Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Getting to Oil Shales, Oil Sands, Heavy Oils, More

Extracting the energy from deposits of shale oil, oil sands, and heavy oil can be expensive. More than half of the oil in a conventional oil well is never recovered, due to expense. Various ingenious ways have been developed to get at that oil, but here is a new one that might get the biggest chunk of that energy out: seed the "exhausted" wells with micro-organisms that convert oil to natural gas.
The OU researchers found that they can use their organisms to convert hydrocarbons in oil reservoirs to natural gas. "Because two-thirds of U.S. oil is still in place, we can use these organisms to convert residual hydrocarbons into natural gas and create a new source of domestic energy. The concept of anaerobic metabolism is an innovative process and the OU initiative is the only one of its kind in the United States at the present time. We are also experimenting with shales and other unconventional reservoirs." _Bioenergy
Micro-organisms can also convert coal, oil shale, and oil sands to natural gas. That is extremely important for where the deposits are difficult to get to by conventional mining methods.

Natural gas can be converted to liquid fuels, to plastics, or to any other organic materials. Or the gas can be used to produce electricity, to drive transportation vehicles, or to cook your lunch.

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