NETL and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), through the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM), are collaborating with natural gas producer Olympus Energy to optimize produced water management in the Appalachian Basin.
The partnership with Olympus is part of DOE FECM’s three-year, $5 million Produced Water Application for Beneficial Reuse, Environmental Impact and Treatment Optimization (PARETO) initiative, which will develop, demonstrate and deploy an optimization framework for oil and gas produced water management.
Olympus Energy, a privately owned company that specializes in upstream development of natural gas resources, is active in the core Marcellus, Utica and Upper Devonian formations across southwestern Pennsylvania.
DOE researchers have been working with the Olympus team since June 2021. The goal of the collaboration is to explore opportunities for leveraging cutting-edge mathematical optimization technology to (1) minimize community impacts of water management, (2) increase produced water reuse, (3) reduce trucking activity, and (4) decrease costs associated with produced water management.
Using advanced optimization algorithms, Project PARETO will seek to coordinate important tasks such as finding the most efficient methods and routes to transport produced water from production areas to treatment facilities, which will reduce truck traffic, wear and tear on roads and carbon dioxide emissions, and examine the economic feasibility of supplying produced water to sites where it can be treated or repurposed.
NETL’s Markus Drouven, Ph.D., technical director for Project PARETO, said, “When we approached Olympus about the possibility of collaborating on the development and testing of the produced water optimization software, they jumped at the opportunity to try out our innovative technology.”
He continued, “Our recent results suggest that processing large amounts of data through advanced optimization algorithms can help companies such as Olympus explore options and single out solutions that are both cost-effective and environmentally beneficial.”
Moving forward into 2022, DOE and Olympus Energy intend to collaborate on a “live pilot” of PARETO, an open-source optimization framework.
The idea is to leverage PARETO for operational decision support and to identify specific opportunities for improvement. The pilot will allow the DOE project team to verify and refine PARETO further and will also enable Olympus Energy to evaluate how the proposed advanced produced water management application may help realize important environmental and cost benefits.
“Olympus continually looks for ways to improve the environmental footprint of our operations and partnering on Project PARETO provides a great opportunity to leverage optimization technology in those efforts,” said Mike Wahl, the company’s chief operating officer.
The computational framework used by PARETO builds on foundational capabilities created through NETL’s Institute for the Design of Advanced Energy Systems (IDAES) and DOE’s National Alliance for Water Innovation (NAWI). PARETO will leverage the IDAES integrated platform, an open-source modeling, simulation and optimization framework, as well as the library of water treatment process models made available by NAWI to create a cutting-edge produced water optimization platform that supports better and faster decision making.
“By uniting the talents and strengths of private industry and national labs like NETL and LBNL, Project PARETO is a wonderful example of people coming together to ensure the steady supply of reliable energy while meeting the needs of our communities and the environment,” Drouven said.
For more information, review the DOE/NETL Produced Water Optimization Initiative factsheet.
NETL is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory that drives innovation and delivers technological solutions for an environmentally sustainable and prosperous energy future. By leveraging its world-class talent and research facilities, NETL is ensuring affordable, abundant and reliable energy that drives a robust economy and national security, while developing technologies to manage carbon across the full life cycle, enabling environmental sustainability for all Americans.