The latest technologies poised to reduce water usage in onshore oil and gas production, according to General Electric and Statoil, include a water treatment via a nano-sponge, ice crystals and an evaporator tornado, as well as high-powered laser beams that make pipes super water repellent.
Managing water is one of the industry’s biggest challenges. However, water management costs vary between 10 percent and 30 percent across geographic sites and the operational life of a well, GE and Statoil say. In addition to benefiting the environment, reducing water use can lower transport and energy costs — both of which are crucial to maximizing profitability during this downturn.
To address this environmental issue, GE and Statoil hosted their second open innovation challenge, which used crowd sourcing to find technologies that reduce fresh water in shale oil and gas production. Earlier this week they announced four winners. Each will receive $25,000. Additionally, GE and Statoil have earmarked a discretionary funding pool of $375,000 for co-development activities — they say this will be divvied up based on a more in-depth evaluation of winning proposals.
The four winners are:
- Ahilan Raman, Clean Energy and Water Technologies: An integrated technology that first removes total organic compounds and then separates remaining compounds by creating ice crystals through “Eutectic freeze crystallization (EFC).”
- Anthony Duong, Battelle Memorial Institute: A nano-sponge — a gel formed of nanoscale particles is injected into hydraulically fractured wells to soak up the halite ions (the main actors in forming salt deposits). As a result, salt is never allowed to crystalize, ensuring salt deposits cannot damage the equipment.
- Karen Sorber, Micronic Technologies: A low-pressure, low-temperature, mechanical evaporation technology called MicroDesal that purifies wastewater from any source.
- Chunlei Guo, University of Rochester: A technique using high powered lasers to alter the surface of the inner walls of downhole production pipes, making a metal surface super water repellent.
When asked how much these technologies are expected cut water management costs, a spokesman told Environmental Leader: “All of the winning entries are at various stages of development, some are further along than others, as such not all have hard figures about much water they displace or cost reduction numbers. That said, the Micronic Technologies’ solution removes solids, dissolved solids, metals and bacteria at over 95 percent removal rates and 95 percent throughput and is estimated to cost one-tenth that of distillation.”