Biodegradable polymers could be used to allay environmental concerns about hydraulic fracturing operations, said Michael Malveda, specialty-chemicals analyst at IHS Chemical. Biopolymers may replace the substances needed to suspend proppants in fracking mixtures. "This is truly a good, green alternative; it's going to have good prospects for the future. But it's difficult to say that this is a clear winner, given the many things that are being examined," said Ray Will, a consulting director at IHS.

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