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Sustainability, Volume 3, Issue 11 (November 2011), Pages 2050-2322

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Research

Open AccessArticle Energy Return on Investment for Norwegian Oil and Gas from 1991 to 2008
Sustainability 2011, 3(11), 2050-2070; doi:10.3390/su3112050
Received: 28 September 2010 / Revised: 15 February 2011 / Accepted: 15 March 2011 / Published: 26 October 2011
Cited by 16 | PDF Full-text (242 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Norwegian oil and gas fields are relatively new and of high quality, which has led, during recent decades, to very high profitability both financially and in terms of energy production. One useful measure for profitability is Energy Return on Investment, EROI. Our analysis
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Norwegian oil and gas fields are relatively new and of high quality, which has led, during recent decades, to very high profitability both financially and in terms of energy production. One useful measure for profitability is Energy Return on Investment, EROI. Our analysis shows that EROI for Norwegian petroleum production ranged from 44:1 in the early 1990s to a maximum of 59:1 in 1996, to about 40:1 in the latter half of the last decade. To compare globally, only very few, if any, resources show such favorable EROI values as those found in the Norwegian oil and gas sector. However, the declining trend in recent years is most likely due to ageing of the fields whereas varying drilling intensity might have a smaller impact on the net energy gain of the fields. We expect the EROI of Norwegian oil and gas production to deteriorate further as the fields become older. More energy-intensive production techniques will gain in importance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Studies in EROI (Energy Return on Investment))
Open AccessArticle Looking for a Silver Lining: The Possible Positives of Declining Energy Return on Investment (EROI)
Sustainability 2011, 3(11), 2071-2079; doi:10.3390/su3112071
Received: 3 February 2011 / Revised: 28 April 2011 / Accepted: 13 June 2011 / Published: 26 October 2011
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (177 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Declining energy return on investment (EROI) of a society’s available energy sources can lead to both crisis and opportunity for positive social change. The implications of declining EROI for human wellbeing are complex and open to interpretation. There are many reasons why frugal
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Declining energy return on investment (EROI) of a society’s available energy sources can lead to both crisis and opportunity for positive social change. The implications of declining EROI for human wellbeing are complex and open to interpretation. There are many reasons why frugal living and an energy diet could be beneficial. A measure of wellbeing or welfare gained per unit of energy expended (WROEI) is proposed. A threshold is hypothesized for the relation between energy consumption and wellbeing. The paper offers a biophysical-based social science explanation for both the negative and positive possible implications of declining EROI. Two sets of future scenarios based on environmental and economic trends are described. Six types of social change activism are considered essential if the positives of declining EROI are to balance or exceed the negatives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Studies in EROI (Energy Return on Investment))
Open AccessArticle The EROI of Conventional Canadian Natural Gas Production
Sustainability 2011, 3(11), 2080-2104; doi:10.3390/su3112080
Received: 5 September 2011 / Revised: 14 October 2011 / Accepted: 1 November 2011 / Published: 3 November 2011
Cited by 13 | PDF Full-text (565 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Canada was the world’s third largest natural gas producer in 2008, with 98% of its gas being produced by conventional, tight gas, and coal bed methane wells in Western Canada. Natural gas production in Western Canada peaked in 2001 and remained nearly flat
