DCO scientists Alberto Striolo and Adrian Jones of University College London (UCL), UK, have received major funding (3M Euro) from the European Union to lead a consortium on the environmental assessment of shale gas. The consortium, named ShaleXenvironmenT, will examine the potential environmental impacts of exploiting economically important deposits of hydrocarbons in shale formations in Europe.
The consortium will bring together several well-respected research groups from Europe, as well as expertise from countries where shale development is already underway, including the USA. The success of the project depends heavily upon cross-disciplinary collaborations, such as those fostered across the Deep Carbon Observatory, including those represented by the Deep Energy Community.
The primary goals of ShaleXenvironmenT are to understand the fundamental geology, physics, and chemistry that operate in deep shale formations. Their studies will include the latest analytical and visualization techniques combined with modeling of fluid-rock interactions in fractures and pore networks to predict how dissolved and adsorbed gases and fluids behave during transport. The consortium will also address the potential impacts of hydrocarbon production from shale on the local environment, which may vary in different European countries. Through a carefully coordinated research effort, the consortium will ultimately report on best practices to inform governments on the potential exploitation of this source of fuel in a sustainable and responsible manner, in the context of promoting a low-carbon energy future for Europe.
The proposed research will promote technological innovation in several areas, from precise measurements at nanoscale and geomechanical testing of rock under high-pressure and temperature conditions, to new ways of reproducing fracturing conditions in the laboratory and applying engineering solutions through modeling at different scales. The ShaleXenvironmenT consortium will operate an active public information service, and will ensure that as much data as possible are made publicly accessible, and will be launched officially in May 2015 at UCL.
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