Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Illusive Bonanza: Oil Shale in Colorado

The Illusive Bonanza: Oil Shale in Colorado: Hyping oil shale is nothing new. As geologist Walter Youngquist once wrote, “Bankers won’t invest a dime in ‘organic marlstone,’ the shale’s proper name, but ‘oil shale’ is another matter.”
In a ham-and-egg breakfast, the chicken is involved but the pig is committed. Half the world’s oil shale resources lie near Grand Junction, Colorado. With respect to oil shale, citizens in this region are committed. The durable myth of this “enormous treasure” ensures that in any energy crisis, oil shale will be proposed as a solution, and that Colorado and Utah will bear the brunt of development.
Dreams and hype aside, oil shale is the poorest of the fossil fuels, containing far less energy than crude oil, much less even than hog manure, peat moss, corn pellets, household garbage, or Cap’n Crunch.
via the author's own comment on The Oil Drum, which I'll exerpt here:
Let's try a redneck experiment.
Winter's coming, and I'm willing to pay $1,000 to the first Coloradan who decides to heat their house with oil shale. I'll deliver it in October, free of charge.
Such an experiment would teach you a lot. First, you'd learn that there's three times more energy in a pound of split pine or recycled phone books or cattle manure or Cap'n Crunch than in a pound of oil shale.
Next, you'd learn that 85 percent of oil shale is inert mineral matter. This means that on a cold winter day you'd have to shovel about 700 pounds of rocks into your oil shale furnace and remove 600 pounds of ash.
If, during the course of the winter, you burned 40 tons (about what you'd need), come spring you'd have 36 tons of hazardous waste, enough to fill three dump trucks.
I'll pay for the dump trucks, you deal with the EPA.
 Worth a read.