The most significant use of guar and its derivatives has been in petroleum production, specifically, the area of hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing involves the use of high pressure to crack open hydrocarbonbearing zones. Guar is used to thicken the fracturing fluid so that it can carry graded sand into the fractured rock. The sand then serves as a proppant to keep the fracture open, creating a route for oil or gas to flow to the well bore.

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First wells and hydraulic fracturing

The first fracture treatments were performed in the late 1940s with crude or refined oils as the fracturing fluid. During that same period of time, emulsions of caustic and tall oil were developed to act as the proppant transport medium. Water based fluids, in which starch was added to provide viscosity, were introduced in 1953. Guar came into use primarily because of its viscosifying and friction reducing properties in addition to its safety in handling. The first fracture treatment using crosslinked guar was performed in 1969.

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Hydraulic Fracturing fluids

Guar and its derivatives are the most extensively used polymers in fractured fluids. The first commercial HPG (hydroxypropyl guar) was made in the early 1960s by the Specialty Products Division of General Mills, Inc. USA, predecessor to the Water Soluble Polymers Division of Henkel Corporation. W.A. Jordan, a General Mills scientist, patented the use of HPG in fracturing . The first commercial sale of  HPG for use in a fracturing fluid was in the late 1960s. Its success in this area and the ever increasing need to economically stimulate domestic oil and gas production has lead to extensive research in guar derivatives. The result has been significant improvement in HPG and HPG systems, as well as the development of other derivatives, such as carboxymethyl hydroxypropyl guar (CMHPG).


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