In: Science

February 1, 2012

Are We Fracking or Making Fraccidents?

Fracking is a relatively new process of natural gas extraction. Fracking refers to the procedure of creating fractures in rocks and rock formations by injecting fluid into cracks to force them further open. The step-by-step process to fracking is this: First they start out by drilling vertically into the ground to a desired depth. It then turns ninety degrees and continues horizontally several thousand feet into shale, which is believed to contain trapped natural gas. A mixture of water, sand, and various chemicals, that fracking companies will not disclose, is pumped into the well, which splits the shale so that the natural gas can escape. The natural gas escapes through the cracks made in the shale and is brought back up to the surface to be processed. In the US today, people are arguing about whether or not fracking should be done.
The goal of fracking is to create a passage way for the natural gas to come back up the well to the surface where it can be processed and refined. There are lots of layers of natural gas and oil in the shale. The pressure they use to make the fractures in the rock is immense, but without a passageway there is no way the natural gas can return to the surface. Therefore there is need for a well to be drilled several thousand feet into the ground. In doing so, the drilling into the shale rock creates fractures, which releases the natural gas and allows it to rise to the surface.
There are many pros and cons to fracking. Some pros to fracking are: potential energy independence. The United States Department of Energy estimates that we will get, roughly, 2.6 trillion barrels of oil reserves if fracking is done. Natural gas burns cleaner than other fossil fuels. Some researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that replacing coal power plants...

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