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Flowback of proppant materials

A collaboration between Swansea University and industry





Proppant flowback dynamics






Fracturing of rock and soil is used for stimulation of hydrocarbon reservoirs, improved geothermal power generation, and enhanced remediation of soil pollution. Proppant particles are injected into the fractures to keep them from closing, but proppant flowback reduces the effectiveness of the treatments.

Despite the industrial, economic and societal importance of fracturing, very little is known about the fundamental physical mechanisms that govern flow in the proppant filled fractures, and how multiphase flow, destabilization and erosion leads to failure and flowback.



The project aims to bridge the gap between fundamental physics and applied engineering by uncovering the physical mechanisms that lead to failure of proppant packings, and to apply the gained insight into improving flowback control with new advanced proppant materials.

Principal Investigator
Dr Bjornar Sandnes

T:+44(0)1792 602634

Research Assistant: Dr Martin Monloubou

Dr Bjornar Sandnes Image Dr Bjornar Sandnes Image

We will shed light on the complex flow processes that take place kilometres underground

Prof Andrew Barron

T:+44(0)1792 606930

Research Assistant: Dr Shirin Alexander

Prof Andrew Barron Image Prof Andrew Barron Image

This is the first time that an intimate view of proppant flowback is being created, with the hope of designing better materials