Using the energy in oil shale without releasing carbon dioxide in a greenhouse world


Oil shale could become an important energy source in a greenhouse world of the future thanks to a new extraction technique that limits the release of carbon dioxide.

Oil shale could become an important energy source in a greenhouse world of the future thanks to a new extraction technique that limits the release of carbon dioxide.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28, 2011 — New technology that combines production of electricity with capture of carbon dioxide could make billions of barrels of oil shale — now regarded as off-limits because of the huge amounts of carbon dioxide released in its production — available as an energy source. That’s the topic of the latest episode in the American Chemical Society‘s (ACS) award-winning “Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions” podcast series.

Adam Brandt, Ph.D., notes in the podcast that almost 3 trillion barrels of oil are trapped in the world’s deposits of oil-shale, a dark-colored rock laden with petroleum-like material. Brandt and colleague Hiren Mulchandani are at Stanford University.

The United States has by far the world’s largest deposits in the Green River Formation, which covers parts of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. The domestic oil shale resource could provide 1.2 trillion to 1.8 trillion barrels. But concerns over the large amounts of greenhouse gases — mainly carbon dioxide — released by current methods prevent many companies from trying to extract oil from shale.

Brandt’s answer is EPICC — a self-fueled method that generates electricity, as well as the heat needed to produce that electricity from shale. The report, which appears in ACS’ journal Energy & Fuels, describes how EPICC could generate large amounts of electricity without releasing into the atmosphere carbon dioxide from burning the shale. That carbon would be captured and stored underground as part of the production process.

The new podcast is available without charge at iTunes and from www.acs.org/globalchallenges.

Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions is a series of podcasts describing some of the 21st Century’s most daunting problems, and how cutting-edge research in chemistry matters in the quest for solutions. Global Challenges is the centerpiece in an alliance on sustainability between ACS and the Royal Society of Chemistry. Global Challenges is a sweeping panorama of global challenges that includes dilemmas such as providing a hungry, thirsty world with ample supplies of safe food and clean water; developing alternatives to petroleum to fuel society; preserving the environment and assuring a sustainable future for our children and improving human health. During the 2011 global celebration of the International Year of Chemistry (IYC), Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions also is focusing on the main themes of IYC — health, environment, energy and materials.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 163,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

Contact: Michael Bernstein, m_bernstein@acs.org, 202-872-6042
American Chemical Society

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