On February 13, 2013, the Professional Engineers in Construction (PEC) Interest Group of the New York State Society of Professional Engineers (NYSSPE) hosted a very successful event on the development of gas from shale using fracking in New York State. The event was held at McLaren Engineering in West Nyack, New York; there was also an option to attend the event via webinar. There were almost 100 engineers that attended the event including both on and off site.
The Marcellus shale formation encompasses the region of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. Fracking refers to the procedure by which rocks below the ground are opened and widened by injecting chemicals and liquids at high pressure. The larger fissures allow more oil or gas to flow out of the formation and into the wellbore from where it can be extracted. This process also impacts the earth’s surface and its surrounding environs because of the pad sites set up for drilling.
The speaker for the evening was Anthony R. Ingraffea, PhD, P.E., Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering at Cornell University. Dr. Ingraffea is an expert in the field of gas fracking and his research concentrates on computer simulation and physical testing of complex fracturing processes. He and his students performed pioneering research in the use of interactive computer graphics in computational mechanics. He has received numerous awards for outstanding teaching at Cornell University and has twice won the National Research Council/U.S. National Committee for Rock Mechanics Award for Research in Rock Mechanics. He was named Co-Editor-in-Chief of Engineering Fracture Mechanics in 2005, received the ASTM Irwin Award for meritorious contributions to the practice of fracture mechanics in 2006, and was named a Fellow of the International Congress on Fracture in 2009. In 2011, TIME Magazine named him one of its “People Who Mattered.”
The presentation illustrated and compared existing and/or planned fracking projects in New York, Pennsylvania and the vicinity. A detail explanation and associated sketches of the fracking process was provided as was statistical and monitoring data of fracking projects in New York and Pennsylvania. Potential opportunities to provide engineering services and inspections were identified by presenting fracking equipment issues that require safety monitoring and site planning challenges that require engineering design and environmental assessments.
Dr. Ingraffea also explained the connections that solid and fluid mechanics of rock fracture have with the technologies of hydraulic fracture and demonstrated how these “connections are fundamental drivers of the overall spatial intensity, environmental impacts, and economics of the development of this non-renewable energy resource.”
The event was such a huge success and the topic so interesting, that Dr. Ingraffea has agreed to present a similar but updated seminar on fracking at the NYSSPE annual conference in Lake Placid on June 6th and 7th of this year. Please contact the NYSSPE for conference details and registration information.