Hydraulic Fracturing Fluids

Breakdown of Hydraulic Fracturing Fluids

Hydraulic fracturing fluids are comprised of a combination of water, sand and chemicals that are injected at high pressure into a well to initiate and to expand fractures in the shale rock.

Water makes up approximately 90 percent and sand approximately 9.5 percent of the fluid; and chemicals the remaining .5 percent of the mixture.  The chemicals are used for various purposes, such as increasing the viscosity of the fluid; minimizing corrosion, or “propping” open fractures created by the fracturing process.  

A list of the chemicals typically used in the fracturing fluid is available at EnergyInDepth.org, although the specific types and composition used varies based upon the state and the geology of the rock formation.  

Many of the chemicals that companies use are also found in consumer products.  For example:

  • Sorbitan monooleate, commonly referred to as a fatty acid ester, is used in Vitamin A supplements, sun block and towels;
  • Ammonium chloride is an inorganic salt used in hand wash, shampoo and breakfast cereal among other products;
  • Methanol is an alcohol used liquid hand soap, windshield washing concentrate, and furniture refinishing products.

Additionally, Halliburton has also announced that it has developed a new fracturing fluid comprised of materials sourced entirely from the food industry.

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