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Title: Shale gas and non-aqueous fracturing fluids: Opportunities and challenges for supercritical CO₂

Hydraulic fracturing of shale formations in the United States has led to a domestic energy boom. Currently, water is the only fracturing fluid regularly used in commercial shale oil and gas production. Industry and researchers are interested in non-aqueous working fluids due to their potential to increase production, reduce water requirements, and to minimize environmental impacts. Using a combination of new experimental and modeling data at multiple scales, we analyze the benefits and drawbacks of using CO₂ as a working fluid for shale gas production. We theorize and outline potential advantages of CO₂ including enhanced fracturing and fracture propagation, reduction of flow-blocking mechanisms, increased desorption of methane adsorbed in organic-rich parts of the shale, and a reduction or elimination of the deep re-injection of flow-back water that has been linked to induced seismicity and other environmental concerns. We also examine likely disadvantages including costs and safety issues associated with handling large volumes of supercritical CO₂. The advantages could have a significant impact over time leading to substantially increased gas production. In addition, if CO₂ proves to be an effective fracturing fluid, then shale gas formations could become a major utilization option for carbon sequestration.
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  1. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 0306-2619; PII: S0306261915003074
Grant/Contract Number:
AC52-06NA25396; 20140002DR; 20150397DR
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Applied Energy
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 147; Journal Issue: C; Journal ID: ISSN 0306-2619
Research Org:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Fossil Energy (FE)
Country of Publication:
United States
32 ENERGY CONSERVATION, CONSUMPTION, AND UTILIZATION; 29 ENERGY PLANNING, POLICY, AND ECONOMY; 54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 20 FOSSIL-FUELED POWER PLANTS; 58 GEOSCIENCES; 03 NATURAL GAS; 04 OIL SHALES AND TAR SANDS; shale gas; hydraulic fracturing; supercritical CO₂; non-aqueous fracturing fluids; waterless fracturing fluids
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1247591