Fracking has faced serious opposition from environmental groups throughout the United States and the communities that surround these industrial operations. The main issue surrounding fracking is the disposal of wastewater that some fear could contaminate groundwater in these communities where fracking operations are located.
Ever since fracking took off in the United States, the nation has had a love/hate relationship with this innovative process of retrieving shale oil from beneath the earth. The benefits include the ability to keep oil production within our borders, smaller scale fracking operations can compete with oil from the Middle East and it also creates more jobs here at home. However, environmentalist groups fear that fracking is having a negative impact on our country’s environment, poisoning groundwater and some even claim it is creating earthquakes in parts of the country that haven’t been seismically active in the past. But these concerns may be put to rest as a new, more environmentally friendly and efficient fracking method is being developed.
It may sound like something out of a science fiction movie but hydraulic fracking could instead become microwave fracking. This new process is more efficient, safer and more environmentally friendly than traditional hydraulic fracking. The biggest concern with fracking is the disposal of wastewater. However with this new process water would be able to be eliminated from the process entirely. [It would cause] “a whole shift in the paradigm, – We don’t need water for our process and we don’t have wastewater to dispose of afterward,” said Peter Kearl, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of the microwave fracking company Qmast, bit.ly/2dMVK5q
Even though the technology sounds like something that would take years before we see it in action, experts claim the first microwave fracking systems could be deployed in the field by 2017. What’s even more surprising than that is how quickly they will start producing oil; by the end of that same year. Not only will microwave fracking improve this controversial process’s image, it could also greatly expand U.S. oil reserves. America has control over the world’s largest untapped oil reserve, the Green River Formation in Colorado. There are three to four trillion barrels of unobtainable oil shale below the surface. However most of the Green River Formation is made up of oil shale which is different than shale oil. Conventional fracking rigs are already able to effectively retrieve shale oil but they’re not as effective when it comes to oil shale. Oil shale is a solid organic material accumulation of shale rocks. To get oil out of oil shale, the solid rock must be crushed and then heated to liquefy the oil or by injecting steam into the rock. These methods aren’t particularly effective but microwave fracking could be the answer. Microwaves can heat the rock more effectively and efficiently than steam which is ideal if an oil company wants to produce economically justifiable oil from oil shale.
A single one of these microwave oil operations could produce around 800,000 barrels of oil. This could be what the oil company has been searching for, a competitive yet environmentally friendly way of producing shale oil. What is even more impressive is how soon these operations may be deployed and deployed. By 2017 the United States may be utilizing this incredible technology to help power the world. We can’t wait to see one of these microwave fracking operations in action. We’ll have more developments surrounding microwave fracking as they become available so check back soon.
Find out more about Microwave Fracking in the video