Shale is quite a dynamic substance once you think about it. Remember learning about sedimentary rocks in high school? Shale is a type of sedimentary rock that’s fine-grained, and is commonly called a “mudstone.” This is because it’s formed out of the compaction of silt and clay–or in other words, what we would normally call mud.
Despite the nickname, shale is quite mighty. One of the cool things about this sedimentary rock is that it’s laminated–which basically means that it’s made up of many thin layers. Because of this, cracking shale remains a relatively easy task to accomplish.
Now we’ve probably all heard the word “shale” tossed around in the news when talking about energy. Surprisingly, energy from shale can be extracted in a variety of ways. Cracking shale, as mentioned previously, is one of the key ways to extracting something called oil shale.
Oil shale are literal pieces of solid rock with oil embedded inside. When heated, these pieces of rocks release the oil from within, which is called shale oil. That’s right, you just switch the words around.
Shale oil literally flows like water and is a substitute for conventional crude oil. It can be mined from pockets in the earth, or extracted from rock as mentioned previously.
Lastly, there’s something called shale gas, which is natural gas extracted via the process of fracking in shale rock formations underground.
With three different varieties of energy associated with it, shale remains a viable option when considering substitutes for crude oil.