In this day and age ever more inventive ways to access the Earth’s natural resources are being devised. Shale gas, a type of natural gas, is found deep beneath the Earth’s surface but how do we unlock it from its subterranean prison? Well, we have the technology to extract and harness it as a fuel in a process known as hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’.
How is fracking done?
As you can see in the image below, fracking is a huge operation that involves mining deep down below the Earth’s surface. High pressure water is blasted at the rock to crack it and release the gas. The water is accompanied by sand, which is injected along with the water to help collect it. Horizontal fracking is more effective than vertical fracking as more of the valuable resource can be accessed.
What equipment is used?
The deepest shale gas can be up to 2,100m below ground. While it’s not quite the Earth’s core, specialised equipment is still required. The fracking drill is a complex machine that first punches through the rock before bringing the gas back to the surface. The four steps in which it works can be seen below:
For more information about science and technology, visit our website now. If you have a tablet or smartphone, you can also download the latest digital version onto your iOS or Android device. To make sure you never miss an issue of How It Works magazine, subscribe today!
You may also like: