When life gives you fracked water, make methane hydrate

"Burning ice". Methane, released by ...
“Burning ice”. Methane, released by heating, burns; water drips. Inset: clathrate structure (University of Göttingen, GZG. Abt. Kristallographie). Source: United States Geological Survey. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the American Chemical Society , an environmentalist’s nightmare.

Desalination of drinking water, fracking, and methane hydrates all wrapped up into one positive outcome.

Using a form of ‘ice that burns’ to make potable water from oil and gas production

In the midst of an intensifying global water crisis, scientists are reporting development of a more economical way to use one form of the “ice that burns” to turn very salty wastewater from fracking and other oil and gas production methods into water for drinking and irrigation. The study on the method, which removes more than 90 percent of the salt, appears in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.

Yongkoo Seol and Jong-Ho Cha explain that salty wastewater is a byproduct of oil and gas production, including hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. These methods use water and produce as a byproduct almost 10 barrels of salty water for every barrel of oil. That water could help people in water-stressed regions. But it can’t be desalinated economically with traditional methods. Seol and Cha knew that an alternative called “gas hydrate desalination” showed promise. A gas hydrate consists of only water and a gas such as methane, the stuff of natural gas. Thus, when hydrates form, salts and other impurities are left behind. When the hydrate breaks down, the gas and pure water are released. However, forming the gas hydrate used in desalination required costly chilling of the water to 28 degrees Fahrenheit. Seol and Cha sought to develop a less costly version of the method, which involves a variation on methane hydrates, chunks of ice retrieved from deep below the sea that burst into flame when brought to the surface.

They describe development and laboratory testing of a new type of gas hydrate desalination technique. They formed the hydrates from water and carbon dioxide with the gases cyclopentane and cyclohexane, which made the method work more efficiently. It removed more than 90 percent of the salt compared to 70 percent with the previous gas hydrate technique. And the process works at near-room temperature, reducing the need for chilling.


The authors acknowledge funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 163,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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Louis Hooffstetter
August 28, 2013 8:26 am

Wow! a process that combines natural gas (from fracked wells) plus evil CO2 (from the atmosphere) to turn fracking fluids into clean drinking water! And the natural gas is then released for use as clean energy. Perfect!
Take away Al Gore’s Nobel Prize and give it to these guys.

Les Johnson
August 28, 2013 8:28 am

Desalination of drinking water, fracking, and methane hydrates all wrapped up into one positive outcome.
And, just for an added bonus, they use CO2 to improve the desalination at room temperature.

August 28, 2013 8:35 am

Interesting piece of chemistry, but I believe they are using cyclopentane or cyclohexane instead of methane, LH. Alternatives would be to use deepwell to extract brine for the fracking fluid and return it or return the fracking brine to fresh water with something like reverse osmosis if the fresh water is in short supply. In any event, it all sounds like quite an added cost.

August 28, 2013 8:49 am

Watch this issue get hushed up, bribed off and sent down the memory hole. This can not be in the true interests of the powers that be.

Luther Wu
August 28, 2013 9:07 am

I’m waiting for the “Oh, but” people to show up. This news is just waiting to be rationalized into plausible unreality.

August 28, 2013 9:09 am

Very interesting! With a 90% desalination rate, produced water from many reservoirs would still be too salty for surface discharge (in my area of operation in OK at least). Typically the formation water I encounter is 100,000-135,000 ppm.

