Advanced dialysis technology developed by researchers at the University of British Columbia could reduce the use of fresh water and carbon dioxide emissions generated during hydraulic fracturing.
The research team received $500,000 last month from the Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation to push the technology towards commercialization. The funding will be used to demonstrate a scaled up commercial-sized dialysis cell.
The system has the potential for use in any location where brine and waste carbon dioxide are present, UBC says.
Once commercialized, the system is expected to have the capacity to reduce CO2 emissions by 1 metric ton per year and more than 2 billion liters of fresh water for tight oil and shale gas extraction in Alberta, UBC says.
The modular system uses excess carbon dioxide to desalinate wastewater for reuse. The system also produces hydrochloric acid and carbonate salts as byproducts, which are used in fracking, the Vancouver Sun reports.
Conventional desalination technologies such as evaporation and reverse osmosis only produce desalinated water. The low-energy dialysis system desalinates water and reduces the carbon footprint by producing valuable chemicals onsite from waste carbon dioxide.
The waste CO2 is produced by generators at well sites and by gas flaring.
Limited available water resources, drought and increasing water-use demands from all segments of the economy is driving water management issues to the forefront of US oil and gas operations’ considerations and accounts for $8 billion in spending for water services in US fracking regions, according to a report from IHS.
An increasing number of oil and gas operations are reusing water. The practice is a boon to water companies that are helping drillers use less freshwater and dispose of less wastewater.
Earlier this month, OriginOil announced it will launch a product line designed to process 1,000 barrels per day of frac flowback and produced water. The company will demonstrate its water treatment capabilities on May 27.
Photo of hydraulic fracking station by Shutterstock