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Canada was the world’s third largest natural gas producer in 2008, with 98% of its gas being produced by conventional, tight gas, and coal bed methane wells in Western Canada. Natural gas production in Western Canada peaked in 2001 and remained nearly flat until 2006 despite more than quadrupling the drilling rate. Canada seems to be one of many counter examples to the idea that oil and gas production can rise with sufficient investment. This study calculated the Energy Return on Energy Invested and Net Energy of conventional natural gas and oil production in Western Canada by a variety of methods to explore the energy dynamics of the peaking process. All these methods show a downward trend in EROI during the last decade. Natural gas EROI fell from 38:1 in 1993 to 15:1 at the peak of drilling in 2005. The drilling intensity for natural gas was so high that net energy delivered to society peaked in 2000–2002, while production did not peak until 2006. The industry consumed all the extra energy it delivered to maintain the high drilling effort. The inability of a region to increase net energy may be the best definition of peak production. This increase in energy consumption reduces the total energy provided to society and acts as a contracting pressure on the overall economy as the industry consumes greater quantities of labor, steel, concrete and fuel. It appears that energy production from conventional oil and gas in Western Canada has peaked and entered permanent decline. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Studies in EROI (Energy Return on Investment))
Open AccessArticle Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROI) for the Electrical Heating of Methane Hydrate Reservoirs
Sustainability 2011, 3(11), 2105-2114; doi:10.3390/su3112105
Received: 10 June 2011 / Revised: 1 August 2011 / Accepted: 5 August 2011 / Published: 7 November 2011
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (332 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
We model the low frequency electrical heating of submarine methane hydrate deposits located at depths between 1000 and 1500 m, and determine the energy return on energy invested (EROI) for this process. By means of the enthalpy method, we calculate the time-dependent heating
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We model the low frequency electrical heating of submarine methane hydrate deposits located at depths between 1000 and 1500 m, and determine the energy return on energy invested (EROI) for this process. By means of the enthalpy method, we calculate the time-dependent heating of these deposits under applied electrical power supplied to a cylindrical heater located at the center of the reservoir and at variable depths. The conversion of the produced water to steam is avoided by limiting the heater temperature. We calculate the volume of methane hydrate that will melt and the energy equivalent of the gas thus generated. The partial energy efficiency of this heating process is obtained as the ratio of the gas equivalent energy to the applied electrical energy. We obtain EROI values in the range of 4 to 5, depending on the location of the heater. If the methane gas is used to generate the electrical energy required in the heating (in processes with a 33% efficiency), the effective EROI of the process falls in the range of 4/3 to 5/3. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Studies in EROI (Energy Return on Investment))
Open AccessArticle Toward a Heat Recovery Chimney
Sustainability 2011, 3(11), 2115-2128; doi:10.3390/su3112115
Received: 19 August 2011 / Revised: 19 October 2011 / Accepted: 26 October 2011 / Published: 7 November 2011
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (456 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The worldwide population increase and subsequent surge in energy demand leads electricity producers to increase supply in an attempt to generate larger profit margins. However, with Global Climate Change becoming a greater focus in engineering, it is critical for energy to be converted
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The worldwide population increase and subsequent surge in energy demand leads electricity producers to increase supply in an attempt to generate larger profit margins. However, with Global Climate Change becoming a greater focus in engineering, it is critical for energy to be converted in as environmentally benign a way as possible. There are different sustainable methods to meet the energy demand. However, the focus of this research is in the area of Waste Heat Recovery. The waste heat stored in the exiting condenser cooling water is delivered to the air flow through a water-air cross flow heat exchanger. A converging thermal chimney structure is then applied to increase the velocity of the airflow. The accelerated air can be used to turn on the turbine-generator installed on the top the thermal chimney so that electricity can be generated. This system is effective in generating electricity from otherwise wasted heat. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Manufacturing)
Open AccessArticle Predicting the Psychological Response of the American People to Oil Depletion and Declining Energy Return on Investment (EROI)
Sustainability 2011, 3(11), 2129-2156; doi:10.3390/su3112129
Received: 29 June 2011 / Revised: 1 August 2011 / Accepted: 5 August 2011 / Published: 7 November 2011
