Metal Fabrication: The Secret To A Great Roll Cage

How Ceramic Sand Is Manufactured

by Sally Burke

Proppants used in the oil drilling industry are expected to grow faster well into 2019. That is important for any company that manufactures ceramic sand, a proppant that has greater durability and greater efficacy when drilling through harder stone and rock. If you are curious about the growth and usage of ceramic sand from an investor's point of view, or you just want to know more about this product from companies like Hawthorn Industries, it helps to know how it is manufactured.

​Ingredients Are Pulverized

Artists who work in ceramics know that clay can come in blocks ready to use, but the true ceramicist creates his/her own clay from ceramic powders. That is exactly how ceramic sand starts. Various ingredients, including silica and quartz, are ground into a powder. This is the powder that will eventually turn into a ceramic pellet (several millions of ceramic pellets per batch, actually).

​Powder Is Turned to Pellets

A slight bit of liquid is added to the ceramic powder. Then this mildly damp "clay" is turned into millions of tiny pellets, all the exact same size and shape, thanks to a machine that spends countless hours churning out pellets. The next step is drying the pellets, just as a ceramicist dries out a clay piece before firing it in a kiln.

​Pellets Are Dried and Fired

All of those clay pellets are now dried to a necessary hardness. Then they are tossed in a massive kiln, heated to almost three thousand degrees, and left inside for several hours. When they are done cooking, they have become ceramic, and there is no visual trace of the clay they once were. Every batch spends a few more hours cooling until they are no longer warm or hot to the touch.

​Bagged or Filled Containers

The final step, of course, is to package the ceramic sand. This type of sand can be bagged, but for the oil industry, it is best if frac sand shipping containers are used to contain and ship the ceramic pellets. Frac sand shipping containers are filled to the brim with the ceramic pellets. Then the containers are mounted to a frac sand trailer/chassis and shipped to the oil company.

Because these pellets have other uses, some of each batch may also be bagged for other consumers. Forty- and eighty-pound bags are common. The bags are loaded onto pallets and placed on shipping trucks to take to the stores and consumers.