What is 'fraccing'?
Fraccing (or fracking) is a technique used in the extraction of coal seam gas (CSG).
Sometimes during the extraction process the CSG doesn’t flow freely through the natural underground pathways to reach the surface. That’s when the technique called hydraulic fracturing or ‘fraccing’ is used to help the gas flow to the surface.
The process involves pumping a fluid mixture under pressure into the well. The fluid mixture consists of around 99% water and sand, and about 1% of salts and other chemical additives, many of which are found in most homes.
The hydraulic pressure created by pumping the fluid into the well forces the fractures in the coal seams to open further, creating gaps up to about 10mm wide. The sand keeps the fractures open to create a better pathway for the gas to flow to the surface.
The additives in the fluid mixture improve the efficiency of the hydraulic fracturing. For example, guar gum, a thickener used in ice cream, thickens the water in the fluid mixture to suspend the sand, and acetic acid, which can be found in vinegar, balances the acidity in the fluid.