How does it work?

 

In a very simple explanation, Fracking is the process of forcing the release of natural gasses from rock formations underground and capturing it. Using pressurised liquid called ‘fracking fluid’. This is usually just water but always accompanied by sand or what they refer to as proppants. Proppants in reference to hydraulic fracturing can mean sand, treated sand or man-made ceramics. Mixed in with the water, sand and the proppant will keep the ‘induced fracture’ open.

A well is dug down into the ground that reaches the rock formation containing the shale gas and the ‘fracking fluid’ is injected into the rocks. This creates cracks in the formation. Through these new man-made cracks, the gas trapped inside can move freely for collection.

As stated previously, the proppants keep the cracks open so all of the gas can be collected. When the cracks are suitably propped open the injection of the fluid ceases, removing any further pressure to crack the rocks open.

This is also where some issues can take place. The most significant at this stage being the loss of the liquid. If not properly controlled, 70% of the liquid can be lost, decreasing efficiency of the collection.

A controversial process that seems to be a major sore spot for the UK as it is openly opposed across the UK. Despite ardent protesters and low support, the government continue to invest and support fracking. This is why we thought showing both sides of the story would be the most appropriate way of talking about fracking. We wanted to ensure that there is no misinformation and help you understand all aspects of this technique so you can form your own opinions!

 

The good..

 

Replacing coal

One of the most beneficial advantages to fracking is that it can ultimately help reduce dependence on coal. Coal produces three times as many emissions as natural gas. It is undoubtedly the most harmful fossil fuels in the world producing harmful carbon dioxide, though we should mention that it does not produce nearly as much methane as natural gas does.

Investing in local communities

Like most industrial projects local communities will receive investment into their local economy. This can lead in some cases to investment into local charities that are focused on the environment. Generally increasing the value of local communities. Though this is not a guarantee, it has been known for energy groups to help local charities.

Safety concerns exaggerated?

The main reason people are against fracking is the environmental impact. One of the major complaints is that it contaminates water supplies. Though there have been many studies that show this is not the case. In a similar vein, the earthquake scares are generally misunderstood. They are often ‘micro earthquakes’ that do not pose any real threat or harm to the environment.

 

..And the bad

 

Impact on the environment

Fracking goes against the Paris Climate Change Agreement, wherein the world is to stop using fossil fuels. Carbon Brief produced a report to prove this, stating that ‘fracking is simply not compatible with the UK’s climate targets’.

It’s not just climate change that fracking effects, but also impacts the natural world as well. Contributing to disruption of local communities, threatening rural communities and posing a threat to local wildlife. There is also the fact that it has been linked to tremors, especially recently in the UK with Cuadrilla’s site in Lancashire reporting a third tremor measuring at 2.9 on the magnitude class. Though it should be pointed out that this level of tremor does not even score on the minor magnitude class. On the magnitude scale however, it falls between the ‘Often felt, but only causes minor damage’ category. It should also be stated that the magnitude of earthquakes have been increasing with reports from Cuadrilla and the local communities. This latest tremor did cause some residents’ homes to shake and knock books from shelves and pictures from walls.

Water contamination

The water we previously discussed supposedly contains some chemicals that can contaminate water sources near the fracking site. These carcinogenic chemicals can threaten fish and other wildlife near the site. It may also pose threats to local water supplies. This is only if the water escapes through the well.

There was a study by The British Geological Survey that claimed the groundwater near fracking sites could be contaminated. The extraction process encountering issues with leaks could lead to dangerous chemicals polluting groundwater. In England, groundwater is used to supply almost a third of of our drinking water.

The methane problem

There are varying opinions on whether natural gas is better for the environment than coal or oil. Some believe that shale gas from fracking does not produce enough methane emissions to make it as harmful as coal, while others say it is ultimately worse over a long period of time. Take a look at this interesting article by National Geographic to learn more 

Thank you for your time, we hope this article has helped clear things up a bit! 

If you have any questions, contact us! 

Are you interested in green energy?