By Seung, Leah, Chase, Nilasri
Innovation: hydraulic fracturing
What is it made of?
Steel pipe, known as surface casing, is cemented into place at the uppermost portion of a well for the explicit purpose of protecting groundwater. This casing and cementing is a critical part of the well construction that protects not only any water zones, but also the integrity of the production zone(s).
Who and where was it invented?
Traced back to the 1940s, hydraulic fracturing had not been utilized on a massive scale until 2003,when energy companies began actively expanding natural gas exploration with an emphasis in shale formations in Texas, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Wyoming, Utah and Maryland.
How does it work?
The fracking process involves pumping water, chemicals and sand (proppant) slurry at high pressure into a well, which fractures the surrounding rock formation and props open passages, allowing natural gas to more freely flow from rock fractures to the production well. The chemicals used in this process include but are not limited to: benzene, gelling agents, crosslinkers, friction reducers, corrosion inhibitors, scale inhibitors, biocides and, in some cases, diesel fuel.
What is its impact on society
The ability to produce more oil and natural gas from older wells and to develop new production once thought impossible has made the process valuable for US domestic energy production. Without hydraulic fracturing, as much as 80 percent of unconventional production from such formations as gas shales.