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (416 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Oil has played a crucial role in the United States’ continued but increasingly tenuous economic prosperity. The continued availability of cheap, high energy return on investment (EROI) oil, however, is increasingly in doubt. If cheap oil is increasingly constrained, how might that impact
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Oil has played a crucial role in the United States’ continued but increasingly tenuous economic prosperity. The continued availability of cheap, high energy return on investment (EROI) oil, however, is increasingly in doubt. If cheap oil is increasingly constrained, how might that impact the American psychological sense of personal and national well-being? We employ general systems theory and certain key paradigms from psychology and sociology to predict the possible societal response to global peak oil and the declining EROI of whatever oil is produced. Based on these frameworks, the following three defense mechanisms seem likely to be employed by individuals and groups within society if and when confronted with stresses associated with declining oil availability. These are: denial of one’s passive helpless state, desire to establish a scapegoat, and arousal of affiliative needs and increased subgrouping. A group’s “survival” is a function of its unified sense of direction and the stability of necessary interdependencies and linkages. We suggest that the ability of the U.S. society, taken as a whole, to adapt to the stresses derived from the declining EROI of oil will increase during periods of moderate stress, and then decline after reaching its maximum ability to cope with stress. The integrity of interdependencies and linkages—power, communication, affect, and goals—must be preserved for continued social unity. Americans will need to acknowledge the reality of biophysical constraints if they are to adapt to the coming energy crisis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Studies in EROI (Energy Return on Investment))
Open AccessArticle The Unsustainable Trend of Natural Hazard Losses in the United States
Sustainability 2011, 3(11), 2157-2181; doi:10.3390/su3112157
Received: 10 October 2011 / Revised: 26 October 2011 / Accepted: 28 October 2011 / Published: 14 November 2011
Cited by 30 | PDF Full-text (2812 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Correction | Supplementary Files
Abstract
In the United States, direct losses from natural hazards are on the rise with hurricanes, flooding, and severe storms contributing about three quarters of the total damages. While losses from severe storms have been stable over the past fifty years, hurricane and flood
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In the United States, direct losses from natural hazards are on the rise with hurricanes, flooding, and severe storms contributing about three quarters of the total damages. While losses from severe storms have been stable over the past fifty years, hurricane and flood losses have tripled. Per capita losses are also increasing showing that impacts outpace population growth with high per capita losses occurring largely in the Southeast and Midwest. If the loss escalation of the past two decades continues into the future, then direct losses of $300 to $400 billion within a single decade are possible. In order to reverse this trend, sustainable development, vulnerability reduction, and hazard mitigation must become priorities and current loss reduction efforts need to be evaluated and re-assessed in terms of their effectiveness. These conclusions are drawn from the analysis of spatial and temporal trends in direct losses from natural hazards using SHELDUSTM data from 1960 through 2009. Loss data are adjusted for inflation, population, and wealth to capture both trends in total losses and per capita losses. The loss data are then compared to disaster-related federal government and private insurance expenditures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Disaster Risk Reduction and Sustainable Development)
Open AccessArticle Testing the Environmental Kuznets Curve Hypothesis for Biodiversity Risk in the US: A Spatial Econometric Approach
Sustainability 2011, 3(11), 2182-2199; doi:10.3390/su3112182
Received: 30 September 2011 / Revised: 7 November 2011 / Accepted: 8 November 2011 / Published: 16 November 2011
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (262 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This study investigates whether the environmental Kuznets curve (EKC) relationship is supported for a measure of biodiversity risk and economic development across the United States (US). Using state-level data for all 48 contiguous states, biodiversity risk is measured using a Modified Index (MODEX).
