Sand is the second most used natural resource on the planet. And since the boom in hydraulic fracking over the last decade, sand demand has skyrocketed. But do you know what the frac sand production process actually looks like? Throughout this article, you’ll learn the sand production process used in oil and gas industries and discover how Pontotoc goes the extra mile.
Frac sand is a naturally occurring silica material extracted from high-purity sandstone, which plays a critical role in fracing. Frac sand’s compressive strength allows for the steady release of oil and gas, but industrial wells require hundreds of tons of sand daily. Below, we’ll walk you through how companies like Pontotoc approach the frac sand production process.
At Pontotoc, our frac sand production includes a comprehensive quality assurance process that ensures our clients receive the highest-quality product.
Sieve testing is the first evaluation process our material goes through. It determines how much sand falls within typical sand size designations.
Our team of experts runs millions of particles through our computer analysis program to determine an entire sample’s size and shape properties.
Pontotoc’s sand is crushed at specific stress levels and re-sent through our sieve testing process to determine the percentage of fines produced.
Our technicians perform acid tests to reveal how much non-silica pollutants are in a sample. Contaminant percentages over 3% aren’t considered to be within industry specifications.
Each sand grain must have roundness and a uniform shape to have the proper strength and filtration characteristics. Pontotoc carefully assesses each product to ensure it meets our standards before delivery.
Turbidity tests determine how clean the frac sand is and whether it needs additional cleaning processes.
Ready to partner with a company that provides high-quality silica sand for immediate use? Check out our selection and begin the frac sand production process.
The process of extracting silicon from sand is heavily regulated for all companies like Pontotoc Sand & Stone. Thorough care and attention to detail are required for each process phase. Before sand is used, it’s removed from the ground in a 10-step production process that includes:
The first step in the frac sand mining process for industrial providers is to remove all vegetation from wells and drill sites. Most frac sand mines are located in remote areas, so tree and vegetation removal should be done before drilling.
Excavation equipment like backhoes and front-end loaders scoop sandstone rocks and deposit them into trucks that haul material to a processing facility. The collection of sandstone occurs near the wall of the mine pit.
Overlying soil and unwanted rock layers must be removed to reach the targeted sandstone. Industrial scrapers and tracked excavators remove the topsoil and rock layers. The removed sections are stacked around the mine to serve as light and noise barriers during mine reclamation.
Sandstone, specifically mined for frac sand, is cemented together as a rock. Sandstone is a sedimentary rock that might be loose enough to remove without blasting. However, large deposits need to be broken apart with explosives. Holes drilled near the edge of the mine wall break the sandstone material into smaller pieces.
Reject materials like clay and silt are moved to holding ponds following the washing process. Water is then reused to transport and wash sand in the future.
Dry reject material like sludge in settling ponds is moved, allowing the material to drain before being added to the reclamation pile.
The excavated sandstone is broken into grain sand using an industrial crusher. Once processed, the sand is washed, sifted, separated, and tested before stockpiling and sold. Leftover materials like grains too large to use as frac sand are separated and sold as an alternative industrial sand product. Some of the extra material is added to reclamation piles.
Mines are filled with unwanted rock and other rejected materials during reclamation. When our previously mentioned excavation step occurs, the area behind is filled in with these materials. The new surface will be coated with stockpiled topsoil and replanted in accordance with reclamation.
We’ve reached the frac sand production stage where commercial experts have already removed sandstone from wells and drilling sites. Next, we have to wash the sand. Sand grains are cleaned to remove unwanted clay particles and silt.
Clean sand is then pumped to settling tanks where flocculants are added to remove the remaining particles. Unusable sand containing particles infiltrating the material is reused as industrial sand, along with clay particles and silt.
Some providers utilize belt presses to remove water from flocculated sediment to avoid costly settling tanks and pond treatment. Belt presses are fast, recycle more water, and require less water for cleaning the processed sand.
Washed and cleaned sand is stockpiled into trucks for the final drying and sorting at company facilities. Some sand at this point may still contain moisture. Drain tiles beneath the stockpiled sand transport water to a designated line-process water pond. Providers utilize these ponds to catch excess moisture and water, and then repeat the cycle to wash and transport sand.
Drying and sorting also occur in this stage of the frac sand production process. Experts sort material into grain-size ranges to meet industry standards and specifications. The final product is then shipped to client destinations.
Pontotoc is a leading frac sand supplier thanks to our high-quality proppant material. Along with our selection of Tier 1 sand, we also offer crushed limestone for construction and roofing industries. With our expert frac sand production methods, your material will always be reliable and reinforced. Contact Pontotoc today to learn more about our premium sand and stone products.