Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Oil and Technology Opening the Door to Energy Self-Sufficiency for the US

Here is a bit from a press release by the American Chemical Society:
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
The gloom & doom crowd is going to be seriously disappointed. It reminds me of those in the 15th century gnashing their teeth about the disappearance of old oak forest just as Britain was rising to be the world's sea power. Or those doom & gloomsters who have been rushing about for the last 50 years warning about "peak oil". It is always very popular to linearly extrapolate from the past and discover doom awaits us. But their requires a steadfast ignorance about human ingenuity and technological change. The doom & gloom crowd always ignore "the ultimate resource" as they weave their tales of resource shortages and the doom that awaits us.

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