Companies need information about their industrial fluids--how it moves, where it's coming from, and where it's going. Tracing these fluids is a key element for everything from environmental monitoring to optimizing existing processes. One market with a large problem is hydraulic fracturing (also called "fracking" or "fracing"), an oil and gas extraction process that involves pumping fluid underground. While the process has increased the nation's domestic energy supply, many believe it may compromise drinking water sources near drilling sites. Communities are concerned, and companies are starting to recognize both the need to provide accountability and the value of generating better information about their wells. Likewise, nuclear energy utilities with aging power plants are also concerned about leak detection. Many dyes and other existing tracers are chemically incompatible with nuclear conditions, so leaks can sometimes take a very long time to find. This can result in costly down-time for the power plants, and increased environmental concern from local communities.
Our solution is BaseTrace, a well-specific DNA-based tracer that can be added to the hydraulic fracturing fluid, enabling us to better find leaks and trace them back to their original fluid source. The tracer is composed of inexpensive, inert strands of resilient DNA that can be mixed with a wide variety of industrial fluids, providing each fluid source with a chemical fingerprint that is simple and cheap to identify. This means that leakages in power plants can be traced back to individual tanks or fluid systems, greatly returning analytical turnaround time. Hydraulic fracturing fluid can be traced back to the individual source well, allowing for faster fixes and improved well efficiency. BaseTrace can help reduce liability risks, and ultimately helps to answer questions for both industries and local communities. BaseTrace is currently seeking partnerships with energy producers, service providers, and environmental service entities to help in our forward push with demonstrations and commercialization.