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Dynamic Binary Complexes (DBC) as Super-Adjustable Viscosity Modifiers for Hydraulic Fracturing Fluids
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The goal of this project is to address the lack of effective, reliable viscosifiers and focus on the development of novel, dynamic binary complexes (DBCs) to achieve reversible super-adjustable viscosities and implement these novel additives in fracturing fluids.


Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, College Station, TX 77840

Incendium Technologies, Round Rock, TX 78664


One of the most important components of a hydraulic fracturing fluid is the viscosity modifying agent, which prevents settling and non-uniform distribution of proppant, and provides a strong driving force on proppant to follow the fluid into cracks, fractures, and fissures. Without viscosifying agents, it is impossible to adequately transport proppant from the surface to the fissures. Currently, one line of thinking is that the lack of effective, reliable viscosifiers is a critical limiting factor causing sub-optimal permeability and relatively low productivity index in shale reservoirs even when other steps of hydraulic fracturing are successfully executed. This project is aimed at addressing this limitation and focuses on the development of novel, dynamic binary complexes (DBCs) to achieve reversible super-adjustable viscosities and to implement these novel additives in fracturing fluids.


From an engineering perspective, the development of super-adjustable viscosifying agents may be beneficial in the context of enhancing proppant transport into fractures and reducing damage to proppant pack. These advances will eventually lead to improvements in productivity index of fossil fuel from unconventional reservoirs. It is anticipated that aside from their impact on fracturing technologies for unconventional reservoirs, these materials may be beneficial for enhanced oil recovery applications from conventional reservoir as well.

Accomplishments (most recent listed first)
  • 49 new formulations have been developed.
  • 6 formulations with exceptional flow properties and proppant carrying ability have been identified.
  • A thermodynamic model has been developed by considering all the components of the free energy in a cylindrical DBCs.
  • Novel coarse-grained Brownian dynamics (BD)/kinetic Monte Carlo (kMc) model developed for predicting rheology of DBCs.
  • A three-dimensional, multiphase production simulator was developed to predict the production from a reservoir, hydraulic fractured with Viscosity Enhanced Stimulation fluids, by considering the impact of formation damage, fracture geometry, and fluid flowback.
  • Out of the newly developed DBC formulations, three of them were decided to undergo further characterization with rheological tools and proppant carrying tests (described in Tasks 3 and 4) due to promising results in the initial screening. All of the new formulations were analyzed as a function of temperature, salinity, and pH to evaluate their potential as hydraulic fracturing fluids. 
  • Property optimization of a few formulations from the previous and current years were carried out. These results were either published or to be submitted for publication.
  • Selected DBC formulations were tested for their ability of reversibility, compatibility with other chemicals in fracturing fluids, their adsorption and adhesion behavior with proppants, corrosion performance in the wellbore, and effects to the friction between proppant displacement and wellbores (Tasks 5, 6, and 10). 
  • Initial fracturing performance tests were carried out using epoxy and cement molds and compared those with the commercial fracturing fluids (Task 11). 
  • Incendium Technologies is currently administering scale-up and commercialization efforts of the developed DBC fracturing fluids in this project. 
  •  A review article including high-level information about the DBC fracturing fluids and their potential benefits to the oil and gas industry was published and presented in SPE Canadian Energy Technology Conference and Exhibition. The efforts on increasing market visibility of the developed DBC materials has continued via preparation of further publications. Another article has been prepared and submitted to SPE Western Regional Meeting. 
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DOE Contribution


Performer Contribution


Contact Information

NETL — Anthony Zammerilli ( or 304-285-4641)
Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station — Mustafa Akbulut ( or 979-847-8766)