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Infographic: Turning Oil Shale Into Oil

By Joshua Hammer
Wells of up to 1 kilometer in length are drilled into the oil shale. They are heated by natural gas, raising the temperature of the rock over time to around 600 degrees Fahrenheit. The heated organic compounds in the rock then break down, forming vapors of smaller hydrocarbon molecules. The vapors move easily through the pores of the oil shale along a pressure gradient toward production wells that pull them to the surface. There, the vapors are cooled in a condenser, and then separated into oil, water, and gas components.

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[Illustraton by Bryan Christie Design

Turning Oil Shale Into Oil