NDSU research could play role in oil exploration

FARGO – North Dakota State University scientists are analyzing materials that could play a role in North Dakota oil and gas exploration.

Scientists from NDSU’s Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering are analyzing 198 clay samples to determine their composition and suitability for use as a component in hydraulic fracturing.

The clays show early promise for potential use as a key material known as ceramic proppant, used in the fracking process to help keep fractures open. The fracking process is used to extract oil and natural gas deep within the ground in places such as the Williston Basin.

The work is being done by NDSU’s Materials and Characterization and Analysis Laboratory as part of a research agreement with the North Dakota Geological Survey in Bismarck.

Results from the study could shed light on whether North Dakota could eventually supply some of the proppant materials needed for oil exploration.

The testing is expected to take about five months. The clay samples come from Adams, Bowman, Dunn, Golden Valley, Grant, Hettinger, Mercer, Morton, Slope, and Stark counties.

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