Center for Energy, University of Pittsburgh
positioning our region for the future.
Unconventional Gas Resources
This area is primarily concerned with the safe and optimized procurement of natural gas from unconventional resources such as the Marcellus Shale. It includes exploration, well drilling and completion, water management, and gas extraction.
Pitt researchers are developing techniques for curtailing the possible environmental and health hazards associated with tapping the massive natural gas reserves lying beneath Pennyslvania and surrounding states. Roughly 70% of Pennsylvania sits atop the Marcellus shale formation, which experts estimate contains up to 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas with about $500 billion worth of recoverable gas. Pitt researchers are finding better ways to manage the wastewater generated by the extraction process. Difficult to treat, the wastewater usually languishes in reservoirs or the environment. The Pitt approach calls for a new method that would allow the water to be safely reused in gas wells that would contain extraction costs, limit the byproducts flowing into the environment, and reduce the strain on freshwater sources currently tapped during extraction. Furthermore, the researchers seek to tackle the problem of acid mine drainage - the environmentally damaging water flowing from old mines - by using it as a sanitizer and supplemental water source.