Pennsylvania's shale gas wastewater hides energy treasure

Pennsylvania's shale gas wastewater hides energy treasure

For nearly 20 years, Pennsylvania has been exploiting what could be the world's largest shale gas deposit. And in the wastewater produced by associated hydraulic fracturing, researchers have just discovered a veritable treasure. Enough lithium to meet nearly half the demand in the United States.

Under Pennsylvania lies an important region DepositDeposit the solid gas. Perhaps the most important in the world. The so-called Marcellus deposits have been exploited for nearly 20 years. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh (USA) have just made an interesting discovery on this topic. More precisely, in wastewater generated from Hydraulic fracturingHydraulic fracturing. In fact, it contains enough lithium to supply up to 40% of the United States' needs in this area. They say in the newspaper Scientific reports.

Abundance of lithium in fracking water

Remember that lithium is one of the main components of our batteries. Whether it is from our mobile phones or our own ones Electric carsElectric cars. Hence it is considered a crucial element by US Geological Survey. However, currently, the lithium the United States needs is extracted primarily from ponds BrineBrine In Chile. Before the batteries are combined, they must pass through China to be processed there.

Thanks to regulatory analyzes conducted by the operators of the Marcellus deposits, researchers were able to determine the amount of lithium present in their deposits. loselose. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection requires reporting of the presence of lithium in water from hydraulic fracturing. But this is not the case in neighboring countries. Thus, researchers hope that wastewater from activities exploiting the Marcellus deposits in West Virginia, for example, could also hide a treasure trove of lithium.

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And perhaps more generally, wastewater from other farms in the country. While this water is a growing problem in the United States, there may be a way to add value to its treatment. In the laboratory, researchers have already succeeded in extracting lithium from water with an efficiency of more than 90%. But before entering this field, it will be necessary to understand the environmental impact of extracting lithium from wastewater and carry out a pilot installation to develop these technologies.

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