Defense Research Leads to Frac Ball Technology

“We believe the availability of our reactive materials technology will lead to significant additional innovation as the developers of perforation systems incorporate these now available technologies into their devices,” Sherman commented.

The feature that would be common with all these frac balls would be that they would isolate the zones when required, and then disintegrate once their job is done. Frac balls would be made from one inch to 12 inches in diameter, and most probably would work independent of the other components being used, Sherman explained.

The application of TerveAlloy for oil and gas stimulation and enhanced oil recovery combines the work done on beryllium research in 2003 and research Abakan conducted from 2005 to 2007 for the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) on thermites and reactives such as titanium-boron.

Through the DTRA research effort, Abakan sought to develop nano/micro-encapsulated particles engineered to control and tailor the reaction kinetics by varying compositional, particle size, interfacial area, phase separation, and mixing to obtain desired mechanical, energetic, and pressure/blast wave material effects upon detonation, said Sherman.

“In simple words, we were funded by DTRA to develop reactive materials for warheads that react to change in environmental stimuli, such as temperature and pressure, and we are using the same technology platform to develop new composite materials that are engineered to react to environmental stimuli in oil and gas applications,” Sherman noted. “The goal for reactive materials for warheads was primarily that the materials react to generate a controlled amount of pressure or blast to cause controlled destruction.”

During that time, the company produced and characterized several hundred combinations of materials, for both high-strength, low density applications, as well as higher density perforation applications. This was applied research into metal formulations in support of the agency’s mission of being able to appropriately respond to chemical, nuclear and biological threats.

One of the targeted applications was controlled and sustained thermal release over an extended area to enable to destruction of chemical and biological agents. Sherman said there are current weapon systems designed for this application utilizing titanium-boron thermites, one of the highest energy thermites available; the company investigated higher energy density alternatives and techniques to control the energy release rate of these types of reactive materials.


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