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Our goal is to understand the complex, multi-scale mechanics of hydraulic fracturing and to develop new technologies that support a growing breadth of industries.

The challenge

Understanding the complex mechanics of hydraulic fracturing

Hydraulic fracturing is a core technology in conventional petroleum production and in fast growing areas of unconventional gas, geothermal energy and carbon capture and storage.

Our response

Creating a world-leading science capability

We have formed a research team that combines theoretical development and experimental investigations with application-ready capabilities to provide basic research and novel technologies aligned with the needs of an expanding range of industries. We are developing numerical models, monitoring methods, and powerful, flexible hydraulic fracture technologies.

Our research areas and scientific focus include:

  • how hydraulic fractures grow through a rock containing natural fractures
  • how multi-scale features of hydraulic fractures can be quantified in the laboratory
  • how novel methods for hydraulic fracture monitoring at laboratory and field scales, can be developed with an emphasis on optical and wave methods in the laboratory and tiltmeter monitoring in the field
  • how hydraulic fracturing can benefit new and fast growing sectors such as engineered geothermal systems, unconventional gas production and carbon storage as well as established sectors such as mining for which hydraulic fracturing is a novel tool.

The results

Creating the building blocks for future research

We are actively pioneering new applications of hydraulic fracturing to:

  • pre-condition ore bodies for caving-type mining operations
  • enhanced gas drainage from coal seams
  • geothermal reservoir development
  • carbon capture and storage operations.

Several novel applications have emerged from our research, which include inducing controlled goaf caving in longwall coal mining and preconditioning ore bodies for block and sub-level caving operations. We have also demonstrated the benefit of stimulation of gas drainage from horizontal in-seam boreholes in coal. We additionally develop and manufacture special purpose equipment and instrumentation for particular applications or scenarios.

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