EDITOR: | January 9th, 2013

Graphene to the rescue in gas production

| January 09, 2013 | No Comments
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Graphene-MembranesThe results of new research into microscopic graphene oxide, by researchers at Rice University, Houston, and researchers at Lomonosov Moscow State University in Russia, published this week in the Royal Society of Chemistry,  journal Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, came out under the summary: “Graphene oxide far surpasses other materials commonly used to remove radioactive toxins from water.” The research was immediately linked to the nuclear power industry and the nuclear calamity that took place at the reactors at Fukishima following the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

I’m sure in time this new research will play its part in helping remediate the Fukushima disaster and any other nuclear spills that might occur, but it is in oil and natural gas production, I think this new development will make its biggest impact, particularly in the fastest grow sector of hydraulic fracturing commonly called “fracking.” Followed by the rare earth element sector. The large surface area of graphene oxide makes for very fast adsorption and separation of nuclear toxins from water.

According to an article in the New York Times, radioactive fracking waste water from oil and natural gas shale, has been routinely mishandled by drillers, and waste removers, often unaware of the danger to the environment and to downstream public drinking water supply. To some extent the high cost associated with shipping radioactive waste water to appropriate repository sites is also a factor in improper disposal.

From the NY Times recent expose:

Times reporter Ian Urbina culled his account from thousands of internal Environmental Protection Agency EPA documents leaked to the paper, together with similar material the Times obtained from state regulators and drillers.

The most frightening takeaway: Natural gas companies are dumping radioactive wastewater from fracking into rivers and streams that serve as the main drinking water supply for millions of people — and “dangers to the environment and health” arising from this practice are “greater than previously understood.

“The documents show that EPA scientists are alarmed over research showing that fracking wastewater contains high concentrations of radioactive components — information that hasnt been previously disclosed publicly. In many instance, Urbina reports, the wastewater is transported to “sewage plants not designed to treat it” — and from there, its “then discharged into rivers that supply drinking water.

In early November, 2012, Grassroots Environmental Education, an environmental protection organization in New York state, where extensive fracking is proposed in the Marcellus Shale, published a report recently  exposing major radioactive impacts of hydraulic fracturing. The Marcellus Shale region covers much of upstate New York . The report, states that there is  radioactive material in the shale—including Radium-226 with a half-life of 1,600 years.

From last November’s report:

As for “various disposal methods…contemplated” by the agency “for the thousands of tons of radioactive waste expected to be produced by fracking,” Wood said that “none…adequately protect New Yorkers from eventual exposure to this radioactive material. Spread it on the ground and it will become airborne with dust or wash off into surface waters; dilute it before discharge into rivers and it will raise radiation levels in those rivers for everyone downstream; bury it underground and it will eventually find its way into someone’s drinking water. No matter how hard you try, you can’t put the radioactive genie back into the bottle.”

Thanks to the researchers at Rice and Lomonosov Moscow State University, we just might have found a way to put the “radioactive genie back into the bottle.” With fracking just starting to come to Europe including the UK, you can pretty well bet a whole lot of follow up and money is headed towards graphene oxide research, by the oil and gas industry. Something also likely to make a big impact in the rare earth elements sector to the likes of Molycorp and Lynas.

Another tiny miracle: Graphene oxide soaks up radioactive waste
SUMMARY: Graphene oxide far surpasses other materials commonly used to remove radioactive toxins from water, according to new research at Rice University and Lomonosov Moscow State University.
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