NETL Morgantown Working on Breakthrough Shale Production Techniques

As enormously productive as the Marcellus/Utica wells are, did you know that the best wells only recover perhaps 20% of the available gas trapped in shale rocks? Often it’s more like 10%, or 5% recovery. The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) in Morgantown, WV is trying to change those numbers. In a research program NETL calls “mastering the subsurface,” researchers are learning what happens at the smallest level of fracturing shale–so they can improve recovery rates using new processes and materials. In addition to improving recovery, they’re also looking for ways to cut down on water use. Since there’s a fair bit of water already trapped in shale, NETL is experimenting with carbon dioxide foam, as a way of using less water. (Don’t tell Al Gore. He HATES carbon dioxide, calling it a “pollutant” and saying it causes Mom Earth to toast). NETL is also using natural gas itself to frack rock. A lot of very important research is happening at NETL–research that may one day change the way we frack…

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