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May 09, 2006



I heard a guy from Shell talk about the prospects of shale oil at a PO conference in Washington in Oct. 2005.

He explained their strategy was to get only the good stuff (high hydrogen content hydrocarbons) out of the ground.

To that and, they would employ electrical heaters to heat the shale and accelerate conversion into oil, most likely with a surrounding freeze wall to avoid contamination of ground water.

But get this: One unit of electrical energy yields 3.5 units of oil energy equivalent!

Compare that to the average power conversion efficiency in US (around or below 35%) and you arrive at an EROEI of 1.23 (energy out divided by energy in). Not much by my standards.

Shale oil is only interesting because of the high economical value of liquid hydrocarbons. Maybe if the electricity came from wind power (heating of the ground is ideally suited for renewable energy, both wind and solar) I could get on board.

But either way, the whole thing is a CO2 nightmare! Let's hope it never gets of the ground.



Agreed Thomas. Let's hope it never gets going.

Electrical plasma drilling can convert coal, tar sands, or shale right in place. Leaving the toxic mess created underground.

But why not just use the renewable electric power in battery electric plugin vehicles instead of liquid fuel at 14% efficiency in internal combustion dinosaur technology that is devestating global climate?


If there is method of recovering shale oil that will be economically viable in the long term, I suspect that it will be biotechnology-based.


Because not all energy supplies are equally useful, and transportation fuels carry a premium, EROEI is a bit of a red herring.

Suppose I use the electricity I could have used to extract hydrocarbons from shales, and instead use it to charge a battery. Clearly, charging a battery has an EROEI of less than one, but I have yet to hear the argument that because of this, electric cars are a bad idea: we are willing to turn more energy into less energy if in the process the energy becomes more useful.


Re: Plasma drilling.

This has come up a few times; what is it? Is there a news article or blog post on plasma? Is there really a way to economically extract coal without destroying the environment?

Harvey D.

One gallon of fossil liquid fuel to move one small lady (or one larger He-Man) 10 miles in her/his Hummer (or equivalent 4 x 4 or pick-up) is a major part of the problem.

Let's use much more efficient lighter vehicles to transport one or two persons 100 miles with the same gallon and fuel consumption could be reduced by up to 10X and imports reduced to almost zero.

Producing more oil will just make matter worse and intensify our addiction to unwaranted huge vehicles.



Here is something on plasma. I read about actual projects in Alberta.



There's a good example.


If the technology is economically feasible, it will happen. It doesn't matter if some folks like it or not.


A good way to reduce costs in general would be to make panels east ro install and connect. So easy that even a home owner could do it. This is a cost/design challenge as important as the other parts of the device.

If it were as easy as installing metal roofing and wiring was all plugin and no special tools or lifting equipment were need, that could be just as effective as mass production in reducing cost.

And if home owners could do it, so could many more contractors, increasing competition. Solar installation is a rare, specialized skill right now that demands a premium price.

At 10 suns this design would really get high efficiency, and the waste heat could be used for heating hot water, home heating/cooling, and even cooking.


This process is different from the electric heaters, It appears that they are using radio frequency induction like that used in an induction steel furance. They also mention use of some sort of solvents in the process, It will be interesting to see how the two processes work together. More details would be welcome.

Castor Oil

While it is true that we do not appear to have the best possible tech for extracting shale oil, let's admit it, it is a huge resource out there ( and not just for the US), and it is worth spending a lot more time and investment to figure out if there are better methods of extracting it

Castor Oil Online


If you have looked into solar energy as a method for heating your home, panels are usually the first things that come up.

There are, however, other unique methods.

The Solar Heating Aspect You Have Never Heard of Before

The power of the sun is immense. The energy in one day of sunlight is more than the world needs. The problem, of course,

is how does one harness this power. Solar panels represent the obvious solution, but they have their downside. First,

they can be expensive depending upon your energy needs. Second, they do not exactly blend in with the rest of your home.

Passive solar heating represents a panel free method of harnessing the inherent energy found in the sun for heating

purposes. If you come out from a store and open the door of your car in the summer, you understand the concept of passive

solar heating. A wide variety of material absorbs sunlight and radiates the energy back into the air in the form of heat.

Passive solar heating for a home works the same way as the process which overheats your car in the parking lot.

ray short

Let's all make some money and say earth last money first. George Washington Hayduke :-)

Paul Mueller

"Why not take shells insitu process to heat kerogen as first step.

Then need to focus on need for energy input.
1. possibility of coal fired plant. huge plant to fire up and wastefully convert to electricity and back to heat again.
2. Or solar/wind input that at today's efficiencies, are really not cost productive.
3. Build a large nuclear plant an fire up a heat pile. this waould add a lot of uncertainty vs a vis community response but could liberale keragen over time, assuming that theinsitu process works.
4. My favorite is geothermal. as it stands, utah, western colorado and much of nevada have moderate to high temeperature geotrmal resources which could be utiized to generate angery (both for direct heat applications and energy).
5. What about fresh water. It is possible to pump massive amounst of sea water from california and then utilize geothermal to desalinize. all of the technologies seem to be in place. It is really money. coordination and selling to the public to get this thing up and running.

old geezer

Re: more energy:

Or we could try to use what we have more efficiently. More efficient insulation, better mass transit, some zoning.

Just a thought.

Old geezer

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