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This study investigates whether the environmental Kuznets curve (EKC) relationship is supported for a measure of biodiversity risk and economic development across the United States (US). Using state-level data for all 48 contiguous states, biodiversity risk is measured using a Modified Index (MODEX). This index is an adaptation of a comprehensive National Biodiversity Risk Assessment Index. The MODEX differs from other measures in that it is takes into account the impact of human activities and conservation measures. The econometric approach includes corrections for spatial autocorrelation effects, which are present in the data. Modeling estimation results do not support the EKC hypothesis for biodiversity risk in the US. This finding is robust over ordinary least squares, spatial error, and spatial lag models, where the latter is shown to be the preferred model. Results from the spatial lag regression show that a 1% increase in human population density is associated with about a 0.19% increase in biodiversity risk. Spatial dependence in this case study explains 30% of the variation, as risk in one state spills over into adjoining states. From a policy perspective, this latter result supports the need for coordinated efforts at state and federal levels to address the problem of biodiversity loss. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental and Resource Economics)
Open AccessArticle Novel Method to Assess the Risk of Dam Failure
Sustainability 2011, 3(11), 2200-2216; doi:10.3390/su3112200
Received: 11 November 2011 / Accepted: 14 November 2011 / Published: 16 November 2011
PDF Full-text (1275 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A new flexible, rapid and affordable risk assessment procedure was developed and verified for dams based on case studies in Scotland (UK) and the region of Baden (Germany). A database of six different sustainable flood retention basin (SFRB) types with varying flood control
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A new flexible, rapid and affordable risk assessment procedure was developed and verified for dams based on case studies in Scotland (UK) and the region of Baden (Germany). A database of six different sustainable flood retention basin (SFRB) types with varying flood control potential has been developed. In Scotland, there are a relatively high number of current and former large drinking water reservoirs which could contribute to flood management control. In comparison, purpose-built and relatively small SFRB, which are predominantly used for flood control, dominate the landscape in Baden. Moreover, 13 out of 149 SFRB have recently been upgraded, and 11 new SFRB have been built since 2006. Both the estimated hazard and risk are small in comparison to those found in the flood infrastructure in Scotland. The study assesses a rapid screening tool developed to estimate the Dam Condition and the corresponding Dam Failure Hazard and Dam Failure Risk. Most SFRB in Baden have a relatively poor Dam Condition, high Dam Failure Hazard but low Dam Failure Risk compared to those in Scotland. Findings show that Baden is more advanced in flood defence management as well as adaptation to climate change.

Deutscher Titel: Neue Methode zur Beurteilung des Risikos eines Dammbruches
Zusammenfassung: Eine neue, flexible, schnelle und preisgünstige Methode zur Risokobeurteilung von Dämmen wurde entwickelt und getestet, die auf Fallbeispielen in Schottland (Vereinigtes Königreich) und der Region Baden (Deutschland) basiert. Eine Datenbank von sechs verschiedenen Typen nachhaltiger Hochwasserrückhaltebecken (NHRB) mit unterschiedlichem Hochwasserrückhaltevermögen wurde entwickelt. Eine relativ hohe Anzahl von gegenwärtigen und ehemaligen großen Trinkwassertalsperren, die zur Hochwasserschutzkontolle verwandt werden könnten, befinden sich in Schottland. Zweckmäßig gebaute und relativ kleine NHRB, die hauptsächlich für den Hochwasserschutz verwendet werden, dominieren hingegen die Landschaft in Baden. Darüber hinaus wurden 13 von 149 NHRB kürzlich renoviert und seit 2006 wurden 11 neue NHRB gebaut. Sowohl die geschätzte Gefahr als auch das Risiko sind im Vergleich zu den Parametern, die für die Hochwasserschutzinfrastruktur in Schottland gefunden worden sind, klein. Die Studie untersucht ein zeitsparendes Instrument zur Beurteilung des Dammzustandes, der Dammbruchgefahr und des Dammbruchrisikos. Die meisten NHRB in Baden haben relativ geringe Werte bezüglich des Dammzustandes, hohe Werte für Dammbruchgefahr und niedrige Werte bezüglich des Dammbruchrisikos im Vergleich zu NHRB in Schottland. Die Ergebnisse zeigen, dass Baden im Hochwasserschutz vorne liegt und daher dem Klimawechsel besser angepasst ist. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Flood Risk Management)
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Open AccessArticle Workspace Representation and Optimization of a Novel Parallel Mechanism with Three-Degrees-of-Freedom
Sustainability 2011, 3(11), 2217-2228; doi:10.3390/su3112217
Received: 22 August 2011 / Revised: 26 October 2011 / Accepted: 9 November 2011 / Published: 17 November 2011
