The current invention is a method for using inexpensive and widely available silica nanoparticles as a fluid loss prevention agent and nanoproppant to maintain micro-fractures during hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to extract oil or natural gas from a variety of geological formations.
The current invention is used in fracking-based oil and gas extraction, especially for use in tight and ultra-tight formations.
This method strategically inserts nanoparticles into a hydraulically fractured well. The nanoparticles are moved based on size to fill in micro- and nano-fractures. This prevents fluid loss and reinforces the pore, resulting in an extended fracture network that exposes a greater amount of rock surface for oil and gas extraction.
This method prevents collapse of micro- and nanofractures and propagates a fracture more efficiently with less fluid loss. The result is a reduction in the amount of water used during the fracking process and improved production of oil and/or gas from the formation. Further development of this technology could provide the opportunity to add coatings to the nanoparticles for improved performance and added benefits (such as the removal of clay particles from extracted oil).
The current invention uses an inexpensive yet exceptionally efficient source of nanoparticles, reducing the overall cost of extraction. The physical properties of the nanoparticles identified by this research are especially well-suited for use as proppants in the types of fractures that are commonly seen in fracking applications.