In recent news, fracking has been a major issue undergoing debate, but what is fracking? This article is simply going to focus on the process of fracking. Just that. We want to bring awareness to what goes on during a fracking process.
Fracking is scientifically called, hydraulic fracturing, but often referred to fracking. Fracking is a drilling technique that is used to extract oil or natural gas from underground.
What is fracking and how does it work?
There are two methods in which fracking occur: hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. Simply, the process starts with a well that is drilled 2 miles vertically or at an angle.The well is then wrapped in either steel or cement to “assure” the well does not leak into groundwater. When the well reaches the deep layer of rock where natural gas or oil exists, the well curves approximately 90 degrees and begins drilling horizontally along the rock layer.
Once the fracking well is fully drilled and wrapped, fracking fluid, known as slickwater, is pumped down into the well at tremendously high pressure, occasionally surpassing 9,000 pounds per square inch. The pressure is forceful enough to fracture the rock that creates cracks to allow oil and gas to flow through.
The slickwater consists of mostly water, but it can have a mixture of chemicals such as detergents, salts, acids, alcohols, lubricants and disinfectants that serve an engineering function. These chemicals make up at most 2 percent of the slickwater, with 98 percent of the remaining made up of solely plain water, says the U.S. Department of Energy.
Proppants (sand and ceramic particles) are also pumped into the fracking well. Proppants are added to prop open the fractures that form under pressure to ensure that gas and oil continue to flow out of the rock fractures even after pumping pressure is released.
Once the underground rock is shattered and proppants are pumped into place, trapped reservoirs of gas and oil are released and pumped back to the surface, along with millions of gallons of “flowback” liquid.
The flowback liquid is based of water and numerous contaminants that include radioactive material, heavy metals, hydrocarbons and other toxins. This wastewater is stored on the fracking site in pits, injected into deep underground wells or disposed off-site at a wastewater treatment facility.
Want to know if fracking is safe? Stay tuned for our next post where we will go into details on the effects fracking has on humanity and the environment.
Visit, www.livescience.com for more information on fracking.