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4 Ways to Make Fracking Greener and More Sustainable

Greener Fracking
stephen bowler
 
Did you know fracking can be done more safely?
 
I used to think that the environmental and societal damage from fracking was inevitable, and that’s why changes weren’t taking place.
 
But it turns out, fracking can be done in a more sustainable way. But a lot of the time it isn’t due to the high initial costs of change.
 
Here are 4 ways fracking can be done more sustainably:
 
1) Eco-pads
Eco-pads are concentrated fracking zones, which house between four to eight wells on one site. The reason? Drilling multiple holes in one area for fracking can greatly decrease a company’s footprint.
 
Exposing more than one reservoir from one spot greatly reduces the amount of transportation, money, infrastructure and labor involved in fracking. Eco-pads are currently being utilized in the Bakken region.
 
2) Water-free fracking
Considering regular fracking uses a mixture, which is 99% water and sand, water-free fracking may sound unrealistic. However GasFrac has come up with a system that uses a gel fluid containing propane.
 
So why use gel instead of water? Well the gel reduces the amount of water needed to frack. In fact only 1/8th of the regular amount of water is needed. It also eliminates the need to remove wastewater from fracking sites, which is difficult to dispose of.
 
3) Methane emission detectors
Fracking can cause methane to escape from the ground. This dangerous greenhouse gas is 34 times stronger than carbon dioxide. New US Environmental Protection Agency regulations will be enforced next year to ensure companies have procedures and equipment in place to decrease fracking pollutants.
 
This includes inspectors being equipped with infrared cameras that can detect methane leaks. The cameras cost between $80,000 – $100,000 but are worth the cost as the amount of gas in leaks prevented from escaping can be sold instead.
 
4) Combining wastewater
Duke University researchers have recently found that radioactive fracking wastewater can be mixed with acid drainage from mining to form solids. These solids can then be disposed in a hazardous waste landfill.
 
Although the solids are still hazardous according to Tad Patzek, chairman and professor of the petroleum engineering department at the University of Texas in Austin, “solid waste is safer than liquid and the amount created in this process would be manageable.”
 
Do you know of any greener ways to frack? I would love to hear from you. Tweet me @castagra.
 

0ba8618 Aisha Tejani
Aisha Tejani is a contributing writer of Castagra Products, a storage tank and wastewater coatings manufacturing company that is highly acclaimed for its sustainable coatings and cold weather coating applications. Castagra products are NSF-61 certified and are used by the world’s top water and wastewater contractors.