University of Pittsburgh professor Eric Beckman and colleague Bob Enick have been intent on solving a decades-old mystery – how to increase the viscosity of liquid CO2 so it can better extract oil from its hiding spots inside the pores of underground sandstone. Thanks to a $1.3 million grant from the National Energy Technology Laboratory, the researchers are pursuing a promising lead.

In the U.S., each gallon of crude oil we produce requires, on average, anywhere from two to 5.5 gallons of water according to a study from Argonne National Library (pdf). It is a much more water-intensive process than hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which attracts far more attention.

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