Defense Research Leads to Frac Ball Technology

For its DTRA research efforts, the company used knowledge it gained by accident when seeking to develop a magnesium-graphite composite to replace beryllium as a missile system component. At the time, the only sources for beryllium were Russia and a stockpile in the United States. This composite was exposed to humid air when the company relocated from California to Ohio in 2003, and afterwards began disintegrating.

The material was not the reactive warhead material, but reactive materials also exhibit the same phenomena, since the combine metal salts and reactive metals. Abakan leveraged its experience with the discovery of material combinations that react to moisture/water, pH acid, electrical signals, and temperatures to create high strength magnesium-graphite frac balls and tooling, Sherman noted.

Sherman noted that if you mix magnesium with Teflon, a material that generates a high amount of heat is created.

“In this case, we’re trying to generate heat for an extended amount of time to destroy biological chemical materials downhole.”

By generating this heat, smoother, rounder, higher fractures and fissures can be created, enhancing the recovery of oil.

Through their DTRA research efforts, Abakan found the rates and specific trigger points can be tailored by how the components are arranged. For example, nanoscale self-assembly of the reactive metal and additives leads to a much more reactive material.

“This platform of material designs can be tailored to specific types of formations, and to the very creative designs of oil tool manufacturers, who are our partners and customers,” Sherman said.


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