Since the 1990s, the environmental issues have been in a consistent tug of war against big industries and fossil fuel advocates. Both sides have been developing green technologies or creating new ones to balance out their act. But majorly, industries are coming up with new ways to exploit this planet’s natural resources at a very fast pace.
The current debate surrounds fracking; the latest method for mining natural gas reserves. Fracking is the vernacular used to explain hydraulic fracturing; a technique through which wells are stimulated with the help of pressurized liquid and underground rock formations are broken up so that the natural gas reserves underneath can be tapped into. This method was developed in 1947, by J.B. Clark and Floyd Farris of Stanolind Oil and Gas Company.
Check out our amazing infographic to know more about fracking and the bigger debate that surrounds it.
Uses of Fracking
Primarily, fracking is used to mine and extract shale gas, tight gas, coal seam gas or tight oil. But there are also many other uses of this method:
- To stimulate wells present underground
- To precondition mining of rock cave-ins
- Enhances waste remediation, mostly hydrocarbon wastes or toxic spills
- To dispose of water by inserting it deep into the ground
- To calculate the stress in Earth
- Used for electricity generation in geothermal systems
- To increase ingestion rates for geological sequestration of CO
- To increase the well drinking water yield
How Fracking Works
The process generally uses pressurized liquids to create cracks in the rock formations beneath the earth’s surface so that fuel wells can be found and rendered. On an average scale, all mining sites will need almost 200 trucks to completely transport the water and supplies. The chemicals and sand are then added to form the fluid for fracking. With extreme pressure, this fluid is then injected almost ten thousand feet in to the ground through wells. When the fluid reaches the bottom of the well, the extreme pressure causes the rock formations to crack and natural gas is released as a result, an entire day of fracking can generate about three hundred barrels of natural gas.
Environmental Concerns Surrounding Fracking
Because this procedure involves mining into the depths of the earth and trying to change the formations of rock underground, many environmental concerns arise that can be a direct result of this process.
- Each job will require almost 40,000 gallons of chemicals
- Including some known toxins and carcinogens, the fracking fluid contains almost 300 different kinds of chemicals
- Only 30-40 percent of the fluid is recovered once the procedure has been carried out, the rest is lost within the ground
- The fluid that is wasted is disposed off in open pits that can release harmful and reactive compounds
- 1-8 million gallons of water is sued for each job
- There have been numerous cases of water contamination reported near or next to drilling sites
- The reported and documented cases suffer respiratory, neurological or sensory damage which is caused by the intake of contaminated water
- Harmful substances like Methane Gas and other toxic compounds are discharged while the drilling process and contaminate the ground water or wells situated nearby
- Near fracking sites, the Methane levels in drinking water wells is reported to be 17% higher than normal
The Most Toxic Chemicals Used in Fracking
The highly reactive and most toxic chemicals that are used in this procedure are:
- Hydrochloro or Muriatic Acid
- Diesel Fuel
- Sulfuric Acid
- Crystalline Silicate
- BTEX Compounds
- Hydrogen Flouride
- Petroleum Distillate
- Polyacrylamide (PAM)
- Ethelene Glycol
- Ethoxylated Alcohol
- Sodium Acrylate-Acrylamide Copolymer