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GE to spend on environmentally friendly energy research

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US manufacturing giant General Electric plans to spend big on environmentally friendly energy research, such as fracking technologies and wind turbines.

Reuters reports that the company said it will spend an extra $US10 billion ($A11.17 billion) by 2020 on its "ecoimagination" program.

The company said that, to date, ecoimagination has generated more than $US160 billion in revenue. At the same time, it has reduced GE's greenhouse gas emissions and freshwater use.

As AAP reports, the program began in 2005 with a broad focus on sustainability and environmental issues. This goal remains, but the latest commitment means more funds will be spent on energy related projects.

The company will undertake two new projects related to the natural gas sector. The first project will focus on fracking, the use of pressurised liquids to create fissures in rocks to release gas and oil.

 GE and Norwegian oil company Statoil will examine the possible large scale use of carbon dioxide for fracking. This is currently a high cost option, but it could reduce the large amounts of water needed for fracking.

According to Mark Little, GE's chief technology officer and head of global research, the research aims to find a way to collect CO2 at the wellhead, recycle it, use it to frack again, then collect the CO2 and repeat the process.

"Ideally, we'd have a virtuous cycle going on," he said.

In the second project, GE and Canadian company Ferus are looking at capturing natural gas from new oil and gas wells in remote areas. Currently there is a lack of infrastructure to economically capture and transport it.

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