What Chemicals Are Used

As previously noted, chemicals perform many functions in a hydraulic fracturing job.  Although there are dozens to hundreds of chemicals which could be used as additives, there are a limited number which are routinely used in hydraulic fracturing.  The following is a list of the chemicals used most often.  This chart is sorted alphabetically by the Product Function to make it easier for you to compare to the fracturing records .

Chemical Name CAS Chemical Purpose Product Function
Hydrochloric Acid007647-01-0Helps dissolve minerals and initiate cracks in the rockAcid

     
Glutaraldehyde 000111-30-8 Eliminates bacteria in the water that produces corrosive by-products Biocide
Quaternary Ammonium Chloride 012125-02-9 Eliminates bacteria in the water that produces corrosive by-products Biocide
Quaternary Ammonium Chloride 061789-71-1 Eliminates bacteria in the water that produces corrosive by-products Biocide
Tetrakis Hydroxymethyl-Phosphonium Sulfate 055566-30-8 Eliminates bacteria in the water that produces corrosive by-products Biocide
       
Ammonium Persulfate 007727-54-0 Allows a delayed break down of the gel Breaker
Sodium Chloride 007647-14-5 Product Stabilizer Breaker
Magnesium Peroxide 014452-57-4 Allows a delayed break down the gel  Breaker
Magnesium Oxide 001309-48-4 Allows a delayed break down the gel  Breaker
Calcium Chloride 010043-52-4 Product Stabilizer Breaker
       
Choline Chloride 000067-48-1 Prevents clays from swelling or shifting Clay Stabilizer
Tetramethyl ammonium chloride 000075-57-0 Prevents clays from swelling or shifting Clay Stabilizer
Sodium Chloride 007647-14-5 Prevents clays from swelling or shifting Clay Stabilizer
       
Isopropanol 000067-63-0 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent Corrosion Inhibitor
Methanol 000067-56-1 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent Corrosion Inhibitor
Formic Acid 000064-18-6 Prevents the corrosion of the pipe Corrosion Inhibitor
Acetaldehyde 000075-07-0 Prevents the corrosion of the pipe Corrosion Inhibitor
       
Petroleum Distillate 064741-85-1 Carrier fluid for borate or zirconate crosslinker Crosslinker
Hydrotreated Light Petroleum Distillate 064742-47-8 Carrier fluid for borate or zirconate crosslinker Crosslinker
Potassium Metaborate 013709-94-9 Maintains fluid viscosity as temperature increases Crosslinker
Triethanolamine Zirconate 101033-44-7 Maintains fluid viscosity as temperature increases Crosslinker
Sodium Tetraborate 001303-96-4 Maintains fluid viscosity as temperature increases Crosslinker
Boric Acid 001333-73-9 Maintains fluid viscosity as temperature increases Crosslinker
Zirconium Complex 113184-20-6 Maintains fluid viscosity as temperature increases Crosslinker
Borate Salts N/A Maintains fluid viscosity as temperature increases Crosslinker
Ethylene Glycol 000107-21-1 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.   Crosslinker
Methanol 000067-56-1 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.   Crosslinker
       
Polyacrylamide 009003-05-8 “Slicks” the water to minimize friction  Friction Reducer
Petroleum Distillate 064741-85-1 Carrier fluid for polyacrylamide friction reducer Friction Reducer
Hydrotreated Light Petroleum Distillate 064742-47-8 Carrier fluid for polyacrylamide friction reducer Friction Reducer
Methanol 000067-56-1 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.   Friction Reducer
Ethylene Glycol 000107-21-1 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.   Friction Reducer
       
Guar Gum 009000-30-0 Thickens the water in order to suspend the sand Gelling Agent
Petroleum Distillate 064741-85-1 Carrier fluid for guar gum in liquid gels Gelling Agent
Hydrotreated Light Petroleum Distillate 064742-47-8 Carrier fluid for guar gum in liquid gels Gelling Agent
Methanol 000067-56-1 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.   Gelling Agent
Polysaccharide Blend 068130-15-4 Thickens the water in order to suspend the sand Gelling Agent
Ethylene Glycol 000107-21-1 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.   Gelling Agent
       
