Book Reviews

Oil Shales and Carbon Dioxide

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Science  16 May 1980:
Vol. 208, Issue 4445, pp. 740-741
DOI: 10.1126/science.208.4445.740


During retorting of oil shales in the western United States, carbonate minerals are calcined, releasing significant amounts of carbon dioxide. Residual organic matter in the shales may also be burned, adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. The amount of carbon dioxide produced depends on the retort process and the grade and mineralogy of the shale. Preliminary calculations suggest that retorting of oil shales from the Green River Formation and burning of the product oil could release one and one-half to five times more carbon dioxide than burning of conventional oil to obtain the same amount of usable energy. The largest carbon dioxide releases are associated with retorting processes that operate at temperatures greater than about 600°C.