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Title: Observations of the release of non-methane hydrocarbons from fractured shale.
Authors: Sommariva, Roberto
Blake, Robert S.
Cuss, Robert J.
Cordell, Rebecca L.
Harrington, Jon F.
White, Iain R.
Monks, Paul S.
First Published: 30-Jun-2014
Publisher: American Chemical Society
Citation: Environmental Science and Technology, 2014, 48 (15), pp. 8891-8896
Abstract: The organic content of shale has become of commercial interest as a source of hydrocarbons, owing to the development of hydraulic fracturing ("fracking"). While the main focus is on the extraction of methane, shale also contains significant amounts of non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHCs). We describe the first real-time observations of the release of NMHCs from a fractured shale. Samples from the Bowland-Hodder formation (England) were analyzed under different conditions using mass spectrometry, with the objective of understanding the dynamic process of gas release upon fracturing of the shale. A wide range of NMHCs (alkanes, cycloalkanes, aromatics, and bicyclic hydrocarbons) are released at parts per million or parts per billion level with temperature- and humidity-dependent release rates, which can be rationalized in terms of the physicochemical characteristics of different hydrocarbon classes. Our results indicate that higher energy inputs (i.e., temperatures) significantly increase the amount of NMHCs released from shale, while humidity tends to suppress it; additionally, a large fraction of the gas is released within the first hour after the shale has been fractured. These findings suggest that other hydrocarbons of commercial interest may be extracted from shale and open the possibility to optimize the "fracking" process, improving gas yields and reducing environmental impacts.
DOI Link: 10.1021/es502508w
ISSN: 0013-936X
eISSN: 1520-5851
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © 2014, American Chemical Society. Deposited with reference to the publisher’s open access archiving policy.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, College of Science and Engineering

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