Analytical techniques to evaluate the environmental impacts of unconventional fossil fuel extraction


Extensive water and air quality monitoring of fossil fuel extraction allows us to track the environmental impacts of these operations. However, the long-term impacts remain unclear. Furthermore, the samples are often highly complex and contain chemicals that are not typically looked for in routine analyses. Our focus is to improve routine analytical techniques for high-throughput analyses of environmental samples associated with unconventional fossil fuel development.


In hydraulic fracturing, our research has focused on hydrophobic organic compounds in groundwater near natural gas wells in Pennsylvania. We employed state of the art analytical technologies to detect trace levels of compounds related to the hydraulic fracturing process. Our work on Canadian tar sands has focused on the organic chemicals emitted to the atmosphere during the refinement process at various temperatures. A common link between the two aspects of our research was the complex nature of the samples we collected. Going forward, our focus will be to improve the way we collect and process our samples to reduce the time, energy, and cost of routine environmental analyses.


Co-location of industrial operations and residential communities is necessary for domestic fuel production. Our ultimate goal is to promote safe practices that will reduce the impact on human and environmental health by providing the necessary means to collect and analyze high-quality data.