US govt to fund fracturing water treatment research

Membrane and desalination processes will be researched in some of the new projects selected by the US Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) for improving shale gas and coalbed methane (CBM) production.

The projects target environmental tools and technology to improve management of water resources, water usage, and water disposal, and to support science that will aid the regulatory and permitting processes.
Among the nine projects to be researched are:

General Electrical Company – This project will develop a low-cost, mobile process to treat the total dissolved solids in the flowback water from hydraulic fracturing operations. The researchers will develop both a flowback water pretreatment process and a membrane-based partial demineralization process that yields an effluent suitable for reuse as hydraulic fracturing water (frac water). (Department of Energy (DOE) share: US$ 799,897; recipient share: US$ 199,976; duration 18 months).

West Virginia University – The primary objective of this project is to develop and demonstrate a process for the frac water returns from Marcellus Shale wells. The process will include a pretreatment filter coupled with a combination of one or more treatment elements. (DOE share: US$ 609,619; recipient share: US$ 390,381; duration 32 months).

University of Pittsburgh – This project will evaluate the potential for combining and treating two waste streams (flowback water and acid mine drainage) for reuse as a frac fluid, and will also develop novel viscosity modifiers for water high in total dissolved solids. (DOE share US$ 794,225; recipient: US$ 269,011; duration 36 months).

Texas Engineering Experiment Station – This project will identify an efficient and cost-effective pretreatment methodology for use in processes employed to treat and reuse field-produced brine and fracture flowback waters. The project aims to develop and demonstrate a mobile, multifunctional technology specifically for pretreatment of brine. (DOE share: US$ 844,216; recipient share: US$ 450,000; duration 24 months).