The goal of the oil shale imbibition research project is to improve the sustainability of the hydraulic fracturing process. Hydraulic fracturing is a process in which water is forced into the ground to split rock apart for oil extraction purposes. This process results in a large amount of water waste, so the researcher is analyzing the properties of the oil shale rock to ultimately prevent water run off. The main experiment involved is the single drop test which reveals the contact angle water makes with the oil shale surface.
Hydraulic fracturing is a process where forceful fluid splits apart shale rock containing synthetic oil for energy. Due to the porosity of the shale, this fluid can’t be reclaimed and is wasted as a result. To find a solution to this problem, the imbibition of oil shale will be studied via the single drop experiment. The single drop reveals a contact angle which provides useful information on the wetting properties of the shale. Further experiments include repeating the single drop experiment with varying compositions of oil shale, illite, and kaolin clay- two other species present in rock during hydraulic fracturing.