate the environmental impact associated with transporting fracturing fluids to and from the well site. The process does not depend of large amounts of water, which will eliminate the flowback water disposal problem associated with traditional hydraulic fracturing. Once the well begins producing natural gas, the natural gas that was used as the primary fracturing fluid can be introduced back into the pipeline.