The United States consumes 20.7 million barrels per day (b/d) of the 84 million barrels per day of oil consumed worldwide. The Energy Information Administration projects that by 2025, the U.S. will consume another 5.4 million b/d, while China and India will increase the global demand by another 7.8 million b/d.
The Task Force on Strategic Unconventional Fuels, established by the Secretary of Energy under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 presented an integrated program plan to coordinate and accelerate the commercial development of unconventional fuels within the United States, including oil shale, tar (oil) sands, heavy oil, enhanced oil recovery and coal-derived liquid fuels. In partnership with industry and government, WRI is developing processes for multiple unconventional fuels to help meet the country’s energy needs.
Our oil shale characterization laboratory offers commercial services (including Fischer Assay) to developers for improving the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of extracting oil from sedimentary rock. WRI is pioneering the biogenic methane enhancement process to recover additional energy from low-grade unconventional fuel sources, such as oil shale. In conjunction, we have developed a thermal process for releasing mercury in oil shale that reduces the environmental impact of this unconventional fuel.
Among other fuel sources, WRI is scaling up a project to demonstrate commercial viability of a unique hydrogen production and separation process. Concurrently, a breadth of bioenergy research is underway at our facilities leading to innovations in biomass gasification and microbial fuel cell (MFC) technologies. In further support of unconventional fuels, WRI scientists are on the forefront of advancing coal gasification processes and have pioneered a method for the thermochemical production of liquid fuels.