August 28, 2013 9:12 am

Cyclohexane (b.p. 81 C) and cyclopentane (b.p. 49 C) are both liquids at room temperature, not gases.
Looking at the paper, the hydrate is made at elevated pressure (3.1 MP = 31 bars), and cold (-4.5 C) temperature. Apparently hydrate formation becomes more efficient when there are two guest molecules, one larger and one smaller. The hydrates take a different structure depending on the guest, and with two guest molecules the hydrate structure includes two different-sized ice chambers. The two molecules in this case are CO2 and one of the cyclanes. The hydrate unit contains four CO2 molecules stacked 2 over 2, flanked on each side by a cyclane molecule.
They don’t burn the ice to get the water. The hydrate, once formed, is stable all the way to 16 C. Almost Ice IX. 🙂 So, the way it works is they make the hydrate using contaminated process water, filter the gas hydrate away from the process impurities, and then liberate the water by warming the hydrate past 16 C. The guest molecules escape and are recovered for re-use.
The remaining problem is that the recovered water is saturated in cyclopentane or cyclohexane, which makes it non-potable. Getting drinkable water requires distillation or reverse osmosis.
Still, it’s a big improvement, potentially anyway. Pilot plant studies are required to know for sure.
I had no idea that so much process water is produced by oil production, though. Reading the paper, apparently lots of ingenious ways exist for dealing with it on land. At sea, it’s apparently just discharged. Marine bacteria would have no problem dealing with the dissolved organics in discharged process water, but fish may not like the discharge area.

August 28, 2013 9:25 am

I’m confused about the statement “10 barrels of salty water for every barrel of oil”. My wife is originally from northern Pennsylvania, which has been ground zero for natural gas exploration via fracking. I see the wells and catchment ponds for drilling fluids everytime we visit her family. As I understand it, water and additives are injected into the borehole to fracture the rock and then pumped out at which point the well is connected to the gas pipeline grid. I’ve seen no physical evidence that water comes from these wells during the actually production of gas and nothing has been written about it in the anti-fracking local press either. Perhaps oil wells are done differently but at the outset it seems that the proceses would be nearly identical.

Les Johnson
August 28, 2013 9:37 am

Dave: water is almost always produced with oil and gas. The formation needs to be water wet, to produce effectively. I know some oil wells in fields with water injection, that produce 95% water, and 5% oil.This is not water from fracing, but native formation water or the injected water. It will be about 3% salt.
Most oil wells have water separation at the well site, or at the battery where a number of wells flow to.
The water is usually recycled and re-injected.

August 28, 2013 9:42 am

Please, please, please. Take it from an industry insider, and one whose Master’s Thesis was on hydraulic fracturing, it is ‘fracing’ and not ‘fracking’. If you must, use an apostrophe, thus: frac’ing.

August 28, 2013 9:47 am

An interesting approach, but quite impractical in the field. Cyclo-hexane and cyclo-pentane are a bit pricy. Cyclo-hexane runs $4.29/gal, $1500/Ton. It makes me think of using tuna and crab as bait for flounder and catfish.
Out in the field, we have copius amounts of light hydrocarbons along with the salty formation fluid. Those light HC’s are near worthless at the well head in some places and are flared. It makes more sense to desalinate with the methane you can’t send to market anyway.
Now if there was a way to employ the available light HC’s in an energy and cost efficient hydrate-desalinization process, and discharge irrigation quality water to the nearby farms, that would be a win-win for a lot of folks.

August 28, 2013 9:59 am

Apparently there is some water used to develop the wells, some is in the formation, and some is injected to coax the oil or gas out? Would someone from the industry do a quick summary?

August 28, 2013 10:03 am

Les: there are a great many reservoirs that produce zero water and most certainly do not need to be water wet to produce effectively, quite the opposite. Basic geology tells us that when production is dependent upon structure water indicates little to no oil and gas present (gas on top, then oil, then water). Nearly all old traditional fields produce little to no water, the technology to deal with large amounts of water only really became commonplace in the mid to late 90’s.
That is not to say that very large amounts of oil and gas have not been produced from water wet zones, but this is a relatively recent development.

August 28, 2013 10:05 am

Some say the world with end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if I had to perish twice
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And will suffice.
Robert Frost

August 28, 2013 10:06 am

Ten barrels of water per barrel of oil produced? If that’s what they are using then they are idiots. The actual numbers are about a hundredth of that, about 0.1 to 0.5 bbl water per bbl oil … they are also recycling more and more of the water.

August 28, 2013 10:08 am

Some water is used in the drilling process – a small amount
Some reservoirs produce water, some don’t – amount varies
In the post-drilling completion phase frac jobs use water, the amount can range from a few hundred barrels to hundreds of thousands of barrels. Water can also be used as a drive mechanism to flush hydrocarbons upwardly in a formation structure in a process used as water flood.
Very general explantion.

August 28, 2013 10:11 am

BTW I quoted the Frost poem because I like it and was reminded by the “ice that burns” mental image. Don’t read anything more into it.

August 28, 2013 10:12 am

Willis Eschenbach: I’m sorry but your numbers are incorrect. I’ve worked on profitable wells that produce over 5000 barrels of water a day for 50 barrels of oil and 500 MCF gas a day.
I may be an idiot, but my idiocy has made me lots and lots of money.

Lady Life Grows
August 28, 2013 10:24 am

Tom G(ologist) says:
August 28, 2013 at 9:42 am
Please, please, please. Take it from an industry insider, and one whose Master’s Thesis was on hydraulic fracturing, it is ‘fracing’ and not ‘fracking’. If you must, use an apostrophe, thus: frac’ing.
Thank you for your interesting info, Tom, but if it is always spelled frack outside the industry, then it rhymes with crack, not with face. The word derives from fracture, which is pronounced like crack and has no k. This tells me why industry insiders omit the k, but their version will never catch on with the general public. Eventually, the public will win and the more practical fracking spelling will appear in industry articles as well. You might be able to get away with calling and spelling it fracting.

August 28, 2013 10:36 am

@Louis Hooffstetter says:
August 28, 2013 at 8:26 am
Unfortunately All the big guy Gore’s Nobel prize was for “Peace” – whatever that is. No science involved. And that about sums it up.

Rob Potter
August 28, 2013 11:10 am

On the oil vs water arguments: There is obviously a very big difference between different wells and – in the interests of making their paper sound better – the authors used the worst case they could find.
I would be very very surprised if ALL oil was accompanied by 10x the volume of salty water (just think about the volumes involved for a moment and think about on-shore oil producing regions – is Texas really producing 10 x more water than oil in all of those nodding donkeys?), but maybe in some cases this is an accurate measure.
No, what these guys have done is develop a high temperature gas hydrate and are trying to get hold of oil company money (or, more probably, government money taken from oil companies in environmental clean-up “fees”) by a well-known route – invent a problem for your solution. De-salination is a very expensive way to get fresh water and really only needed in extreme cases so they are looking for a different role for their technology.

August 28, 2013 11:11 am

Tom G(ologist) says:
August 28, 2013 at 9:42 am

Please, please, please. Take it from an industry insider, and one whose Master’s Thesis was on hydraulic fracturing, it is ‘fracing’ and not ‘fracking’. If you must, use an apostrophe, thus: frac’ing.

Like the wind that “bloweth where it listeth”, the English language goes its own way … and that way is rarely logical. As you imply, “fracking” is a shortening of “fracturing”, which doesn’t have a “k” in it anywhere … so?
The problem is that the pronunciation of “fracing” is unclear. Is it pronounced to rhyme with “racing”? And as a result, to clarify things, people put a “k” in it.
How many people? Well, here’s the results of the GoogleFight:

As you can see, you are outvoted by about 200 to 1.
Now you have a choice about that. You can get up on your soapbox and say that industry insiders spell it differently … or you can resign yourself to the idiocy of how the language actually works, accept that that battle was lost a while ago, and choose another battle to fight.
I suggest the latter for the sake of your blood pressure, because racing, erasing, fracing, bracing, and tracing don’t actually rhyme in most folks’ lexicon.

August 28, 2013 11:15 am

I love it when two problems are combined to make a solution or two.
The use of cyclopentane (CC5) and/or cyclohexane (CC6) would be as a vehicle for the hydrate slurry. Water doesn’t dissolve in them. Methane hydrate is a solid up to 55° F, so you need a carrier to move it around. If it forms in gas pipelines it makes a plug, so methanol is added to tie up the water and keep the clathrate from forming. Methane hydrate forms naturally under pressure at temperatures below 55° whenever you mix water vapor and methane. Other gases also form hydrate clathrates (CO2, Argon, ethane, propane). Desalinating the water is a side benefit.
Put the chemical engineers to work developing a continuous process to form the solid from the gas/water mixture under pressure and collect/remove the hydrate. I would suggest starting with frothing the water under a pressured blanket of cool methane. The hydrate would settle in the water and could be collected centrifugally. The final process need not use the CC5 or CC6.

Janice Moore
August 28, 2013 11:27 am

“…salty wastewater is a by-product of oil and gas production, including hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.” (above article)
Probably an exercise in futility, but wanted to head off trolls’ screaming that the water being cleaned above was “an old man’s only drinking water!!! Poisoned! How will we survive??!!!”
@ Tom the Geologist — good for you to try to save the language from corruption. The others above are correct, though, the ‘frac’ing” cause is lost. I’ve tried to use it (per your correction) and it made ZERO impact on this site. If these careful scientists don’t care, no one will. Grit your teeth and (grrrrr) embrace “fracking.” Like Kleenex and “It was me,” it’s here to stay. Sorry about that, dear ally for truth. You sure can’t say you didn’t try.

Janice Moore
August 28, 2013 11:31 am

“Kleenex” — should be lower case “k” — spell checker didn’t get the memo (still calls them tissues, I guess)

Alan Clark, paid shill for Big Oil
August 28, 2013 12:04 pm

Tom G, I have the same complaint but have resolved to just keep the “pure” spelling for those “in the know”.
As for “In the midst of an intensifying global water crisis…” this is the big lie from which every other lie told by the enviro-nauts stems. The shear ridiculousness of the statement, on a planet which is more than 70% covered in water! Where, if there was an air-strip at the bottom of the ocean, an airplane would have to climb 25,000 feet or more just to break the surface!
What is in short supply is potable water. Not because it isn’t laying everywhere at our feet but simply because we piss-away resources on complete nonsense (carbon capture and storage (CCS) comes to mind) when de-salination plants and pipelines is all that is required to put this lie to rest forever. At a fraction of the cost of Alberta’s venture into CCS ($250 billion) we could de-salinate and pipe enough water to put Evian out of business.

Gunga Din
August 28, 2013 12:41 pm

Tom G(ologist) says:
August 28, 2013 at 9:42 am
Please, please, please. Take it from an industry insider, and one whose Master’s Thesis was on hydraulic fracturing, it is ‘fracing’ and not ‘fracking’. If you must, use an apostrophe, thus: frac’ing.

Humorous interlude.

August 28, 2013 1:35 pm

Gunga Din says:
“Humorous interlude”
I’ve got to admit, the first thing that I thought of when I read the previous posts was BSG and that it should be: fraking.
Thanks for the video.

August 28, 2013 2:11 pm

@ Tom the Geologist
So all those expletives on Battlestar Galactica were spelled, for ex., like You fracing whatchamacallit!?
Doesn’t have quite the same punch…

August 28, 2013 3:49 pm

Willis- REALLY. Stooping to a consensus argument to prove me vainglorious in my crusade to allow the industry to define its own term. Much like the words “Sync” or “Disc” which were not in the language but invented by industry, fracing is what we spell when we discuss it. As someone stated once, the overwhelming consensus of virtually all people that the world was flat never reduced its sphericity by a single jot. Neither will the mis-spelling of a term invented by an industry by outsiders make it correct by the sheer volume of misuse. But maybe I am wrong. As Joseph Goebles said: If you tell a lie often enough, people will believe it.
I suspect that the ration of the volume of water used to product produced varies greatly and depends on too many factors to make any kind of estimate realistic. In Pennsylvania, we use about 150,000 bbl (6 Million gallons) to frac each well (notice how I spelled that and you all knew that I didn’t meant FRACE as in trace). Our yield ranges from 10 to 20 MM cubic ft per day. Those wells produce at those rates for MANY months before they begin to tail off and the production curve decays. The decay rate is over quite a long period after which it reaches an asymptote and the well will produce for decades. When it is all added up the ratio is FAR less than hundreds of gallons for each gallon (cubic foot) but perhaps not as low as 0.1 to 0.5 gal per cubic foot.
Once again, in PA after we remove what percentage of the frac water flows back, we get what is called produced water, which is typically in the range of somewhere between 100 and maybe 1000 bbl/day. for a well producing 20,000,000 cf/day for 18 months, 1000 bbl per day is a ratio of 0.0021 gal/cf of gas.
Interesting thing about the word ‘frac’. For many years people in the environmental remediation industry have been involved in groundwater remediation projects which involve the stupid useless practice of pumping out contaminated groundwater withi the misguided intent to clean up an aquifer. For the large volumes of water which were (are) withdrawn, storage was needed on sites until it could be characterized for off-site disposal. To get large volumes of storage, that industry found these really neat, wheeled tanks which could be brought to a site empty, used for storage and then emptied into smaller, over-the-road trucks for off-site disposal. Those tanks came from the petroleum industry in the years before hydraulic fracturing was known by the general public (it’s been going on for 60 years now btw). And those tanks are known as ‘FRAC tanks’. Spelled that way, used that way by EPA and every state DEP and citizens group which commented on remedial actions. But now we have to live with FRACK.
You guys can rationalize the mis-spelling all you want – but if you want to come off as knowledgeable, to walk the walk and especially to talk the talk…

August 28, 2013 4:42 pm

The American Chemical Society is still promoting AGW in a mindless sort of way.
Therefore everything they do is suspect.

August 28, 2013 5:36 pm

Pretty poor article. First, flow back water is minor. It is also less saline. Produced water, the natural brine that comes up with the oil is extremely saline. People need to drop the obsession with fracking. Normally the brine is reinjected back into the formation. One question I have, if you remove the water from the brine, won’t you get a lot of salt drop out also? This salt can contain NORM, and is a problem if it does. Anyhow, if you have an injection well, produced water is not a problem. By the way, you might be able to do this method with sea water, as it is lower salinity then produced brine.

August 28, 2013 8:49 pm

Tom G(ologist) says:
August 28, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Willis- REALLY. Stooping to a consensus argument to prove me vainglorious in my crusade to allow the industry to define its own term. Much like the words “Sync” or “Disc” which were not in the language but invented by industry, fracing is what we spell when we discuss it. As someone stated once, the overwhelming consensus of virtually all people that the world was flat never reduced its sphericity by a single jot. Neither will the mis-spelling of a term invented by an industry by outsiders make it correct by the sheer volume of misuse. But maybe I am wrong. As Joseph Goebles said: If you tell a lie often enough, people will believe it.

Unlike external facts like whether the world is round or flat, the direction the English language takes is one of the few things that truly is run by consensus. It’s not a fixed thing like the shape of the earth. It’s constantly changing rules, changing spelling, adopting new words as others fall into oblivion, replacing the latest “non-PC” euphemism with a new term that is PC now but in future will be replaced …
For example, if everyone starts using the word “twerking” and agrees on its meaning and the spelling, then that’s what the word means and how it is spelled. No matter what the thwerking industry might say. Logic doesn’t even enter into it. Doesn’t matter if the thwerking advocates say it’s spelled wrong. Usage is what determines English usage and spelling, not the protest of a minority. In a way it’s the perfect democracy. And when the usage is 100-to-1 against you (as it is), the ship has already sailed.

August 28, 2013 9:05 pm

Willis Eschenbach says:
August 28, 2013 at 8:49 pm
Willis, in invoking “twerking” (spell check hates it), you went too far.
Your point is taken, but that one won’t last ? No way !!

Janice Moore
August 28, 2013 9:49 pm

Dear Tom G,
Intrepid, noble fighter for truth. I am so sorry. Perhaps, you should have a little mourning service to help you process the demise of “frac’ing”. It is (I’m not being sarcastic) a bummer that the “best” or most accurate term is not always the term that wins out in the end. If you choose to continue your crusade, more power to you. I don’t have the emotional energy to spare to fight all the battles I could fight for accuracy and truth. Be kind to yourself. Life’s short. If you are not having fun and you do not have a duty to do what you’re doing — don’t do it.
If fighting for accuracy in language is fun for you, great! Just bear in mind that no one is “facsing” anything.
Someone who cares about your happiness,

juan slayton
August 28, 2013 10:44 pm

I agree with President Jackson that it’s a poor mind that can think of but one way to spell a word.

August 29, 2013 2:39 am

Tom G(ologist) says:
August 28, 2013 at 3:49 pm
“”As someone stated once, the overwhelming consensus of virtually all people that the world was flat never reduced its sphericity by a single jot.”
Since the classical period of Greece the belief in a flat Earth was virtually non-existent in the Western world.
(just a remark)

Bloke down the pub
August 29, 2013 3:56 am

As an aside to the fracing – fracking argument, has anyone else noted that even though it is an abbreviation, designed to speed up the way it is written, it is almost always followed by the phrase ‘short for hydraulic fracturing’. Wouldn’t it stop the argument, and shorten the text, if
everyone just wrote ‘hydraulic fracturing’ to begin with? I suppose the media love the short version because of all the possibilities for double-entendres that it opens up.

Bloke down the pub
August 29, 2013 4:04 am

As an after-thought, if the industry had abbreviated hydraulic fracturing to hydrating, could we have avoided a lot of the negative publicity?

Bloke down the pub
August 29, 2013 4:09 am

That reminds me of the old question, ‘what’s the difference between a giraffe and a JCB? – A JCB has hydraulics.’

August 29, 2013 6:21 am

Tom G: I think you are correct in “frac” versus “frack”, however, you may lose on common usage. Just watch a chemist wince when you say toluLEAN, when you mean toluene. I’ve used “frac” tanks, but I believe the “frac” in this one is for “fractionation” the term for separating immiscible liquids in these tanks.
As far as water balance on a hydraulic fracturing site, I’d leave it to the folks that do that. I’m willing to bet the water treating companies are standing by to help you out.
Tadchem: CC5, CC6? cyclo-pentane, cyclo-hexane refinery jargon? I’ve never seen them expressed that way and once thought I knew something about cycloalkanes.

August 29, 2013 7:53 am

you are correct about the English language spelling and usage are arbitary and changing (although spelling changes are less frequent since Dr Johnson).
For meaning Change I give you as examples
there must be dozens if not hundreds of others.
When I was a test engineer for a Telecoms equipment manufacturing we had lots of problems with early DRAMS (particularly 1K and 4K varieties). When the 64K DRAM arrived there was a lot of discussion with non-technical management as to whether it should be known as 64K or 65K. In this particular instance the nerds won. However the public (in the UK at least) is exposed daily to pictures of banners with the word spelt fracking (as it was in Gasland), therefore it will fracking when entered in the OED.

