Application of X-ray computed tomography (CT) for the determination of mechanical behaviour of a single proppant

Tharaka D. Rathnaweera, Ranjith P. Gamage, Wu Wei, Samintha A. Perera, Asadul Haque, Ayal M. Wanniarachchi, Adheesha K. Bandara

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperOther


Over the last several decades, many studies have generated a large amount of proppant performance data, but these studies have only focused on proppant conductivity, with no attention to how proppant mechanical properties vary under loading conditions. The impact of mechanical behaviour on proppant performance can only be fully understood by the combined investigation of micro-structural and mechanical changes with increasing loading. Therefore, this study aims to identify such micro-structural behaviour, and in particular the impact on proppant mechanical properties. Proppant samples were tested under one-dimensional compression loading using high-resolution X-ray CT scanning technology. The reconstructed images taken at different load stages were analysed to capture the micro-structural behaviour and finally correlated with the mechanical behaviour of the proppant. According to the results, there are significant micro-pore voids inside the proppant mass. When the proppant has a higher degree of porosity, there is a considerable reduction of the compressive strength which is not favourable for hydro-fracturing treatment designs. Moreover, it is clear that the brittleness of the proppant decreases with increasing porosity, as its Young’s modulus reduces with increasing pore voids. Therefore, it is important to have high manufacturing standards to achieve effective proppant performance at great depths. The micro-structural behaviour under increasing loading was investigated by performing comprehensive CT image analysis using Drishti software. According to the results, under compressive loading, proppants cleave and generate large fragments like a flower, and this happens suddenly and quite violently through the material. Interestingly, post-failure analysis revealed that the failure mechanism of a single proppant consists of three major stress levels, where initially proppant fails at a high stress level and gains some crushing-associated strength at later stages.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationISRM International Symposium - 10th Asian Rock Mechanics Symposium, ARMS 2018
PublisherInternational Society for Rock Mechanics
ISBN (Electronic)9789811190032
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018
EventAsian Rock Mechanics Symposium 2018 - Singapore, Singapore
Duration: 29 Oct 20183 Nov 2018
Conference number: 10th

Publication series

NameISRM International Symposium - 10th Asian Rock Mechanics Symposium, ARMS 2018


ConferenceAsian Rock Mechanics Symposium 2018
Abbreviated titleARMS 2018


  • 3-D Rendered
  • Crushing Strength
  • CT Images
  • Proppant

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