Our Markets for Unconventional Hydrocarbons | Baseload clean energy | Environmental Remediation

Our Markets: Capture the Energy of the Unconventional.


The Energy Market

Increasing energy demand and declining oil production will necessitate adding 65 million barrels of new daily oil production capacity by 2020. Meeting this challenge, nearly equivalent to replicating the entire current world oil infrastructure, will require new production from unconventional oil resources. Unconventional oil comes in a non-liquid form that is much more difficult to extract due to being in formations such as oil shale and oil sands.

Geothermic techniques like steam and fire flooding, electrical resistance heaters and down-hole burners have been generally successful in establishing and confirming the scientific proposition that heat does in fact produce oil from unconventional resources. However, the economics and environmental impacts of these past applications have generally not supported the concept as a viable business model—until now.

Inseparable Benefits

Independent Energy Partners’ geothermic fuel cell system is a transformational technology that is dramatically changing the way unconventional hydrocarbon energy resources can be accessed with economic efficiency and little to no environmental harm. Geothermic fuel cells produce an abundance of clean ‘green’ electricity during the oil and gas extraction process that can be used for onsite power or sent back to the electric grid as baseload power.

Compelling Economics

The contrast between IEP’s GFC and previous geothermic approaches to unconventional oil production is clear: the Net Energy Ratio (NER), comparing the energy output with energy input(s), of the GFC application is superior to other approaches being pursued for unconventional oil recovery. By way of example, GFCs are expected to achieve a net energy ratio of approximately 22 (22 units of energy produced per unit used. This compares with the in-situ electrical resistance heater application currently being investigated by Shell with a stated NER of approximately 3.5.

The compelling economics resulting from such high thermal efficiencies enables the Geothermic Fuel Cell approach to offer profitable production of unconventional oil recovery under most imaginable scenarios for world oil prices. IEP estimates the gross capital and operating costs for a Geothermic Fuel Cell installation of less than US$30 per barrel for shale oil production when offset by revenues associated with the sale of surplus gases and electricity.

IEP’s patented Geothermic Fuel Cell technology uniquely addresses the economic, technical and environmental challenges to make recovery of oil from oil shale and other hydrocarbon resources possible. Specifically, IEP’s technology is designed to:

  • Increase dramatically the net energy efficiency of unconventional oil recovery, by reducing energy input costs essentially to zero.
  • Produce, as a by-product of the recovery process, large amounts of “green” electricity and surplus amounts of natural gases.
  • Reduce carbon foot print and environmental impacts of both unconventional oil recovery and electricity production.
  • Open to profitable development vast hydrocarbon resources that are otherwise not economically, technically or environmentally viable with present techniques.

Environmental Remediation Market

In-situ treatment of contaminated soils and aquifers is anticipated to be a significant market for geothermic fuel cells. There are approximately 21,000 Brownfield sites in 210 cities. Brownfields are abandoned industrial sites with real or perceived environmental contamination that could be redeveloped if properly decontaminated. EPA estimates each dollar of Federal money put into Brownfield remediation attracts $2.87 of private capital.
Additionally, there are approximately 40,000 sites listed under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Contamination and Liability Act (commonly called CERCLA or the Superfund Law). Approximately 1,300 of those sites are listed as Superfund sites across the United States meaning they receive priority attention and more urgent clean-up mandates due to the severity of hazardous waste affecting environmental and human health. The national average cost for cleaning up a Superfund site is between $25 and $30 million. Agreement on how to best remediate sites has long been at issue..

Most remediation is accomplished through in-situ pyrolysis and oxidation. The volatiles that do leave the formation are then eliminated by high temperature oxidation on the surface. Heating such formations in the traditional manner can be prohibitively expensive. Geothermic fuel cells make high-grade heat energy available and accomplish the neutralizing of toxins underground. That eliminates any further atmospheric damage. This will dramatically lower the cost of applying heat to contaminated formations, and correspondingly open up many new opportunities to clean up polluted sites.