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Published March 09, 2012, 10:24 PM

Researchers exploring new benefit of ND oil and gas industry

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Another new industry related to oil and gas could be coming to Western North Dakota, and researchers here at NDSU are exploring whether it is possible.

Another new industry related to oil and gas could be coming to Western North Dakota, and researchers here at NDSU are exploring whether it is possible.

The process of fracking to extract oil and natural gas requires that a clay substance be injected into the fracture to keep it open so that the oil or gas can flow out. Researchers at NDSU are looking at clay from areas around Dickinson to see if it will work in this process.

The clay is brought in and made into smaller pieces, then put under pressure. From there it's made into a tablet. Here they are shot with an X-ray

Margret Piranian – CNSE Lab NDSU: “You get a spectrum coming off of it that has a bunch of peaks, the peak position tells you what elements are present and the peak intensity tells you how much of the element is present.”

In this case what they are looking for is aluminum. In the final process the clay would be made into tiny injectable pellets. If it turns out that this North Dakota clay can be made into this product we may be talking about grey gold instead of black gold in Western North Dakota.

Eric Jarabek – CNSE Lab NDSU: "It allows for an instate product to be used in the oil field that's not currently being used at least to the degree that other sources are.

Early indications for the clay are promising according to the North Dakota State Geologist.

The testing on the clay should be done by the end of summer.

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