Dow rocks energy sector with polyurethane-coated sand
Preferred RCSTM resin coasted sand with Dow TERAFORCETM Technology is a polyurethane innovation that is changing the energy sector. A collaboration with Preferred Sands, the new and more sustainable technology has ability to help create jobs and contribute to a manufacturing renaissance in U.S. energy. We spoke with Juan Carlos Medina, Director of New Business Development at Dow, about this new innovation. Find out more in the interview below.
Q. Can you explain Dow’s TERAFORCETM Technology and how the idea for it happened?
A. So we were approached by a customer who had gone to other venues for help and then came to Dow with the problem. They were looking to change proppants, the material that breaks the rock and keeps it open in the fracking process. Proppants have been in existence as is for 70 years. The idea was that there had to be a way to do it better. It was kind of a stagnant technology. It had been the same phenolic technology. So we developed a polyurethane solution. A solution that binds together and allows the material to stay down in the well, so there is no “flowback.” The sand coated with our polyurethane resin performs in a a way that prevents the flowback from happening.
Q. Did anything in particular inspire you?
A. This technology expands the frontier of polyurethanes. This is a game changer, polyurethane has not been used in this market. We tried where no one else would try. We knew that with this innovation we can get more oil domestically, we can do it smarter, more sustainably. We wanted to find a more sustainable way to use energy that we already have, until we can bridge the gap to other technologies like solar and wind power.
Q. Dow has innovated a technology that generates measurable particle-to-particle bond strength in oil wells with a more environment-friendly profile. What is the most meaningful about creating a product like this for the energy industry?
A. To me, it is the impact on society. There are close to 200 manufacturing projects recently announced in the U.S. and $120 billion dollars to build all the U.S. plants that are coming back to the states, also two million jobs will be created. Now there is cost competitive energy in the U.S. and this TERAFORCETM Technology is an enabler of this revolution.
Q. What was the biggest challenge you overcame?
A. Getting the two teams to collaborate was critical for the success. For us, we are not there at the oil fracking wells with Preferred Sands and they were not in the labs doing this kind of chemistry. We had two different skill sets and how do we put them together? This is a very technical problem. You are going to take a material and inject it into the well. Dow had the chemistry – the materials science expertise – and Preferred Sands had the oil well experience. In the end, we had Preferred Sands employees coming to our labs, and we went to their labs, really working closing together. Together we came up with this solution.
Q. What is the next step with this technology and your partnership with Preferred Sands?
A. The production is already commercial and it’s a huge success, it has improved oil drills. There is no downtime. The next step, Dow and Preferred Sands are collaborating in other spaces to see what else we can do to improve the fracking process to make it even more efficient. The technology is used for oil extraction and we are working and trying to take it to other spaces in that same industry.
Read more on polyurethanes: