Have you heard that the US has 100 years supply of natural gas in the ground? Accessing this untapped resource requires a process called Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking). You can read all about fracking at Wiki, but the bottom line is by using this process, we are injecting all kinds of nasty chemicals into the ground and contamination is unavoidable. I’m sure the companies do their best (as cheaply as possible) to minimize the environmental impact, but you know there is a problem when your tap water catches fire. There have also been many reports of earthquakes in previously stable areas that may have been caused by fracking. Is natural gas worth the environmental cost and are there any viable alternatives to fracking?
Alternative to Fracking
It turns out there is. Hypersolar is a small startup that is developing a nanotechnology solution to produce hydrogen and natural gas from the combination of sunlight, water, and CO2. The key piece of this technology is the ability to use waste water instead of purified water. Can you imagine a factory that takes in sewer waste water and turns that into energy? Instead of screwing up the environment, the Hypersolar energy factory will help clean it up. This factory also does not need electricity to run because it is relying on photosynthesis. Imagine a large field of solar panel array in Death Valley with a natural gas pipe leading away from it. That’s what this factory would look like. A press release earlier this year stated that the initial testing of wastewater from a paper mill proved to be a success so it seems the technology is feasible.
However, this technology is still in development and hasn’t been tested on a large scale or for a long period. It will most likely be much more expensive than fracking to begin with because the infrastructure is not there to support this technology yet. I’m sure it will take millions in investment dollars to nurture this technology and bring it to market. My prediction is the company will have to look outside the US because we have so much “cheap” natural gas trapped in the shale. China and other countries that have an increasing need for energy might be a good place to look for investors.
How much do you think a technology like this is worth? Facebook is going to be worth over 100 billion dollars. Personally, I think an energy solution like this is worth much more than something frivolous like Facebook, but that’s just me. Should they take this to Shark Tank?
Disclosure: This is not a recommendation to invest in Hypersolar. I have a few shares because a friend is involved in this project. I invested in the company pre IPO at 10 cents per share. After they went public, I sold about half my shares at 14 cents/share. At this time, the stock is worth 3 cents. Overall, the investment is in the red, but I’m comfortable enough to let the rest of the money ride. It’s not a large amount of money. This kind of investment is very risky and doesn’t fit my current dividend investing philosophy, but I think of it as supporting the environment. I just want to share an alternative to fracking, especially since some of Mrs. RB40’s family members recently inherited some land and are considering negotiating with a natural gas exploration company.