In the last few years, Wisconsin has been enjoying its sand. Not that they are going to the beach or something. Mining sand is becoming very lucrative in this state due to the amount of frac sand that is available in the area. What is frac sand? In the process of hydraulic fracturing, a mixture of water, chemicals and sand is used to keep the cracks on shale open, allowing natural gas to get out and be extracted from them. Shale is not a permeable material and that, does not allow the gas to get out. So what is so special with the frac sand? How come it is different from regular ones?
What is frac sand?
It is a unique form of sand since it is a lot rounder and tougher, and yet, it is permeable. The rounded shape of the sand granules allows the water and gases to pass through. It follows the clogging of the well and allows the cracks to keep open while still enabling the gases to come out and to be extracted. This is a unique property of the frac sand. In Wisconsin, there is one mine that provides a hefty volume of frac sand that is critical for fracking. This material is very necessary to ensure that the extraction process will result in pure natural gas and that there will be no contaminants or foreign bodies that could be lurking
More mature sand that is near quartz is the perfect kind of frac sand for the technology. It should also be well rounded. Younger sand usually has a sharper or angular shape and they often carry too many minerals as well as rock fragments. Good quality frac sand is easy to clean and separate from other components, making it easier to remove the fragments and clay. The sand undergoes several processes in order to remove any impurities, to segregate the sand by the size of each unit and by the quality of the grains. It should have a texture that is similar to brown sugar.
The frac sand mining is a very helpful industry. With the help of sand mining, there can be increased jobs and it could help empower the economy of the locales. With the help of high quality sand, it is possible to meet the demands for natural gas as a form of clean fuel and it can help sustain the industry. In the last 100 years when mining in Wisconsin was part of the history and economy of the state, there were no major problems directly linked to mining sand. The sand, mines leave very minimal environmental impact and these could be reclaimed in the long run.
With the big potential for the Marcellus Shale, it is just a matter of time when it will be utilized to acquire natural gas. Nonetheless, the frac sand will continue to be mined in order to benefit the industry and to provide transitional energy that can be used to minimize use of conventional sources of energy.
Source by Paul Mike John