High shear mixers manufactured by Lancaster Products are currently in use within several different ceramic proppant manufacturing plants worldwide. Our mixers successfully meet the stringent specifications demanded by both the proppant manufacturers and end users at fracking operations across the globe.
The hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” industry ebbs and flows in an indirectly proportional relationship the price of crude oil, but the reality is that it continues to be an important and growing industry. As with any highly competitive industry, the best way to maintain profitability is to improve efficiencies in both processes and equipment. One of the products consumed in high amounts are eco-friendly ceramic proppants which are introduced under high pressure into the fractured subsurface to “prop” open fractures and allow oil and gas to flow through the fractures. Enhancements in the characteristics of ceramic proppants significantly improve the efficiencies of fracking operations and therefore play a critical role in the profitability of the fracking industry.
Care must be taken when manufacturing ceramic proppants so that all physical specifications are met to ensure the highest yields when used in fracking operations. In particular, proppants must be strong enough to hold the fractures open while still retaining their roundness to maximize the permeability (commonly referred to as conductivity in fracking applications) of the fractures.
Higher conductivity is achieved by manufacturing proppants that are very round and homogeneous in both size and shape to maximize the interstitial space between particles. Proppants with a high roundness factor provide the highest rate of contact throughout the hydraulic fractures when injected into the wells. They must also be crush resistant to withstand closure stresses which exceed 8,000 to 10,000 psi, which factors into the choice of ceramic over other materials such as silica sand (ScienceDirect, section 3.2). Most importantly, to remain profitable, proppant manufacturers must generate high yields when manufacturing batches of proppants, which is most often determined by the rate of homogeneity within and across each batch. A strong, round, and homogeneous proppant settles in cracks with the highest permeability and therefore works best in fracking operations as it generates the highest rate of flow, higher production rates, and maximum efficiencies.
High shear mixers are the ideal processing equipment for ceramic proppant manufacturing. The Process Engineers at Lancaster Products start by gaining a full understanding your required proppant specifications along with your base material. We then run sample processing tests of your material in our on-site sample processing lab to perfect the process so that it produces proppants that meet the required specifications. In most cases a typical production batch will run for about 12 minutes to yield the proper results. Manufacturing efficiencies are also greatly improved as the size of proppants is controlled by the mixing process itself with the ability to change the mix recipe from batch to batch to create multiple product sizes within the same machine, which minimizes the need for additional screening equipment and overall waste. Best of all, ceramic proppant yields from a Lancaster Products high shear mixer are significantly higher than those processed in alternative equipment due to the ability to tightly control the mechanical processes within the contained vessel of a high shear mixer.
Contact us today to discuss how high shear mixers from Lancaster Products can manufacture ceramic proppants more efficiently.