The Massachusetts Institute of technology (MIT) reports the results of a joint R&D program with France’s CNRS into the molecular structure of kerogen. This has, until now, been ‘poorly understood.’ In what is modestly described as a ‘game-changing revelation,’ researchers from the ‘multi scale materials science for energy and environment’ program have discovered that Darcy’s law for fluid flow in a porous media is ‘not accurate’ for hydrocarbon flow in kerogen.
director Roland Pellenq said, ‘Flow in shale nanopores is not correctly
described by the macroscale physics of liquids and the standard
formula. Shale pores are smaller and less interconnected than expected.
Individual molecules of oil or gas no longer behave as fluids and get
trapped in place. Understanding the nanoscale structure of pore spaces
in kerogen is a true new idea, a game changer.’ Pellenq says that the
fracking process needs a rethink in the light of the new findings.
Today’s frack jobs are ‘not even touching the real treasure, which is
in the walls, in the pores of the wall.’
The new research suggests replacing today’s water-based fracks with CO2. This would force ‘out at least the lighter molecules such as methane, though perhaps not the heavier molecules of petroleum.’ Jean-NoŽl Rouzaud of France’s CNRS said, ‘This work should allow for more effective and environment-friendlier techniques of recovery of hydrocarbons.’ Today, fracking and indeed conventional exploration has been banned in France. The research was published in Nature Materials Journal.