MD+VC succeeds at produced-water disposal site

A new desalination technique of membrane distillation (MD) combined with vapour compression (VC) has been pronounced a success in an effort to reduce produced water disposal costs at a Texas disposal well.

Developers of the technique GE Power & Water and memsys® clearwater Pte Ltd are to discuss its development and use at the Water & Energy 2013 conference in Houston, Texas, on 25 September 2013.

The new system, which has been continuously operating for over 200 hours, is used to concentrate produced water from the hydraulic fracturing process. The joint project demonstrated that MD + VC can handle the high-salinity produced waters associated with unconventional gas exploration and production.

The field test has yielded positive results, which include:

· 100% process uptime without any noticeable decline in performance or need for cleaning
· Stable performance with brine concentrations near saturation
· Lower energy consumption compared to conventional technology
· High distillate quality.

With the project complete, the companies plan to continue to demonstrate this technology in other geographies and applications, as well as scaling up the process.

“As the cost of brine concentration comes down it will enable more sustainable treatment options compared to trucking and deep well disposal,” said Bill Heins, general manager, thermal products–water and process technologies for GE Power & Water. “Since the cleaned water from the process can be reused it also will reduce the amount of fresh water needed per well, thereby further reducing costs and ecological impact.”