Hydraulic Fracturing Fluids

Fracturing fluids are composed of 99.5 percent sand and water, and only 0.5 percent is other additives. These additives are used to improve the performance of the fluid, as well as to prevent bacteria growth that could rust and even crack the well pipe. These chemicals are regulated by the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs (MDDEP).

While specific additives and quantities vary for each fracturing job, the three primary additives include:

  • A friction reducer;
  • A bactericide that kills bacteria; and
  • A surfactant which aides in effective fracture fluid recovery.

The industry is in favour of full transparency and disclosure regarding the composition of hydraulic fracturing fluid and concentrations that are present. A full breakdown of the additives we typically add to the water and sand mixture is below.

Typical Concentration Additive Type Main Compound Purpose Common Use of Compound
96.26% Water Water Used to expand fracture and deliver proppant (sand) Irrigation, manufacturing, human consumption (drinking, bathing, cooking)
3.62% Proppant Silica Flex Sand Holds fractures open to allow gas to escape to the well bore Used as In-Fill on synthetic turf, bedding on indoor athletic fields and as anti- skid material for concrete floors, water filtration, and glass manufacturing
0.048% Friction Reducer Polyacrylamide Added to frac fluids to minimize friction Used in toys, diapers, contact lenses, and aesthetic facial surgery
0.038% Gellant-Surfactant Isopropanol Trimethyl-octadecylammonium Sodium Xylene Suphonate Used to reduce the surface tension of the fracturing fluids to improve liquid recovery from the well after the frac Used in all-purpose cleaners, disinfectants, room sprays, cosmetics, toiletries, and polish remover, fabric softener and conditioner
0.016% Breaker Sodium Hypochlorite Breaks down the gelling agent to allow the water and sand to flow more easily out of the fractures Used in laundry bleach, disinfectants, and daily sanitizing spray
0.012% Water Gellant Guar Gum Low Toxicity Base Oils Makes water more viscous and capable of keeping sand in suspension Used in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, toothpaste, shaving cream, paint, as well as to extend shelf life of food (including ice cream, soft drinks, jams, bread cheese, ham, pet food etc.)
0.005% Clay Control Quaternary Amine Prevents clay swelling and clay migration Disinfectants, fabric softeners, and as antistatic agents (e.g. in shampoos)
0.002% Iron Control Trisodium Nitrilotriacetate Monohydrate Prevents precipitation of metal oxides Household and industrial detergent, hard surface cleaning product
0.001% Demulsifier Isopropanol Used to break emulsions (water in oil or visa versa) Used in all-purpose cleaners, disinfectants, room sprays, cosmetics toiletries, and polish remover
0.0004% Corrosion Inhibitor Methanol Prevents carbonate and sulfate scale precipitation in fracturing systems. Prevents corrosion of drilling materials Used in windshield washer fluid, antifreeze, plastics, paint, and as a source of fuel
0.00002% Foam Preventer Tributyl Phosphate Reduces viscosity and mud weight Used in herbicide and is used as a solvent in inks, gums, adhesives
Hydraulic Fracture Fluid Additives which may also be used:
Typical Concentration Additive Type Main Compound Purpose Common Use of Compound
0.05% Antibacterial Agent Hydrochloric Acid Inhibits the growth of bacteria in water that produce corrosive by-products Disinfectant, sterilizer for medical and dental equipment