Grant Seeks to Fund Research on Sustainable Friction Reducers

The American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute’s Oilfield Chemistry Roundtable brings together companies committed to integrating the principles of green and sustainable chemistry and engineering into the oilfield development and production industry. The roundtable is currently seeking to fund research toward the discovery of alternatives to the current polyacrylamide polymers used in hydraulic fracturing.

Friction reducers are the most common chemical compounds added to fracturing fluids. Their role is to improve the flow of fluids in wells by minimizing losses from friction. The horizontal wells used in fracturing tend to have considerably less viscosity than traditional vertical wells, resulting in a greater demand on pumping to move the liquids. Any reduction in the amount of friction will reduce the required horsepower and energy used in the operation. More efficient pumping also allows the fracturing fluids to carry more sand into the fractures, making them wider and more conductive and increasing the well’s production.

The desired friction reducers or high-viscosity friction reducers should not be persistent or bioaccumulative in the environment, should be minimally or nontoxic, and manufactured using green raw materials, solvents, and reagents, among other factors. Further exploration of these considerations can be found in the roundtable’s recent publication, Grand Challenges and Opportunities for Greener Chemical Alternatives in Hydraulic Fracturing (Harry, 2020).

The grant would provide $50,000 for a 1-year commitment to a student within the selected principal investigator’s research group at a public or private institution of higher education worldwide. The deadline for receipt of proposals is 31 October 2021 at 5 p.m. EDT. 

Current members of the roundtable are BASF, Brenntag, CES Energy Solutions, International Flavor and Fragrances, Locus Bio-Energy Solutions, NexTier, Rockwater Energy Solutions, and Shell.

For application instructions and more information on the roundtable, visit:


Harry, D., Horton, D., Durham, D. et al. 2020. Grand Challenges and Opportunities for Greener Alternatives in Hydraulic Fracturing: A Perspective from the ACS Green Chemistry Institute Oilfield Chemistry Roundtable. Energy Fuels 34 (7), 7837–7846.