Academic Venture Fund - 2012

Probing the Micromechanics of Shale under Varying Fluid Compositions

Microscopic view of shale

Shale gas is a growing part of the nation's energy production. Cornell researchers aim to minimize environmental impacts of the hydraulic fracturing process by learning to predict shale's fracturing behavior more accurately. This pilot study will apply nanoscale methods developed for manmade composites to examine the fracturing behavior of shale—a natural composite—and then test alternative "fracking fluids" to determine how they interact with the rock. The research may lead to more precise control of fracturing and improved fluid treatments that reduce environmental risks.

Investigators: Teresa Jordan, James Bisogni, Alan Zehnder, Shefford Baker