IX Power Clean Water has acquired the patent rights to OrganiClear from Los Alamos National Laboratory and begun commercializing the technology to filter and destroy toxic organic hydrocarbons in produced water without creating an additional waste stream.
The company estimates the toxic water produced from oil and gas industry operations to be a $40-billion-per-year problem. It says its technology will provide a sustainable solution. The OrganiClear machine cleans water to the point that it can be safely used for agriculture and livestock and, with additional processes, can also be used for community water systems.
Produced water is a term for water extracted from the earth along with oil and gas. The water produced may include water from the fossil fuel reservoir, water injected into the formation (including the high pressure water used to fracture the rock formation via hydraulic fracturing, or fracking), and chemicals added during production and well treatment processes.
The major constituents of produced water are salt, oil, grease, and other natural inorganic and organic compounds, chemical additives used in drilling and fracking, and naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM).
BTEX — benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes — is the set of compounds of major concern. Produced water from the extraction of crude oil is always contaminated with these compounds, IX PCW says. BTEX is extremely toxic to humans, animals, crops and natural vegetation.
IX PCW CEO John R. Grizz Deal says produced water is a “global environmental issue.” Worldwide, the volume of produced water generated exceeds 70 billion barrels annually, he says. Deal says OrganiClear can also help the mining and manufacturing industries better manage their produced water.
In addition to allowing produced water to be recycled, Deal says the technology will also help address global water and subsequent food scarcity because OrganiClear can clean the toxic water for beneficial uses.
Earlier this week the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) announced they are investing $200,000 in new research to develop a low-cost method to treat flow-back water following fracking. Over the next year, the researchers will use an inexpensive charcoal product called biochar for the water treatment method. It will be tested on water samples from the Eagle Ford Shale.