Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Best of both worlds

Tim Flannery notes:
In the 1950s the Richfield Oil Corporation was pondering whether nuclear power might play a role in helping to exploit Alberta's tar sands. The company executives reasoned that if it could expode a series of two-kiloton bombs below the 30,000 square kilometre tar-sands deposit, the heat of the explosion would vitrify the sand, coating the cavity and thus creating glass., while a peculiarity of the chemical structure o the tar would cause it to liquefy. When cooled, the tar would retain its more runny consistency and so fill the cavities. Three hundred billion barrels of crude oil would be made accessible by the process, the experts claimed, with no hazard from radioactivity.

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