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (2278 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The development of a new parallel mechanism based on simulation driven design is a rapid approach to discover the unique features or advantages of a conceptual model. In this research, one novel parallel mechanism which can generate three degrees-of-freedom translations is proposed. The
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The development of a new parallel mechanism based on simulation driven design is a rapid approach to discover the unique features or advantages of a conceptual model. In this research, one novel parallel mechanism which can generate three degrees-of-freedom translations is proposed. The kinematic model and Jacobian matrix is derived. The workspace generation and mapping is investigated based on simplified boundary searching method. The particle swarm algorithm is applied to search for the optimal volume of workspace. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Manufacturing)
Open AccessArticle Valuing Ecosystem Services with Fishery Rents: A Lumped-Parameter Approach to Hypoxia in the Neuse River Estuary
Sustainability 2011, 3(11), 2229-2267; doi:10.3390/su3112229
Received: 24 July 2011 / Revised: 24 September 2011 / Accepted: 8 November 2011 / Published: 17 November 2011
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (394 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Valuing ecosystem services with microeconomic underpinnings presents challenges because these services typically constitute nonmarket values and contribute to human welfare indirectly through a series of ecological pathways that are dynamic, nonlinear, and difficult to quantify and link to appropriate economic spatial and temporal
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Valuing ecosystem services with microeconomic underpinnings presents challenges because these services typically constitute nonmarket values and contribute to human welfare indirectly through a series of ecological pathways that are dynamic, nonlinear, and difficult to quantify and link to appropriate economic spatial and temporal scales. This paper develops and demonstrates a method to value a portion of ecosystem services when a commercial fishery is dependent on the quality of estuarine habitat. Using a lumped-parameter, dynamic open access bioeconomic model that is spatially explicit and includes predator-prey interactions, this paper quantifies part of the value of improved ecosystem function in the Neuse River Estuary when nutrient pollution is reduced. Specifically, it traces the effects of nitrogen loading on the North Carolina commercial blue crab fishery by modeling the response of primary production and the subsequent impact on hypoxia (low dissolved oxygen). Hypoxia, in turn, affects blue crabs and their preferred prey. The discounted present value fishery rent increase from a 30% reduction in nitrogen loadings in the Neuse is $2.56 million, though this welfare estimate is fairly sensitive to some parameter values. Surprisingly, this number is not sensitive to initial conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental and Resource Economics)
Open AccessArticle Life Cycle Costing in Sustainability Assessment—A Case Study of Remanufactured Alternators
Sustainability 2011, 3(11), 2268-2288; doi:10.3390/su3112268
Received: 19 October 2011 / Revised: 8 November 2011 / Accepted: 9 November 2011 / Published: 18 November 2011
Cited by 25 | PDF Full-text (327 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Sustainability is on the international agenda, and is a driver for industry in international competition. Sustainability encompasses the three pillars: environment, society and economy. To prevent shifting of burden, the whole life cycle needs to be taken into account. For the environmental dimension
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Sustainability is on the international agenda, and is a driver for industry in international competition. Sustainability encompasses the three pillars: environment, society and economy. To prevent shifting of burden, the whole life cycle needs to be taken into account. For the environmental dimension of sustainability, life cycle assessment (LCA) has been practiced for a while and is a standardized method. A life cycle approach for the social and economic pillars of sustainability needs to be further developed. This paper investigates the application of life cycle costing (LCC) as part of a wider sustainability assessment where also social life cycle assessment (SLCA) and LCA are combined. LCA-type LCC is applied on a case study of remanufactured alternators. Remanufacturing of automobile parts is a fast growing important business with large potential for cost and resource savings. Three design alternatives for the alternator and three locations for the remanufacturing plant are evaluated. The remanufacturer perspective and the user perspective are investigated. The results for the LCA-type LCC show that the largest cost for the remanufacturer is the new parts replacing old warn parts. However, the user cost, and therein especially, cost for fuel used for the alternator’s power production dominates and should be the focus for further improvement. In conducting the case study, it was revealed that the connection between the LCA-type LCC results and the economic dimension of sustainability needs to be further investigated and defined. For this purpose, areas of protection for life cycle sustainability assessment and LCA-type LCC in particular need further development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment)