Rod Everson
August 29, 2013 8:04 am

“Bob Greene says:
August 29, 2013 at 6:21 am
Tom G: I think you are correct in ‘frac’ versus ‘frack'”
Yes, he is. The usage “frac” is fine in English, as are both “tic” and “tick.”
Where the industry got into trouble is when they then tried to override one of the few 99%+ accuracy-rated pronunciation rules that exist, the “Rule of c,” which states:
The letter ‘c’ when followed by one of the letters ‘e,’ ‘i,’ or ‘y’ represents the /s/ sound; otherwise it represents the /k/ sound.
Thus we have: race, racing, racy where the ‘c’ represents /s/, but we also have:
cat (followed by ‘a’)
cot (followed by ‘o’)
cut (followed by ‘u’)
sick (followed by ‘k’)
account (1st ‘c’ followed by ‘c’; second ‘c’ followed by ‘o’)
sick (followed by ‘k’)
tic (followed by nothing)
which all follow the rule of c, and words like “accent” and “accident” in which the first ‘c’ is followed by another ‘c’, and the second ‘c’ is followed by one of the three letters in the rule, making their English pronunciation equivalent to aksent and aksident.
In fact, most of the spellings where you find a single letter “k” in a word are cases where using a “c” would violate the rule of c. Thus, we have words like “keep,” “kiss,” “Kyle,” “skeet,” “skip,” and “sky.” The common spelling for the /k/ sound, “ck,” is a convention used to avoid exactly the problem introduced by trying to use the word “fracing.” The “ck” marks the sound preceding it (almost always a single vowel), as the short vowel sound.
The scientists should stick with “frac” when used that way, but yield to “fracked” and “fracking” and, if necessary, to “fracky.” After all, though we “picnic,” we also go “picnicking.” Best not to panic, or start panicking, get all panicky about this. Just recognize the initial English spelling error and move on, as the rest of the world has.
Incidentally, that’s American English. The few exceptions to the rule are (ironically) the British spelling “sceptic,” the foreign football, “soccer” (which, by rule, should either be pronounced “sockser” or spelled “socker” and the Spanish spelling “Tucson” which by rule should be pronounced “Tuckson.” With “sceptic,” Americans replaced the “c” with a “k”. They just accepted the other two examples. There are others, but the rule is easily one of the most accurate (American) English rules of pronunciation. Hence, the Google survey results.
And yes, this is one of my main areas of interest: http://www.ontrackreading.com

August 29, 2013 1:48 pm

Dirk, you beat me to it. Yes, educated Westerners have known the world was round since the ancient Greeks, despite the myths about how Columbus discovered it.
A similar myth is how Enlightenment philosophers shook Europe out of the “Dark Ages.” Pure baloney, as careful historians have established in the last quarter century. The so-called Dark Ages were a time of scientific and industrial advance, where universities were established for the first time in the history of the world and modern science began.

August 29, 2013 2:44 pm

Rod Everson says:
August 29, 2013 at 8:04 am

Rod Everson is correct, and Tom’s “industry convention” is contrary to the rule.
By the way, round media are spelt ‘disc’ in the recording industry, and ‘disk’ in the computer world. The latter makes little ones easy (‘diskettes’), where ‘discette’ would be confusing.
/Mr Lynn

Janice Moore
August 29, 2013 4:18 pm

Yes, Anthropic (at 1:43pm today) re: “Pure baloney, as careful historians have established in the last quarter century.”
And, as of at least 75 years ago a careful literature scholar, C. S. Lewis of Oxford and later of Cambridge, often said, “There was no such thing as ‘The Renaissance.'” And yet, the O.H.E.L. volumes (one of which he wrote) refer over and over to “Medieval and RENAISSANCE literature,” to which there was nothing Lewis could say (except, perhaps, “Oh, hell.”).
@ Sandy in Limousin — Nice essay. #(:)) You would, I think, greatly enjoy C. S. Lewis’ lectures “Studies in Words.” He discusses several such words as those you listed above.
BTW, a question I’ve long wondered about… Why do the British pronounce Latin-based language word imports with a flattened “a” or a non-silent “t” or a British version of French (e.g., “taco” rhymes with “wacko” and “wigwam” rhymes with “wig dam” (is Don Juan still Don Joo-uhn?) and “valet” rhymes with “mallet” and “jaguar” is “jag-yoo-wahr”). In the American version of English, more of the foreign words seem to come in with the same vowels as in the original language. It is not of great importance, that is certain, but I wondered whether it was a deliberate attempt of the British to sneer at the “foreign” word and exert their propriety over the term by severely altering its pronunciation? Like many of us Americans did with that rat “Saddam” (rhyming it with “madam” just to dis him) Hussein.
Of course, there is Loss An-gel-iss …… (and tons of others — not Chico, though, lol). Hm.

August 29, 2013 7:38 pm

It seems ‘fraccing’ is the 2nd most popular spelling with 51,500 google hits.
The first 3 hits are the Queensland government, wikipedia, and an Australian oil and gas company. I have also seen fraccing used in the UK by commentators at Bishop Hill’s site.
‘Siccing’ has the same linguistic origin.

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