Penn State Figures Out How to Convert Garbage into Proppants

Shale drilling uses a special kind of sand called silica. It uses a LOT of silica, which is mostly mined in the Midwest, in places like Wisconsin. Sand is called a “proppant” in the industry because it “props open” tiny little holes in fracked shale rock to allow the natural gas (or oil or NGLs) to slip out and up the borehole. There are alternatives to silica as a proppant material–but not many are economic to use. What if you could turn industrial and domestic waste materials into a viable alternative source of raw materials for proppants? That is, what if you could turn garbage into the equivalent of sand? That would be so cool, getting rid of industrial waste on the one hand, creating a cheap source of proppants on the other.

Turning garbage into proppants is exactly what the brains at Penn State have now figured out how to do. Below is the announcement from Penn State that a pair of their materials scientists have published a new paper in a scientific journal (copy of the paper embedded below). The announcement and paper trumpet the discovery that there is a better way to create cheap proppants for shale drilling, and it was discovered right here in Marcellus Shale country…

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