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Open AccessArticle Climate Responsive Design and the Milam Residence
Sustainability 2011, 3(11), 2289-2306; doi:10.3390/su3112289
Received: 29 September 2011 / Accepted: 9 November 2011 / Published: 21 November 2011
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1743 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Energy conservation and efficiency is an essential area of focus in contemporary building design. The perception that the designers of buildings during the Modernist period of architecture ignored these principles is a false one. The present study, an examination of Paul Rudolph’s Milam
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Energy conservation and efficiency is an essential area of focus in contemporary building design. The perception that the designers of buildings during the Modernist period of architecture ignored these principles is a false one. The present study, an examination of Paul Rudolph’s Milam Residence, a masterpiece of American residential architecture, is part of a larger project endeavoring to create a knowledge base of the environmental performance of iconic modernist homes. A critical examination of the Milam House allows insight into specific design characteristics that impact energy efficiency and conservation. Located in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, the Milam Residence was constructed in 1962. It was the last of a series of Florida residences designed by Rudolph, Chairman of the Department of Architecture at Yale University (1958–1965). The structure’s form is strongly related to its location on a subtropical beachfront. This paper presents a detailed analysis of the building’s solar responsiveness. Specifically, we examine design strategies such as orientation and sunscreening and their effect on daylighting, shading, and heat gain. The analysis is based on parametric energy modeling studies using Autodesk’s Ecotect, an environmental analysis tool that allows simulation of building performance. While the initial target of the program was early design, the program allows the input of complex geometries and detailed programming of zones, materials, schedules, etc. The program's excellent analyses of desired parameters are augmented by visualizations that make it especially valuable in communicating results. Our findings suggest that the building, as built and situated on the site, does take advantage of daylighting and solar shading and does so in both expected and unexpected ways. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Building)
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Open AccessArticle Energy Return on Investment (EROI) of Oil Shale
Sustainability 2011, 3(11), 2307-2322; doi:10.3390/su3112307
Received: 6 April 2011 / Revised: 4 July 2011 / Accepted: 5 August 2011 / Published: 22 November 2011
Cited by 25 | PDF Full-text (444 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The two methods of processing synthetic crude from organic marlstone in demonstration or small-scale commercial status in the U.S. are in situ extraction and surface retorting. The considerable uncertainty surrounding the technological characterization, resource characterization, and choice of the system boundary for oil
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The two methods of processing synthetic crude from organic marlstone in demonstration or small-scale commercial status in the U.S. are in situ extraction and surface retorting. The considerable uncertainty surrounding the technological characterization, resource characterization, and choice of the system boundary for oil shale operations indicate that oil shale is only a minor net energy producer if one includes internal energy (energy in the shale that is used during the process) as an energy cost. The energy return on investment (EROI) for either of these methods is roughly 1.5:1 for the final fuel product. The inclusions or omission of internal energy is a critical question. If only external energy (energy diverted from the economy to produce the fuel) is considered, EROI appears to be much higher. In comparison, fuels produced from conventional petroleum show overall EROI of approximately 4.5:1. “At the wellhead” EROI is approximately 2:1 for shale oil (again, considering internal energy) and 20:1 for petroleum. The low EROI for oil shale leads to a significant release of greenhouse gases. The large quantities of energy needed to process oil shale, combined with the thermochemistry of the retorting process, produce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. Oil shale unambiguously emits more greenhouse gases than conventional liquid fuels from crude oil feedstocks by a factor of 1.2 to 1.75. Much of the discussion regarding the EROI for oil shale should be regarded as preliminary or speculative due to the very small number of operating facilities that can be assessed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Studies in EROI (Energy Return on Investment))

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