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Environ Sci Technol. 2008 Oct 1;42(19):7489-95.

Converting oil shale to liquid fuels: energy inputs and greenhouse gas emissions of the Shell in situ conversion process.

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Energy and Resources Group, 310 Barrows Hall, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, California 94720-3050, USA.


Oil shale is a sedimentary rock that contains kerogen, a fossil organic material. Kerogen can be heated to produce oil and gas (retorted). This has traditionally been a CO2-intensive process. In this paper, the Shell in situ conversion process (ICP), which is a novel method of retorting oil shale in place, is analyzed. The ICP utilizes electricity to heat the underground shale over a period of 2 years. Hydrocarbons are produced using conventional oil production techniques, leaving shale oil coke within the formation. The energy inputs and outputs from the ICP, as applied to oil shales of the Green River formation, are modeled. Using these energy inputs, the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the ICP are calculated and are compared to emissions from conventional petroleum. Energy outputs (as refined liquid fuel) are 1.2-1.6 times greater than the total primary energy inputs to the process. In the absence of capturing CO2 generated from electricity produced to fuel the process, well-to-pump GHG emissions are in the range of 30.6-37.1 grams of carbon equivalent per megajoule of liquid fuel produced. These full-fuel-cycle emissions are 21%-47% larger than those from conventionally produced petroleum-based fuels.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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