Tomas Diaz de la Rubia, Ph.D., has been active in the field of physics and energy administration for more than 25 years, and at present is a director of Deloitte Consulting. Most recently, Tomas Diaz de la Rubia served as panel chair and guest speaker at the recent 2014 Deloitte Energy Conference in Houston.
Joining several other energy industry leaders leaders, Dr. Díaz de la Rubia examined the impact of the ever-changing field of technology, and how major advancements could disrupt the current energy market. One of the most recent examples of this occurring is the increase of hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking,” which has enabled energy producers to capitalize on shale oil and gas deposits throughout the United States. Following the renewed interest in fracking, panelists at the 2014 Conference examined potential innovations, such as the possibility of using carbon dioxide in place of water.
Recent fracking projects have come under significant criticism for their abundant use of water. Just one well can take more than 2 million gallons, which is especially problematic, since some wells are in arid regions. Although research into the use of carbon dioxide is still in its infancy, it shows several promising advantages. In addition to eliminating wastewater, carbon dioxide has a greater affinity to shale than natural gas, enhancing the production life-cycle of particular wells. And the carbon dioxide can be recaptured and permanently sealed underground, potentially reducing carbon emissions in the process.
Carbon dioxide fracking is already in use in places like Wyoming, which has an existing pipeline network, though analysts are cautious about the costs associated with the logistics of transitioning to a carbon dioxide-based infrastructure.