New Insight on Deformation of Walnut/Ceramic Proppant Pack under Closure Stress in Hydraulic Fracture: Numerical Investigation

Document Type: Research Paper


1 Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Petroleum Engineering, Faculty of Chemical Engineering, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran


This study is an attempt to investigate the mechanical behavior of proppant packs deforming under compression loading. A generalized confined compression test (CCT) was simulated in the present study to investigate the deformation of walnut/ceramic proppants against compression. In this way, the CCT was simulated using ABAQUS explicit code. Unlike ordinary CCT, we obtained permeability of compressed packs through image processing of deformed packs. It was observed that a pack with small particles could markedly withstand deformation, however, at the expense of having lower permeability. Also, selecting a proper proppant pack strongly depends on the prevailing stress regime, where at low stress (<30 MPa) uniform walnut pack has the same permeability as a medley of walnut/ceramic pack. But, at greater stresses (> 40 Mpa), the pack with more ceramic is the best choice. Mixtures of walnut and ceramic proppants showed greatly strength improvement compared to similar cases with pure walnut granules. As a result, making use of such packing is highly recommended due to significant mechanical stability and also being of lower price compared to packs of pure ceramic granules.


[1]     Liang F, Sayed M, Al-Muntasheri GA, Chang FF, Li L. A comprehensive review on proppant technologies. Petroleum. 2016 Mar 1;2(1):26-39.

[2]     Yao Y, Wang W, Keer LM. An energy based analytical method to predict the influence of natural fractures on hydraulic fracture propagation. Engineering Fracture Mechanics. 2018 Feb 15;189:232-45.

[3]     Patel PS, Robart CJ, Ruegamer M, Yang A. Analysis of US hydraulic fracturing fluid system and proppant trends. InSPE Hydraulic Fracturing Technology Conference 2014 Feb 4. Society of Petroleum Engineers

[4]     Tomac I, Gutierrez M. Micromechanics of proppant agglomeration during settling in hydraulic fractures. Journal of Petroleum Exploration and Production Technology. 2015 Dec 1;5(4):417-34.

[5]     El-M. Shokir EM, Al-Quraishi AA. Experimental and numerical investigation of proppant placement in hydraulic fractures. Petroleum Science and Technology. 2009 Oct 21;27(15):1690-703.

[6]     Peng HH, Lin CK, Chung YC. Effects of Particle Stiffness on Mechanical Response of Granular Solid Under Confined Compression. Procedia Engineering. 2014 Jan 1;79:143-52.

[7]     Munjiza A, Owen DR, Bicanic N. A combined finite-discrete element method in transient dynamics of fracturing solids. Engineering computations. 1995 Feb 1;12(2):145-74.

[8]     Guo J, Luo B, Lu C, Lai J, Ren J. Numerical investigation of hydraulic fracture propagation in a layered reservoir using the cohesive zone method. Engineering Fracture Mechanics. 2017 Dec 1;186:195-207.

[9]     Kulkarni MC, Ochoa OO. Creating novel granular mixtures as proppants: Insights to shape, size, and material considerations. Mechanics of Advanced Materials and Structures. 2017 May 19;24(7):605-14.

[10]  Xia L, Yvonnet J, Ghabezloo S. Phase field modeling of hydraulic fracturing with interfacial damage in highly heterogeneous fluid-saturated porous media. Engineering Fracture Mechanics. 2017 Dec 1;186:158-80.

[11]  Carrier B, Granet S. Numerical modeling of hydraulic fracture problem in permeable medium using cohesive zone model. Engineering Fracture Mechanics. 2012 Jan 1;79:312-28.

[12]  Kulkarni MC, Ochoa OO. Mechanics of light weight proppants: A discrete approach. Composites Science and Technology. 2012 May 2;72(8):879-85.

[13]  Kulkarni MC, Ochoa OO. Light weight composite proppants: Computational and experimental study. Mechanics of Advanced Materials and Structures. 2012 Jan 1;19(1-3):109-18.

[14]  ankowiak T, Lodygowski T. Identification of parameters of concrete damage plasticity constitutive model. Foundations of Civil and Environmental Engineering. 2005 Jun;6(1):53-69.

[15]  Xu P, Yu B. Developing a new form of permeability and Kozeny–Carman constant for homogeneous porous media by means of fractal geometry. Advances in Water Resources. 2008 Jan 1;31(1):74-81.