Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
  Oil and Gas News from OilGasDaily.Com  




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



OIL AND GAS
Electricity from shale gas versus coal
by Staff Writers
Ann Arbor MI (SPX) Oct 24, 2017


Given those concerns and the ongoing shift to shale gas, Miller and her colleagues felt it was important to place into proper context the potential human health impacts of shale gas relative to coal. In their comparative study, called a lifecycle impact assessment, the researchers used Pennsylvania as the point of origin for both shale gas and coal, since both energy sources are abundant in the state.

Despite widespread concern about potential human health impacts from hydraulic fracturing, the lifetime toxic chemical releases associated with coal-generated electricity are 10 to 100 times greater than those from electricity generated with natural gas obtained via fracking, according to a new University of Michigan study.

The study is a comparative analysis of the harmful health effects of electricity produced from shale gas and coal. It looks at the amount of toxic chemicals released into the air, soil and water during both the resource extraction and electricity generation phases of both technologies and concludes that the potential human health impacts of electricity from coal are much higher.

The findings suggest that as the U.S. energy market continues to shift from coal to natural gas, the overall "toxicity burden" of the electricity sector will decrease, said study corresponding author Shelie Miller, an environmental engineer and an associate professor at the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability's Center for Sustainable Systems.

"This analysis does not imply that concerns associated with shale gas production are unfounded, only that the overall toxic load of coal is definitely greater," Miller said. "And while the study doesn't address this directly, we should be pursuing renewables more aggressively if we really want to decrease the human toxicity burden of our energy system."

The study was published online Oct. 10 in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. The other authors are Brian Ellis of the U-M Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Lu Chen, a recent graduate of the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability.

In recent years, the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (commonly known as fracking), have helped unlock vast stores of natural gas in shale formations. Increased shale-gas production created a boom in some parts of the country but has also led to concerns over potential contamination of drinking water and possible human health impacts related to hydraulic fracturing.

Given those concerns and the ongoing shift to shale gas, Miller and her colleagues felt it was important to place into proper context the potential human health impacts of shale gas relative to coal. In their comparative study, called a lifecycle impact assessment, the researchers used Pennsylvania as the point of origin for both shale gas and coal, since both energy sources are abundant in the state.

For the coal system, the study estimates the toxicity associated with air pollutants emitted during power generation, as well as toxic chemical releases during the coal-mining process from acid-mine drainage and coal-ash impoundment. The air pollutants analyzed for the coal system included particulate matter (soot), mercury, volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides.

For the hydraulic fracturing system, the study estimated the toxicity of the fracturing fluid chemicals used to crack rock and release natural gas, as well as the wastewater associated with shale-gas extraction. The researchers also looked at air pollutants emitted during both shale-gas extraction and electricity generation.

In both systems, particulate matter released into the air from power plants during electricity generation was the dominant toxicity contributor and outweighed chemical releases that may occur during extraction. And the harmful air emissions from coal-fired power plants were much worse than those from cleaner-burning natural gas plants, Miller said.

"We looked at the total mass of emissions released per unit of electricity generated throughout the lifetime of both systems, and the overall toxic load is much greater for coal," she said. "Emissions of particulate matter pumped into the air every single day by coal-fired power plants have greater potential human health impacts than any of the other chemicals we examined."

The study by Miller and her colleagues is believed to be the first head-to-head comparison of coal and shale gas from the resource extraction phase through electricity generation. While the results provide a comparison of relative toxicity between the two systems, large uncertainties and lack of data precluded a full-blown risk assessment.

Much of the uncertainty relates to the hydraulic fracturing process. The chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluid are considered proprietary, and the magnitude and frequency of water-contamination events are not well-documented.

When faced with uncertainties about the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process, the researchers deliberately overestimated the amount of toxic chemicals that would reach the environment to ensure they weren't minimizing fracking's health impacts, Miller said.

Even in a seemingly implausible accidental-release scenario in which all of a well's hydraulic fracturing fluid and untreated wastewater were discharged directly into surface waters for the lifetime of the well, shale-gas electricity had a lower lifetime human toxicity impact, or HTI, than coal electricity, according to the study.

To calculate the health impacts of particulate matter from power plants, the researchers collected emissions data from 23 natural gas and 13 coal-fired power plants in Pennsylvania. Data from 2,900 hydraulically fractured wells in the state were used to estimate potential releases of fracturing fluid chemicals and wastewater.

Two different assessment methods were used to estimate health impacts. Various statistical tests were conducted to verify the results, suggesting 90 percent confidence in the overall finding that the HTI of shale gas is lower than the HTI of coal.

OIL AND GAS
Iraq PM arrives on Saudi visit
Riyadh (AFP) Oct 21, 2017
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi arrived in Riyadh Saturday in a visit aimed at upgrading strategic ties, amid warming relations between the Arab neighbours. The tour coincides with Saudi Energy Minister Khaled al-Faleh's high profile visit to Baghdad where he called for the strengthening of economic relations to boost oil prices. It also comes after US Secretary of State Rex Tillers ... read more

Related Links
University of Michigan
All About Oil and Gas News at OilGasDaily.com


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

OIL AND GAS
Breaking down stubborn cellulose

Separating methane and CO2 will become more efficient

Converting carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide using water, electricity

Breakthrough in direct activation of CO2 and CH4 into liquid fuels and chemicals

OIL AND GAS
SCE monopoly abuse of power prompts the necessity of off-grid inventions

Think laterally to sidestep production problems

Clean Energy Collective Starts Construction on SCE and G Community Solar Facilities

Sandia scientists find the optimal way to mop up surplus solar flux on CSP towers

OIL AND GAS
Construction to begin on $160 million Industry Leading Hybrid Renewable Energy Project

A kite that might fly

Scotland outreach to Canada yields wind energy investment

First floating wind farm starts operation in Scotland

OIL AND GAS
South Korea to push ahead with nuclear power plants

AREVA NP awarded contract for safety upgrades in seven reactors

AREVA NP installs a system allowing flexible electricity generation at Goesgen nuclear power plant

Greenpeace fireworks shine light on French nuclear safety concerns

OIL AND GAS
'Plan B': Seven ways to engineer the climate

British government unveils green spending plans

As Paris climate goals recede, geoengineering looms larger

Cheaper to invest in climate change fight than to rebuild; EPA chief rolls back US plans

OIL AND GAS
Lyft gets $1 bn from Google parent to rev up challenge to Uber

President Duterte threatens iconic Philippine 'jeepney'

Baidu to hit the road with self-driving bus

Norway seeks 'Tesla tax' on electric cars

OIL AND GAS
Nearly 700,000 Iraqis from war-torn Mosul still displaced: NGO

Cinders and desolation in Iraq's Hawija after IS

Moscow says US 'pretending' to fight IS in Iraq

Shock Iraq torture photos raise ethical dilemmas

OIL AND GAS
Iran warns Europe against new nuke deal conditions

N. Korea nuclear test site may be a 'Tired Mountain': 38 North

N. Korea sends China Communist Party faint praise

US commander must 'imagine the unimaginable' on NKorea




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement