By Brandon Mercer

(CBS SF) — In the environmentally sensitive Bay Area, “fracked” oil may be a dirty word, but new technology being pioneered by some environmentalists’ arch nemesis, Haliburton, could make fracking literally palatable by using fluids sourced from the food industry.

Haliburton’s “CleanStim” fracking fluid was created using chemicals that accomplish the same mechanical tasks of any fracking fluid — widening gaps in rock, lubricating movement, keeping sand particles suspended in fluid, and inhibiting bacteria, but the fluid’s components are all used in the food industry to make everything from soy paste, to fruit juice, cake icing to marshmallows.

Of course to prevent any thirsty oil drillers from getting silly, in a small footnote on its CleamStim microsite Haliburton adds, “Even though all the ingredients are acquired from food suppliers, the CleanStim fluid system should not be considered edible.”

The fluid was discussed at last month’s American Chemical Society’s Green Chemical And Engineering Conference in Bethesda, Maryland. 

To be successful both in the business sense, and in making fracking more sustainable, the fluid has to actually be used. Since its debut in 2010, it’s been the fluid of choice in hundreds of fracking operations in North America, Australia, and other countries. It’s not in wide use, however.

Haliburton’s Stacia Dickson said it has been used in California, but strict regulations are actually preventing the more environmentally sustainable product from being used again.

She explained that Haliburton is working on a formula that could be disclosed in California without revealing trade secrets, but that, “For the time being our customers in California are deprived of unique and proprietary new technology developments, like CleanStim, some of which improve the environmental performance of fracturing fluid systems.”

It is a premium fracking system, and costs similar to other “premium” fluids.

When asked about developing more environmentally friendly products–or at less environmentally impactful products– Haliborton’s Dickson said sustainability is part of their business plan.

In an emailed statement, she wrote “Our innovative technologies and our operational experience and expertise are enabling us to favorably impact our environmental footprint and improve our management of the risks and social challenges that are inherent in our industry. Our principles provide the foundation and the structure on which we are building our company’s future. It is, therefore, important that we match our principles with action.”

Haliburton’s website offers this list of components in the fluids, their normal use by the food industry, and whether they’re considered hazardous on Materials Safety Data Sheets.  Obviously, some food-grade components like even vinegar might be considered hazardous in high concentrations.



Enzyme Soybean Paste*, Fruit Juices and Nectars*, Laundry Detergent, Dishwasher Detergent, Toilet Cleaner, Industrial Pulp and Paper Processing Aid Yes
Exthoxylated Sugar-Based Fatty Acid Ester Synthetic Food Flavoring Substance, Natural Baby Wipes, Baby Wash and Shampoo No
Inorganic Acid Cheese, Alcoholic Beverages, Wheel Cleaner, Rust Dissolver, Dishwashing Detergent Yes
Inorganic Salt Food Starch � Modified, Water Clarifier, Fish Tank Water Treatment Yes
Maltodextrin Sweetener, Glaze and Icing Sugar, Coconut Milk and Coconut Cream, Shower Gel No
Organic Acid Fruit Juice, Dishwasher Cleaner, All-Purpose Cleaner, Hand Soap Yes
Organic Ester Liquid Egg Products, Food Resinous and Polymeric Coatings, Hairspray Yes
Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil Confectionary Chocolate Coating, Hair Detangler, Body Lotion, Lip Liner, Soap, Lotion, Cream and Other Skin Care Formulations No
Polysaccharide Polymer Canned Fish, Processed Cheese, Dairy-Based Desserts and Drinks, Beer, Toothpaste Yes
Sulfonated Alcohol Egg White Solids, Marshmallows, Dishwashing Liquid, Home Dilutable Cleaner, Shampoo, Acne Scrub, Shaving Cream, Liquid Hand Soap Yes
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