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Some 8,000 feet deep and 450 million years old, the Utica Shale has a lot of petroleum — crude oil, natural gas and byproducts like ethane.

Although no one really knows how much there is, oil and gas companies are flocking to eastern Ohio, home to some of the shale’s most amenable portions.....

In Ohio, 65 Utica Shale wells have been drilled so far, each requiring 5 to 6 million gallons of water, said Heidi Hetzel-Evans, a spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

But as Utica drillers analyze early results, at least one company thinks water might be unnecessary — or even a hindrance — and that using a waterless, propane-based form of fracking called LPG might be more efficient and profitable....

LPG uses a mixture of propane (and occasionally some butane) that’s pressurized to the consistency of a gel. Then, like water-based fracking, it’s injected through pipes at high pressure underground to release oil and gas by cracking open rocks using sand (or another proppant).

Unlike water, though, LPG naturally mixes with petroleum, so it returns to the surface with the oil or gas being extracted. And since LPG is electrically neutral and lacks much friction, it doesn’t dissolve any salts, heavy metals or radioactive compounds — compared to water, in which these things return to the surface and make a typically toxic mixture even more so.

Fracking, of course, is enormously controversial, mostly because of concerns of potential risks to water supplies. LPG fracking eliminates an entire wastestream — the copious amounts of toxic “flowback” water that has to be reused, treated and discharged into waterways, or disposed of in deep injection wells, which have been linked to earthquakes in Ohio......


http://www.midwestenergynews.com/2012/05/15/waterless-fracking-technique-makes-its-debut-in-ohio/
 

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It's a good idea, using the same material as a transport fluid that one will produce out of the well itself. There are a number of issues with this technology, the most important one is the safety while handling gelled propane while fracing as opposed to water. The other issue is that there is only one company that does this,(I believe) and there is not enough equipment to frac the number of wells being drilled. So as this may be a method in the future, it is not a realistic alternative right now.
 
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