Alabama institute to research fracking water treatment

Alabama-based Southern Research Institute is to develop, and demonstrate the performance of technologies that will advance shale‑gas hydraulic‑fracturing water treatment in order to produce National Pollution Discharge Elimination System quality water.

The project, being undertaken by Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America, is being funded by the US Department of Energy’s Ultra-Deepwater & Unconventional Natural Gas & Other Petroleum Resources R&D Program established through the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

The two-year project will develop advanced technologies that address issues related to processes and methods for handling and disposal of large volumes of hydraulic fracturing flow-back water, as well as water produced during the longer term production phase.

The program will optimize four technologies – two for hydraulic fracturing water treatment and two for the treatment and disposal of residues (high solid slurry and membrane concentrate) from hydraulic fracturing water treatment.

The hydraulic fracturing water treatment technologies are:

· Magnetic ballast clarification for removal of total suspended solids (TSS), metals, and naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORMs)
· Vortex-generating and nanofiltration membranes for removal of TSS and/or total dissolved solids.

The residue treatment/disposal technologies are

· Hydrogel adsorbent for metals, NORMs, trace element removal
· Precipitation, solidification and stabilization.

Several combinations of the technologies can be envisioned and will be explored as part of this research project.

“If successful in reducing the economic and environmental issues associated with shale gas production, this technology could have a major impact on energy security and sustainability in the US,” said Dr Robert Dahlin, principle investigator and director of Southern Research Institute’s Power Systems & Environmental Research Center in Birmingham, Alabama.


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