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INVESTING IN PENNSYLVANIA’S FUTURE

Nittany Extraction Technologies Develops Process to Stimulate Production of Oil and Natural Gas

The startup company Nittany Extraction Technologies was formed to commercialize the work of Penn State University professors John Hellmann and Barry Scheetz. The team has developed an innovative process for manufacturing proppants used to stimulate oil and gas production.

Nittany Extraction Technologies Founders John Hellmann and Barry Scheetz

Proppants, which are not currently manufactured in Pennsylvania, are used to “prop” open rock fractures that occur during the drilling process. Proppants create a pathway for the transmission of hydrocarbons and maintain the porosity needed to allow the flow of oil and gas. Hellman and Scheetz’s new company plans to call its first product PennProp and is on track to be producing commercial quantities by year end.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Central and Northern Pennsylvania (BFTP/CNP) invested $167,600 in the new company. An executive-in-residence (EIR) from the Ben Franklin program, Martin Bradley, has signed on to help the professors in managing their new company. Rounding out the team are Dr. Ryan Koseski, co-inventor of the technology, and Timothy Hurley, an experienced developer of new products and processes.

Professors Hellmann and Scheetz work in the University’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences and College of Engineering, respectively. They have collaborated with the oil and gas industry for more than twenty years. Using various sources of mineral and waste-glass found in Pennsylvania, the team has developed manufacturing processes that allow the use of low-cost, widely available industrial and domestic waste materials in the production of high-quality proppants. The technology offers the additional prospective benefit of diverting millions of tons of minerals from landfills.

Nittany Extraction Technologies’ process will divert millions of tons of minerals from landfills.

Pennsylvania is expected to be the largest producer of natural gas via extraction from the Marcellus Shale project, the world’s second largest natural gas deposit. The ability to manufacture cost effective proppants here in the state represents a very significant commercial opportunity.

“We saw this as a great opportunity to assist the Commonwealth in generating a large-scale manufacturing opportunity, to complement the excellent work of Penn State in promoting responsible development of the Marcellus Shale resource, and to co-invest with a group of experienced technology developers,” said Stephen Brawley, BFTP/CNP President and CEO.

The company has entered into an exclusive license with Penn State University and has agreed to sponsor product-development research within Dr. Hellmann’s lab. Using the resources of an industrial partner, the company has already successfully manufactured its first multi-ton test batch in a high-temperature processing facility. Current activities are aimed at producing sufficient quantities, in excess of one hundred tons, in order to conduct a pilot-scale field demonstration in a hydrofractured gas well in Northwestern Pennsylvania.

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This article was featured in
Keynotes April, 2011
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