Citric Acid 000077-92-9 Prevents precipitation of metal oxides Iron Control
Acetic Acid 000064-19-7 Prevents precipitation of metal oxides Iron Control
Thioglycolic Acid 000068-11-1 Prevents precipitation of metal oxides Iron Control
Sodium Erythorbate 006381-77-7 Prevents precipitation of metal oxides Iron Control
       
Lauryl Sulfate 000151-21-3 Used to prevent the formation of emulsions in the fracture fluid Non-Emulsifier
Isopropanol 000067-63-0 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.   Non-Emulsifier
Ethylene Glycol 000107-21-1 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.   Non-Emulsifier
       
Sodium Hydroxide 001310-73-2 Adjusts the pH of fluid to maintains the effectiveness of other components, such as crosslinkers  pH Adjusting Agent
Potassium Hydroxide 001310-58-3 Adjusts the pH of fluid to maintains the effectiveness of other components, such as crosslinkers  pH Adjusting Agent
Acetic Acid 000064-19-7 Adjusts the pH of fluid to maintains the effectiveness of other components, such as crosslinkers  pH Adjusting Agent
Sodium Carbonate 000497-19-8 Adjusts the pH of fluid to maintains the effectiveness of other components, such as crosslinkers  pH Adjusting Agent
Potassium Carbonate 000584-08-7 Adjusts the pH of fluid to maintains the effectiveness of other components, such as crosslinkers  pH Adjusting Agent
       
Copolymer of Acrylamide and Sodium Acrylate 025987-30-8 Prevents scale deposits in the pipe Scale Inhibitor
Sodium Polycarboxylate N/A Prevents scale deposits in the pipe Scale Inhibitor
Phosphonic Acid Salt N/A Prevents scale deposits in the pipe Scale Inhibitor
       
Lauryl Sulfate 000151-21-3 Used to increase the viscosity of the fracture fluid Surfactant
Ethanol 000064-17-5 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.   Surfactant
Naphthalene 000091-20-3 Carrier fluid for the active surfactant ingredients Surfactant
Methanol 000067-56-1 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.   Surfactant
Isopropyl Alcohol 000067-63-0 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent.   Surfactant
2-Butoxyethanol 000111-76-2 Product stabilizer Surfactant

One of the problems associated with identifying chemicals is that some chemicals have multiple names.  For example Ethylene Glycol (Antifreeze) is also known by the names Ethylene alcohol; Glycol; Glycol alcohol; Lutrol 9; Macrogol 400 BPC; Monoethylene glycol; Ramp; Tescol; 1,2-Dihydroxyethane; 2-Hydroxyethanol; HOCH2CH2OH; Dihydroxyethane; Ethanediol; Ethylene gycol; Glygen; Athylenglykol; Ethane-1,2-diol; Fridex; M.e.g.; 1,2-Ethandiol; Ucar 17; Dowtherm SR 1; Norkool; Zerex; Aliphatic diol; Ilexan E; Ethane-1,2-diol  1,2-Ethanedio.

This multiplicity of names can make a search for chemicals somewhat difficult and frustrating. However, if you search for a chemical by the CAS number it will return the correct chemical even if the name on the fracturing record does not match. For example if the fracturing record listed the chemical Hydrogen chloride and you searched for it by name using a chemical search site you may not get a result. But if you search for CAS # 007647-01-0 it might return Hydrochloric acid which is another name of Hydrogen chloride. Therefore, by using the CAS number you can avoid the issue of multiple names for the same chemical.

Multiple names for the same chemical can also leave you with the impression that there are more chemicals than actually exist.  If you search the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) website the alternate names of chemicals are listed. This may help you identify the precise chemical you are looking for. The NIST site also contains the CAS numbers for chemicals. NIST is only one of many websites you can use to locate additional information about chemicals. You can also search the following websites using the chemical name or CAS number:

OSHA/EPA Occupational Chemical Database

The Chemical Database

EPA Chemical Fact Sheets

 


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Ground Water Protection Council Interstate Oil and Gas