Defense Research Leads to Frac Ball Technology

For tighter rock formations such as sandstones and carbonate deposits, aluminum or composite balls are needed, but Sherman noted that the current generation of these balls is not suitable for the pressure retaining components.

Using TerveAlloy’s frac balls offers other advantages, including a reduction in the amount of water used. Using a reactive component and proppants allow for more efficient well completion while consuming significantly less water. The current method is cumbersome and requires excessive water use, and often relies on chemical additives to alter viscosity to better distribute proppants and reduce friction, Sherman added.

The ability to deliver controlled energy release deep in the formation can lead to a reduction in water use of up to 40 percent. One technique is diverting flow into smaller channels (adding backpressure to higher flow areas) to reduce water needs. Another is adding localized pressure deep inside the formations, extending the cracks without pumping additional water, Sherman noted.

Sherman said TerveAlloy could make it possible for a company to complete three to four wells in the same time it takes to complete one well using legacy technologies. Sherman estimates that 25 percent of the aluminum and composite frac balls currently used don’t flow back. Efforts to retrieve the balls can cost not only time but money. By having a tool in place that will break down, the well owner can focus on production, instead of fishing for frac balls 10,000 feet into production laterals.

“We are really just beginning to explore and exploit the potential of targeted energy delivery for well stimulation and enhanced oil recovery, and are excited about contributing to the recovery of more oil, faster,” Sherman commented.

Terves also is able to engineer and supply components with tailored properties to optimize perforator performance for different downhole configurations.


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