On November 15th, 2011 I attended “Today’s Engineering Challenges – Tomorrow’s Solutions” at Argonne National Laboratory. The technical conference was organized by the IEEE Chicago Sectionand there were many other technical talks of interest. The one that caught my eye was entitled “Massive Wind Energy Storage” from Pyrophase, Inc. It was not really energy storage in the true sense. It was using wind energy to power radiofrequency heaters in the ground to liberate shale oil. The concept was that you got energy from the oil in the process. But, it was an interesting lecture in that I learned something about oil and I liked their idea of RF heating. One of the other methods that is typically used to get shale oil is called fracking. I recently came across an article about the dangers of fracking and immediately thought of the RF heating method which may be less destructive. I think research needs to be done on both methods but the RF heating method seems to waste less water at least.
The article talking about some of the dangers of fracking is here.