What Do Kitty Litter and Shale Drilling Have in Common?

GN Shale Shaker – Mini Mud Recycling System

This is kind of an offbeat story for a Friday. What do kitty litter and fracking have in common? It’s not a trick question! They both use something called bentonite. Over 90% of all bentonite mined is mined in the U.S. Some half of all bentonite worldwide (found in volcanic ash) comes from one state: Wyoming. Bentonite, which is nontoxic, is called the mineral of 1,000 uses: “It clarifies wine and other alcoholic beverages, forms an impervious liner to keep landfills from leaking, removes ink during paper recycling, and goes into a slew of homeopathic remedies.” However, the two biggest uses for bentonite are (yep) kitty litter and drilling mud used to drill conventional and unconventional (shale) oil and gas wells. Bentonite keeps the drill bit cool and carries cuttings (dirt and rock chips) to the surface. You’ll find big tanks full of the stuff sitting on drill pads. Drilling mud gets recycled on location…

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