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Can Sand Be Reclaimed for Use in Fracking?

Shannon Wetzel

With so much work being done to prove and establish beneficial uses of used metalcasting sand, you might have wondered if reclaimed sand could be used in the fracking industry. 

The question was recently posed to a member of the AFS technical department, who asked for input from a few sand experts. According to them, the sand needed for fracking has very specific properties that are too costly to replicate and verify with reclaimed sand—particularly when virgin sand still is readily available at a lower cost.  

“Frac fluids are formulated to have very specific rheological properties. Extremely large volumes of proppant (up to 10 MM lbs.) with very consistent physical and chemical properties are required to frac even one well,” said Dave Jablonski, Badger Mining Corp. “It would be difficult and expensive to get a large enough volume of reclaimed sand with uniform properties to a well site for potential use.

“Due to the high cost of the reclaimed sand at the well site, it wouldn’t even be worthwhile to use it for part of the proppant requirement as virgin sand would be less expensive and have more consistent properties. Engineers would be unwilling to adjust formulas site by site to accommodate the use of whatever reclaim sand was available to them. There would simply be no advantage to reclaim sand.” 

In the future, some periphery uses for reclaimed sand in fracking might be found, but presently, it is not cost or technically feasible.