Research in Action
The Ben Franklin TRESP funding has already yielded a success in the Marcellus Shale space. Professors at the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences at Penn State applied for a grant to develop proppants. Proppants are introduced into the fractures created by hydraulic fracing to prop them open while the gas is extracted. A variety of materials can be used, including sand, with varying levels of performance. The professors were working on higher performing materials that were available from sources more local to the Marcellus Shale. It is estimated that the Marcellus exploration will increase the demand for proppant materials by 20% to 30% in the coming years. This will quickly exceed present capacity and necessitate the use of new materials from new sources. The unique challenges of the Marcellus Shale also lend themselves to proppants with advanced material properties, like those being developed at PSU.
This TRESP project quickly attracted the attention of the Ben Franklin Entrepreneur-in-Residence for Energy. He was able to form a partnership with the professors to direct the research toward a market goal, attract investment, and form a new company which would develop and exploit the new intellectual property for the benefit of all concerned. Recently, the new company began moving forward with a substantial private investment and capital from the Ben Franklin. The goal is to have viable products available to users in the next two years.
Marcellus Research Reports
Click below to view a report.
"Data Visualization and Data Mining/Processing", Luke Zhang and John Yen