While many opponents of fossil fuel based energy use would rather the energy industry focused on renewable sources and developing clean technologies, there is an inevitable cross-over between the sectors. As some of the bigger energy firms, including BP and Shell, have invested heavily in renewable technology, news has emerged that some clean technology firms are utilising their innovations to help extract oil and gas.
OriginOil, an LA-based company that was originally formed to develop technology that helped produce algae biofuels, has started to use its designs to make fracking more efficient.
The firm recently announced its Clean-Frac system, which it says helps provides a more efficient and less environmentally damaging form of fracking. It hopes the technology will be commercially available toward the end of the year.
Many industry experts were presented with demonstrations of the technology in April, and the response was particularly enthusiastic. Dr Gerald Bailey, OriginOil’s, oil and gas industry specialist and a former President of Exxon, told reporters: “The response by the operators was overwhelmingly positive. The discussion was all about how Clean-Frac enables the recycling of frac flowback or produced water, resulting in significant cost savings and environmental benefits. With OriginOil’s technology, operators will be able to significantly reduce the amount of fresh water purchased for the fracking process.”
Speaking to the Quartz website, CEO Riggs Eckelberry spoke about why they were refocusing their technology: “The reason we have put a lot of focus on oil and gas is that it’s a big industry – aglae is a lot more small scale.”
He added: “In west Texas, water trucking costs are adding 14 cents a gallon to the cost of a barrel of oil. You can clean up the water with our process and reuse it for two to three cents a gallon.”