An alternative to conventional rock fragmentation methods using SCDA: A review

Radhika Vidanage De Silva, Ranjith Pathegama Gamage, Mandadige Samintha Anne Perera

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleOtherpeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)


Global energy and material consumption are expected to rise in exponential proportions during the next few decades, generating huge demands for deep earth energy (oil/gas) recovery and mineral processing. Under such circumstances, the continuation of existing methods in rock fragmentation in such applications is questionable due to the proven adverse environmental impacts associated with them. In this regard; the possibility of using more environmentally friendly options as Soundless Chemical Demolition Agents (SCDAs) play a vital role in replacing harmful conventional rock fragmentation techniques for gas; oil and mineral recovery. This study reviews up to date research on soundless cracking demolition agent (SCDA) application on rock fracturing including its limitations and strengths, possible applications in the petroleum industry and the possibility of using existing rock fragmentation models for SCDA-based rock fragmentation; also known as fracking. Though the expansive properties of SCDAs are currently used in some demolition works, the poor usage guidelines available reflect the insufficient research carried out on its material's behavior. SCDA is a cementitious powdery substance with quicklime (CaO) as its primary ingredient that expands upon contact with water; which results in a huge expansive pressure if this CaO hydration reaction occurs in a confined condition. So, the mechanism can be used for rock fragmentation by injecting the SCDA into boreholes of a rock mass; where the resulting expansive pressure is sufficient to create an effective fracture network in the confined rock mass around the borehole. This expansive pressure development, however, dependent on many factors, where formation water content creates a negative influence on this due to required greater degree of hydration under greater water contents and temperature creates a positive influence by accelerating the reaction. Having a precise understanding of the fracture propagation mechanisms when using SCDA is important due to the formation of complex fracture networks in rocks. Several models can be found in the literature based on the tangential and radial stresses acting on a rock mass surrounding an SCDA charged borehole. Those fracture models with quasi-static fracturing mechanism that occurs in Mode I type tensile failure show compatibility with SCDA fracturing mechanisms. The effect of borehole diameter, spacing and the arrangement on expansive pressure generation and corresponding fracture network generation is important in the SCDA fracturing process and effective handling of them would pave the way to creating an optimum fracture network in a targeted rock formation. SCDA has many potential applications in unconventional gas and oil recovery and in-situ mining in mineral processing. However, effective utilization of SCDA in such application needs much extensive research on the performance of SCDA with respect to its potential applications, particularly when considering unique issues arising in using SCDA in different applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number958
Number of pages31
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Expansive properties
  • Fracture mechanisms
  • Rock fracturing
  • Soundless cracking demolition agents (SCDAs)
  • Volume expansion mechanism

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