Frac sand, often used in the oil and gas industry to help in the process of extracting natural gas and oil from shale, requires an elaborate mining and refining process before it can be utilized in fracking. Within that manufacturing process, keeping moisture to a necessary, specified range is a key factor to whether or not the frac sand can be properly used to assist in the extraction of oil and natural gas.
Once the sand has been washed to remove unwanted silt and clay particles and run through settling ponds or belt presses to remove excess water, it is then transported to stockpiles for drying. The piles of sand sit on drain tiles that help remove any unneeded water at this step of the process and recycle the water to minimize environmental impact.
Then, drained sand is fed onto a conveyor belt for transport to the rotary dryers where the measurement of moisture content becomes a vital step. Typically, sand moving into the rotary dryer is at about 4-8% moisture, and must be dried to 1% or less. By utilizing a near infrared moisture sensor at this step of the process, you can receive continuous, instantaneous moisture measurement that allows you to make real-time adjustments to your processes to minimize loss of product.
Our OMNIR moisture analyzer provides the data you need to avoid common issues such as too-wet sand leaving the dryer and plugging the sizing screen, which can necessitate plant shutdown, resulting in incredible cost in both time and labor. Instead, the advanced technology allows for quick and timely adjustments to the dryer temperature in order to reach the optimum level of dryness before the sand is sorted and prepared for shipment.
Since the shale containing the desired hydrocarbons is thousands of feet below the earths surface, it must be located. This is accomplished by using drilling rigs to bore straight down to the shale level, then the drill bit is turned 90 degrees so that drilling is done horizontally through the shale layer. The drill bit creates small perforations in the shale along the drill path. This opens the pores within the shale so that hydrocarbons can be released. Then, high pressure water, frac sand, and chemicals are forced into the well, further fracturing the perforations and releasing more hydrocarbons. The released gas and oil then flow up through the well hole for collection and storage.
Essentially, the function of the frac sand is to hold the fractured perforations open so that the hydrocarbons can continue to be released once the high pressure water is turned off, making the extraction of valuable natural gases and oil easier to accomplish in larger amounts. As the demand for frac sand grows, it’s important that frac sand suppliers have the necessary instrumentation to aid this endeavor and keep up with the demand by optimizing processes.
The OMNIR On-Line Near Infrared Moisture Sensor not only delivers accurate data instantaneously and non-destructively, it also monitors its own health to help keep your operation running smoothly. Click the button to see how Finna Sensors can assist in augmenting your frac sand process.Learn More