All sorts of people are more or less violently opposed to 'fracking' or hydraulic fracturing, the process that releases crude oil, natural gas and other resources from deep rock formations. Amongst other things, opponents claim that the process contaminates ground-water, making it undrinkable or even poisoning those who use it. (The fact that even the EPA doesn't agree with them hasn't stopped them, of course. Extremists are seldom easily deterred.)
Now comes news that should put the cat firmly among the pigeons. Gizmag reports:
Chimera Energy Corporation of Houston, Texas, has announced that they are licensing a new method for extracting oil and gas from shale fields that doesn't contaminate ground water resources because it uses exothermic reactions instead of water to fracture shale.
. . .
The Chimera process ... eliminat[es] any working liquid. Details of the process have not been made public yet due to patent concerns, but Chimera Energy uses what is called “dry fracturing” or “exothermic extraction.” First developed in China, this involves using hot gases rather than liquid to fracture the shale. This was originally intended for wells in arctic regions where water used in fracking freezes, but Chimera Energy has developed it for general use.
In dry fracturing, metal oxides, ultra-expansive evaporants and pumice are pumped into the well. The metal oxides react with one another to form an exothermic reaction. Extremely hot gases are generated that expand and crack the shale. Meanwhile, the pumice shoots in and reinforces the fractures, keeping them from closing and allowing the gas or oil to flow.
Chimera Energy claims that not only is the technique environmentally safe, but that it is compatible with any existing well in the world.
There's more at the link.
Now what will the anti-frackers say? If there's no fluid being injected deep underground, there won't be anything to seep up through layers of rock (sometimes many miles deep) to contaminate natural water supplies. If they honestly concede this, my respect for them will increase. If they try desperately to find something - anything! - else to use as an argument against dry fracking too, then they'll reveal themselves as nothing more than enviro-weenies in another guise . . . and then we'll know how to respond to them.