Energy Policy Act of 2005 (Ultra-deepwater and Unconventional Resources Program)
Novel Engineered Osmosis Technology: A Comprehensive Approach to the Treatment and Reuse of Produced Water and Drilling Wastewater
Colorado School of Mines (CSM), Golden, CO
Hydration Technology Innovations, LLC (HTI)
Osmotically driven membrane processes are benign engineered technologies that utilize osmosis as a driving force to extract water from highly impaired water while concentrating and minimizing the volume of the contaminated streams. The proposed research will advance the development and implementation of the forward osmosis, osmotic dilution, and a novel ultrafiltration processes for treatment and management of well drilling and stimulation wastewater and produced water in many unconventional and conventional gas and oil fields. These processes have the potential to substantially reduce the overall costs and environmental impacts associated with gas and oil production.
This study will focus on water management in gas shale exploration and production. However, due to the versatility and proved robustness of these processes, it will also address water management needs in many other areas of oil and gas exploration and production, in onshore and even offshore operations. It will bring together producers, field service providers, and both academic and industry partners to address the key issues associated with the management and treatment of exploration and production water and wastewater. This in all cases will result in both on-site water reclamation and reuse, and waste minimization. It will also (perhaps more importantly) provide the research validation and technical maturation data critical for implementation of a comprehensive industrial approach to solving problems associated with hydraulic fracturing wastewaters.
The four specific objectives of this study are: (a) to further develop and optimize engineered osmosis membranes and processes for treatment of drilling wastewater, stimulation wastewater, and produced water associated with unconventional gas production (gas shale, coalbed methane, and tight gas sand) in any major unconventional gas basin and plays, (b) to improve the performance (water throughput and solute rejection) of engineered osmosis membranes and membrane element design for reclamation of stimulation and drilling wastewater, and explore a derivative ultrafiltration membrane for treatment of produced water, (c) to field test the process on drilling and produced waters in the Haynesville and Marcellus shale gas plays, and (d) to develop process design tools and life cycle assessment to assist engineers and operators in predicting water needs, water reuse opportunities, costs, and environmental benefits resulting from using the technologies. Key deliverables will include novel membranes and membrane systems, new methods to enhance and improve osmotic and other water treatment processes, computer programs, and periodic, annual, and final reports.
The results of this study will provide a technically sound and objective assessment and optimization, under realistic field conditions, of industrial scale components critical to these emerging technologies, that already showing promise in solving extraordinary challenges posed by the management of gas exploration wastewater.
Principal Investigators: Prof. Pei Xu (CSM), Dr. Edward Beaudry (HTI), and Dr. Nathan Hutchings, Bear Creek Services (BCS)
Project Duration: 2 years