Complex Fluids and Hydraulic Fracturing

TitleComplex Fluids and Hydraulic Fracturing
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsBarbati A.C, Desroches J., Robisson A., McKinley G.H
JournalAnnual Review of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Nearly 70 years old, hydraulic fracturing is a core technique for stimulating hydrocarbon production in a majority of oil and gas reservoirs. Complex fluids are implemented in nearly every step of the fracturing process, most significantly to generate and sustain fractures and transport and distribute proppant particles during and following fluid injection. An extremely wide range of complex fluids are used: naturally occurring polysaccharide and synthetic polymer solutions, aqueous physical and chemical gels, organic gels, micellar surfactant solutions, emulsions, and foams. These fluids are loaded over a wide range of concentrations with particles of varying sizes and aspect ratios and are subjected to extreme mechanical and environmental conditions. We describe the settings of hydraulic fracturing (framed by geology), fracturing mechanics and physics, and the critical role that non-Newtonian fluid dynamics and complex fluids play in the hydraulic fracturing process.