Adam Brandt and Hiren Mulchandani say an answer could be a self-fueled method that generates electricity, as well as the heat needed to produce that electricity from shale.
Their report in the American Chemical Society's journal Energy & Fuels on "electricity production with in situ carbon capture" describes how the process could generate large amounts of electricity without releasing into the atmosphere carbon dioxide from burning the shale.
That carbon would be captured and stored underground as part of the EPICC production process, they said.
Almost 3 trillion barrels of oil are trapped in the world's deposits of oil-shale, a dark-colored rock laden with petroleum-like material, and the United States has, by far, the world's largest deposits in parts of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.
Concerns over the large amounts of carbon dioxide greenhouse gas released with current methods for extracting oil from shale have limited potential use of those deposits, the researchers said.