Midland, Michigan – A development from Preferred Sands and Dow Chemical has been named one of the 100 most influential innovations of 2013 by a US-based magazine which focuses on industrial research.
R&D Magazine shortlisted the resin-coated sand and polyurethane innovation which, the companies say, helps maintain cracks that are opened up for gas extraction by hydraulic fracturing - or fracking methods.
Dow’s Chris Chrisafides, commercial director for Dow Polyurethanes in North America, called it an “industry-changing” innovation.
Preferred Sands ceo Michael O’Neill said the system “delivers a high-performing alternative for the oil and gas industry and minimises environmental impact.” Traditionally, phenolic resins containing formaldehyde were used for fracking, however the is classified a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a probable carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency - which also proposed carcinogen status designation for the compound in 2009.
According to Dow, the new product reduces production time by “eliminating the need for an external activator and bypassing the injection of additional chemicals [like formaldehyde] into the well.” Eliminating formaldehyde from the process could help raise the “environmental profile” of the controversial fracking method.
Dow's Teraforce polyurethane forms part of the resin-coated sand Garnet RCS that bonds the induced hydraulic fracture's substrate, which supports the crack through which the gas will be extracted. Proppants perform better with “efficient particle-to-particle bonds,” said Dow.
Another Dow product, - the one-component, fast-curing, high viscosity polyurethane adhesive Betamate used in engine compartments, cockpit and roof panels, was one of a further four innovations honoured in the award scheme.
The R&D 1000 Awards will be presented in Las Vegas, Nevada in November.