In a new video about natural gas extraction via hydraulic fracturing, UMBS Director Knute Nadelhoffer explains, "[Natural] gas is justified because we get more energy yield per unit of carbon combusted with gas, than we do with either oil or coal." However, he continues, "We could produce energy with no CO2 produced...with all the emerging technologies: wind, solar, possibly biomass."
The video, produced by the College of Engineering, is featured on a multimedia web page titled Fracktopia. Both the website and the video show how hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – works and why it is controversial. As Nadelhoffer says in the video, fracking "has multiple dimensions: to make sure the environment isn't compromised, to make sure that fragmentation is minimized, to make sure that we keep toxic chemicals out of the water, to make sure that the waste water is treated."
With the refinement of horizontal drilling techniques, the fracking industry is poised to dramatically ramp up its extraction efforts in Michigan. Nadelhoffer and several other U-M Scientists featured in the video are participating in a two-year, collaborative study of fracking in Michigan coordinated by the Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute. Members of the study team come from U-M, the State of Michigan, the fracking industry and non-profit organizations. In announcing the team's creation last fall, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said, "Fracking is something that is very serious and it needs to be done the right way." Nadelhoffer's closing statement in the video echoes these sentiments: "If we're going to extract resources, whether it's natural gas, or mining – hard metals, we really need to do it right here, because we don't have a second chance."
On Tuesday, April 17, Fracktopia is sponsoring a Town Hall Meeting on the Future of Fracking at 7 p.m. in the Ross School of Business's Blau Auditorium. It is open to the public and is also being streamed live.