frac sand
Heyl Patterson

How Does it Work: Frac Sand Processing

frac sand

Frac sand is a special sand used in hydraulic fracturing to extract oil and gas from deep underground, inaccessible deposits. It works by keeping cracks in underground rocks open so oil and gas can flow better. The good things about using frac sand are:

It lets us extract oil and gas from deposits where conventional drilling methods don’t work well. The process also helps in improving the efficiency of the whole extraction process. This means more oil and gas production, resulting in better profitability.

Frac Sand Processing and Its History

Frac sand in the mining industry has undergone significant developments over time. 

In the late 1860s, it was used to stimulate shallow hard-rock oil wells. It wasn’t until the 1940s that the technique of hydraulic fracturing began to be applied more extensively, using water and sand to recover gas and oil from less accessible deposits.

Frac sand’s processing techniques have seen revolutionary changes since those early days. By the late 1990s, the introduction of specialized frac sand marked a substantial improvement in fracking efficacy. With advancements in rotary and fluid bed drying, the processing of frac sand has been refined to meet the exact needs of the oil and gas industry with greater efficiency.

This transformation of frac sand from a basic sediment to a proppant illustrates the evolution of an industry that continuously adapts to technological innovations. 

Rotary Dryers in Frac Sand Processing

Rotary dryers are at the center of frac sand processing. These are huge rotating cylinders or shells, slightly inclined horizontally, that allow the passage of hot air through them. As and when the frac sand enters from one end, it gets lifted and tossed around by special parts inside called flights. These flights are designed to make sure the sand heats up properly. When the sand tumbles out the other side, it’s dry and ready for fracking. 

But that’s not all—how the hot air flows through the tube matters, too. Sometimes, it goes in the same direction as the sand, sometimes the opposite, and this choice affects how dry and warm the sand gets.

Ongoing innovations have made these dryers work better. Seal designs have changed, along with airflow adjustments, that have further enhanced energy efficiency and product quality, leading to better yields. And with that, we’re getting more oil and gas than before, which shows just how important it can be to get this sand-drying process right.

Fluid Bed Dryers in Frac Sand Processing

Fluid bed dryers are key in making frac sand dry and ready for use. They do this by using less energy and uniformly heating the sand. They work by floating the sand in the drying gas or air, which helps evaporate the moisture quickly and evenly. This means the sand gets dry while retaining the integrity of the grains.

These dryers are also a smart move for saving money in the long run. They incur low maintenance, which is great for keeping the costs of fracking down. When you use fluid bed dryers, you choose a method that works well and is efficient without spending too much, and that’s important for getting the most out of your resources.


We started off by answering the question, ‘How does hydraulic fracturing work.’ We learned that drying frac sand properly is the key to maintaining the efficiency of operations. There are two primary drying solutions: 

  1. Rotary dryers 
  2. Fluid bed dryers

Rotary dryers are ideal for processing large quantities of sand, making them suitable for high-volume drying tasks. Fluid bed dryers, on the other hand, offer energy and cost efficiency along with gentle processing to maintain sand quality. 

Choosing the Right Dryer for Your Frac Sand Needs

At Heyl Patterson, we understand that the choice between rotary and fluid bed dryers can significantly impact the quality of your frac sand and the cost-effectiveness of your drying process. That’s why we offer both types of dryers to meet your unique needs.

Want to make your sand drying better? Contact us to help you achieve operational goals; download our whitepaper for more information about Frac Sand Processing.