February 23 2017
Oil and gas technology company LWP Technologies have taken a major step towards their goal of breaking into the multi-billion-dollar US fracking market with the award of a US patent.
The Brisbane-based company announced this week the US Patent and Trademark Office would issue a patent on 7 March to a wholly owned subsidiary of LWP for its next-generation “proppants” made from fly-ash waste.
Proppants are a sand-like commodity used to ‘prop’ open tiny fractures that are created in shale rocks by “fracking” the ground. They allow oil and gas to flow to the surface by holding the fractures open.
Proppants, which are traditionally a ceramic material made from clays and/or bauxite and they are often the single largest cost item in the fracking of a petroleum well.
LWP’s unique proposition is that their proppants are made from the largely unwanted bi-product of coal fired power stations known as “fly-ash”. The company says their fly-ash based propppants exceed the equivalent standards for many other non fly-ash proppants in a number of areas including the amount of pressure they can withstand before they are crushed which leads to the fracture closing and the oil and gas flow ceasing.
LWP has fought long and hard for recognition of its breakthrough technology. The company first applied for a US patent in 2013 and after a number of years proving the uniqueness of its process, they have been awarded a patent without any amendments to the wording of their original application.
LWP’s Chairman, Siegfried Konig, said “We are gratified that the US Patent and Trademarks Office has recognised the novelty and uniqueness of our method of manufacturing a round proppant material primarily composed of fly ash – an abundant, low cost and widely available byproduct of coal-fired power stations around the world.”
“We will continue to build on and strengthen our intellectual property portfolio and look forward to working with our partners to bring low-cost, lightweight and high-strength proppants to the market.”
LWP this week also updated the market on progress with US marketing activities. The company said it was encouraged by progress with potential US licensees and the growing levels of enquiry from the US oil and gas industry. Manufacturing costs for LWP’s process continued to reduce through research and development and this was broadening the range of enquiries.
The company also reported that engineering designs for the planned recommissioning and upgrade of a proppant plant in Pune, India, was expected to be completed shortly.
LWP appears to be well funded with total cash and liquid investments of $2.3m and they have a pending claim for another $2.3m in federal Government tax offset grants for their research and development efforts.