Goodbye fracking? Microwave extraction could be the future of oil production

Microwave extraction technology would have major environmental advantages but would only be about 20 percent more expensive than conventional methods.

    2016/10/07

NSFW    GRAND JUNCTION, COLORADO — Oil industry experts in the United States are developing a technology to beam microwaves into shale rock in order to extract oil.

Oil shale is found in more shallow formations, which contains solid organic material called kerogen. Oil can be extracted from oil shale after subjecting it to high heat.
Peter Kearl, co-founder and Chiech Technology Officer of Qmast, a Colorado-based company pioneering the use of the microwave tech explained the method to Ozy.com: a microwave beam as powerful as 500 household microwave ovens would be used to extract the oil from oil shale. Once the microwave reaches the oil shale, it would heat up the water in the rock and turn them into steam, which would help releasing the oil. The rock would become transparent after the oil and water has been removed, which allows the microwave beam to penetrate further.

According to Ozy.com, a single microwave extraction well could produce about 800,000 barrels of oil. This technology might also produce water while extracting oil with the amount of one barrel of water for every three barrels of oil produced.

The Daily Caller reported that microwave extraction technology would have major environmental advantages but would only be about 20 percent more expensive than conventional methods.

Qmast is currently planned to deployed in 2017 and is expected to start producing oil by the end of that year, Ozy.com reported.
The Green River Formation, which sprawls across Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, has more than 4 trillion barrels of oil. NATIONAL PARKS SERVICE
The Green River Formation, which sprawls across Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, has more than 4 trillion barrels of oil. NATIONAL PARKS SERVICE
Microwave extraction would be about 20 percent more expensive than conventional methods. REUTERS
Microwave extraction would be about 20 percent more expensive than conventional methods. REUTERS
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