Thursday, May 30, 2013

A good alternative to fracking?


"The Gasbuggy Nuclear Test Site is the location of a 1967 underground nuclear explosion, conducted to test the viability of using a nuclear device to aid in natural gas extraction. It was part of the Plowshare Program, the program to develop peaceful uses of nuclear weapons, and was the first use of a nuclear explosion for industrial purposes. The test was overseen by the San Francisco Operations Office of the Atomic Energy Commission, and was conducted by the Lawrence Radiation Lab (later to become the Lawrence Livermore National Lab) in conjunction with the El Paso Natural Gas Company. Called "gas stimulation," the technique has been used employing conventional explosives, and it was hoped that a larger nuclear explosion would be capable of opening up gas deposits which are not otherwise economically viable. The test called for a 29-kiloton nuclear device to be placed at the bottom of a 4,240-foot deep shaft drilled in a "tight" shale formation known to contain natural gas. To a large degree the experiment went as planned: the underground cavity produced by the explosion, 80 feet wide and 335 feet high, filled with natural gas from the fractured surrounding rock. However the gas was too radioactive to be commercially distributed by public utilities."

http://clui.org/ludb/site/gasbuggy-nuclear-test-site

4 comments:

Mark said...

Fun fact: when Plowshare was going all in on nuclear gas stimulation in the early 70s, one of the main arguments by opponents was that it wasn't necessary because hydraulic fracturing could be developed as a cheaper, cleaner alternative. There were two other stimulation shots in the US as well, RULISON and RIO BLANCO, and the Soviet Union set off about a dozen as part of their NENE program.

Also, it's quite possible I'm misremembering - I haven't yet done any serious reading on this yet - but I believe "too radioactive" actually meant "basically safe but detectable, and nobody's buying gas with any radioactivity."

High Power Rocketry said...

I wonder how much radon is in the the gas we do already use?

Mark said...

Good question. I did some Googling and found a bunch of sites claiming there's a lot, but they all seem to be from political types.

High Power Rocketry said...

Just to be safe, I will stop huffing the stove.