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Fracking Companies Find Greener Solutions

Solar-Powered Fracking Equipment

Written by Swagato Chakravorty
Posted December 11, 2012

How’s this for irony? Fracking champions are looking toward solar power to try and cut down on pollution.

Most of the hydraulic equipment currently in use rely on ‘dirty’ diesel-guzzling engines. But companies are looking for a way to clean up this already controversial process.

Halliburton (NYSE: HAL), for example, is quite heavily invested in fracking. The company has come out with a fracking machine that uses gravitational and solar power to function.

The so-called SandCastle is about two years old now, and it has already been implemented across dozens of sites within the U.S., Businessweek reports.

Big Oil has tried to clean up its act recently, smarting from sustained and harsh criticism from environmentally-conscious entities. Halliburton and three other major oil-field service providers collectively invested some $2.04 billion in 2011 to try and make their services more environmentally-friendly.

It’s a big change—32 percent—from what they were spending two years previously. Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK), General Electric (NYSE: GE), and Verenium Corp. (NASDAQ: VRNM) have also come up with “alternative” technologies for their operations.

Should these companies develop greener solutions, it will not only earn them some leniency and good publicity from eco-groups, but it will also help rein in the price of cleanup, which can reach $18 billion a year. And of course, it’s a good way to keep regulators at bay.

So far, research has focused on two main areas, according to Businessweek. One is air pollution—which Halliburton’s SandCastles try to address—and the other more serious issue is that of waste and runoff from fracking sites.

Ecologix Environmental Systems LLC manufacturers a fracking wastewater recycling technology that uses air bubbles, while Verenium is producing non-toxic enzymes that can break down ammonium persulfate, a caustic by-product of fracking.

GE, Chesapeake, and Halliburton are all working on other clean-tech products, hoping to collectively reduce the bad rap fracking tends to get.  

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