Shale Gas: Geochemical and Physical Constraints on Genesis, Storage, and Producibility

Status Start Date End Date Locations
Active Aug 1, 2019 Jul 31, 2022 All Counties
Director: Maria Mastalerz
Other Researchers: Agnieszka Drobniak, LaBraun Hampton, Mikey Hannon Arndt Schimmelmann, Simon Brassell, Jeff Zaleski, Kelsey Doiron
Funding: U.S. Department of Energy - USDE - No Specific Program
Issue: Unconventional types of natural gas, such as shale gas, are increasingly valuable hydrogen-rich ‘clean’ fossil fuel because their combustion releases no toxins, produces no ash, and emits less carbon dioxide per unit of energy than combustion of coal or oil. A strengthened scientific basis is needed for developing improved exploration models that can be coupled with an effective production strategy.
Objective: This project is comprised of two tasks related to shale gas: (1) Study of porosity in shale; and (2) Generation of catalytic shale gas. Each task focuses on an individual aspect in need of basic shale research for industrial and environmental reasons. For task 1, for the next 3 years, we intend to investigate links between porosity and permeability and ultimately producibility of hydrocarbons from shale. For task 2 we will study mechanisms of catalysis in shales. So far, the mechanism of geocatalytic shale gas generation remains elusive.
Approach: The objectives of this project will be achieved through laboratory experiments and analyses and modeling. For task 1, to investigate links between porosity and permeability and ultimately producibility of hydrocarbons from shale we propose to address two issues: (a) The influence of temperature, pressure and supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) on the accessibility of pores in shales; and (b) The influence of accessible and inaccessible porosity and pore size distribution on the permeability of shales. For task 2, we will test various hypotheses of methanogenesis in organic domains where organic geomacromolecules are under strain while being adsorbed by, and in close contact to, mineral surfaces. We will also do modeling of catalytic processes involving clay minerals and organic matter
Products: The previous phases of this project resulted in more than 30 published, peer-reviewed articles, and over 50 abstracts and conference presentations by various authors. We plan to continue publishing our data in high impact journals
Benefits: This project will provide better understanding of the factors that influence geochemical and physical controls on origin, storage and producibility of shale gas.