[author: J. Steven Rutt]

Hydraulic fracturing (HF) has become a substantial economic force and the subject of strong policy debate. HF has several connections to cleantech, including issues of water treatment and disposal. Recent patents related to water and cleantech include, for example, USP 8,119,007 to MIT, 8,110,115 to Ibex, and 8,105,488 to Anticline Disposal. U.S. Patents that refer to HF now grant at almost twice the rate as 2009 and before. This year, already, 41 have granted, and the number in 2011 was 224 and in 2010 was 257.

Nanotechnology also should become part of the search for HF technical solutions. USP 8,105,492 to Baker Hughes (“Methods for Recharging Nanoparticle-Treated Beds”) relates heavily to nanotechnology. The patent was not classified as a 977 nanotechnology patent, however. The Abstract shows:


Nanoparticle-treated particle packs, such as sand beds, may effectively filter and purify liquids such as waste water. Proppant beds treated with nanoparticles may fixate or reduce fines migration therethrough. When tiny contaminant particles or fines in these fluids flow through the nanoparticle-treated bed or pack, the nanoparticles will capture and hold the tiny contaminant or fines particles within the pack due to the nanoparticles’ surface forces, including, but not necessarily limited to van der Waals and electrostatic forces. Nanoparticle-treated beds or packs may be recharged by contacting the bed with an inorganic acid (but not hydrofluoric acid) or an organic acid, and optionally followed by subsequent treatment with hydrofluoric acid. This treating substantially removes the nanoparticles and the fine particulates that have been removed from a fluid (e.g. wastewater being treated, produced fluids in a formation, etc.). The particle pack may then be re-treated or recharged with nanoparticles.