Second lab to open in Monongalia County

Will study the impact of shale industry on environment

MORGANTOWN — A second laboratory studying productivity and the environmental impact of the shale energy industry will be located in western Monongalia County, West Virginia University said.

The goals of the Marcellus Shale Energy and Environmental Lab are to improve productivity and reduce the environmental footprint of the natural gas industry.

Researchers from WVU, undergraduate and graduate students will use the advanced models developed for the project to address complex technical, environmental and social issues surrounding unconventional energy development. The researchers will use best practices in environmentally responsible shale development as they undertake subsurface scientific investigations.

“We are continuing to pursue research, development, demonstration, deployment and education while building on the lessons and best practices we learned over the past three years at the Morgantown Industrial Park site,” said Timothy Carr, a WVU Marshall Miller professor of geology, principal investigator and lab director. “We now want to optimize the same results by using more cost-efficient tools. We are eager to demonstrate this capability in order to promote best practices across the Marcellus.”

A consortium of WVU, the National Energy Technology Laboratory, Northeast Natural Energy and The Ohio State University will focus on lower-cost technologies. If successful, the technologies have the potential for widespread use in the field, which supplies 30 percent of U.S. gas production.

The collaboration allows for minimizing environmental impacts while maximizing economic benefits in West Virginia and across the tri-state region, Brian Anderson, director of the WVU Energy Institute, said.

“By forging creative partnerships like (the laboratory,) we are embracing the opportunities to build on our strengths and expand our impact in an evolving energy landscape,” Anderson said.

Researchers and departments participating are Civil and Environmental Engineering, the Energy Institute, Environmental Microbiology, Geology and Geography, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering, the West Virginia Water Research Institute, The West Virginia GIS Technical Center.