Sunday, 29 May 2011

What the Frack?

So the video explains what fracking is.  Fracking can get a lot more oil out of the ground than what is on the surface.  This is the process of initiating, and subsequently propagating a fracture in a rock layer, employing the pressure of a fluid to remove the oil from the rock.  A wide range of fluids from ionic surfactants to simple organics are pushed into the holes to bring up the oil.  Research into better surfactants and potentially mixtures of surfactants  are needed.  These surfactants and simple organic chemicals like methane and benzene are required to change the surface tension of the oil and have it mix in the water for extraction.

Why do oil companies want to frack?  There is still about 70% of the oil left in the ground after the oil wells have dried.  So there are potentially trillions of dollars in unearthed oil.  That is fracking fantastic right?  Well all this fracking comes at a cost which is contaminating the water supply.  These techniques have already devastated places in  Pennsylvania and New York with widespread combustibles leaking into the water supply.   

In this BBC news video below one guy in the town who leased an oil company his land to frack on shows how methane is leaking in his water supply.  He lights a match on top of the bottle and shows the methane flame.  Well that is fracked up!  The spokesperson for Cabot said, 'there was always methane in the water around these areas and the regulators found no problems with our practices.' Well that is really fracked up!

Methane and benzene when in water can easily be measured using a tensiometer or some other device.  The surface tension of water as the blog is called is 72 dynes.  When you add methane or other organic chemicals to water they should lower the surface tension compared to pure water.  The methane on the surface of the water can both lower the surface tension of the water and make the water flammable.  Now that is fracked up!

(Oil or water you decide)