Medical material may cure fracking's dependency on sand


It takes many tons of sand and hundreds of truck trips to support hydraulic fracturing operations. Sand mixed with water is used to prop open the tiny fractures and allow oil and gas to flow freely. Getting the material to the fracking site has a tremendous impact on nearby communities and leaves a giant environmental footprint. GE (Fairfield, CT) and energy company Statoil (Stavanger, Norway) recently launched an open innovation challenge to find ways to reduce the use of sand in onshore operations, and they have now announced five winners. One of them is Bioastra (Montréal), which has developed a platform of physiologically responsive biopolymers used in medical and other applications. The materials, which can change from liquid to solid in the body in response to temperature and other stimuli, apparently can also work wonders for fracking.
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