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FAQ #1: I’ve read that EGS uses water to stimulate cracks in underground rock. Is this the same as the fracking that has been getting so much negative press lately?

March 12, 2012

Answer: No. Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, is a method for extracting oil and natural gas in which water and chemicals are injected at high pressures, up to 10,000 psi at the surface, into an oil or gas well. The water pressure causes the rocks to fracture or crack open, and then propping agents, carried by gels, are injected to keep the hydrofracture open so that oil and gas can be collected and piped to the surface. Some of the chemical additives used in fracking and the recovered hydrocarbons can be toxic.

The Newberry EGS Demonstration Project is based on the concept of hydroshearing, not hydrofracturing.

Hydroshearing occurs when friction is reduced on natural rock fractures by increased water pressure, which allows the fracture walls to slip past each other slightly. Hydroshearing occurs at pressures much lower than those needed to break, or frack, the rock. At Newberry we expect surface pressures less than 1,600 psi to initiate hydroshearing.

Further, hydroshearing does not require gels or proppants, because the small, hydrosheared fractures will remain slightly open, less than a tenth of an inch, due to the irregularities on the fracture walls. We will add small amounts of non-toxic tracers and non-toxic diverter materials to the injected water (See FAQ #2), all of which have been reviewed and approved by regulatory agencies.

Lastly, we will not be producing fossil fuels, but hot water and steam heated by the hot rock under Newberry Volcano, a renewable energy source.

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Next FAQ: What chemicals will be injected into the ground? 

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  1. FAQ #2: What chemicals will be injected into the ground? « Newberry Geothermal EGS Demonstration
  2. Clarifications to recent headlines « Newberry Geothermal EGS Demonstration
  3. Lessons learned from fracking might help geothermal industry | Think GeoEnergy - Geothermal Energy News

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