New Rice U Filter Cleans Frack Wastewater on Location for Reuse

Flowback (water that comes back out of the well after fracking) and produced water (naturally occurring water from the depths that comes out the well for months and years after it’s drilled) have long been a “problem” drillers have to deal with. The choices are to: (1) haul it away to an injection well, (2) haul it to a centralized recycling facility, or (3) recycle it on location and reuse it for more drilling/fracking. That third option is really the brass ring for drillers. If only there were an economical way to recycle the water on location and reuse it. Researchers at Rice University (in Texas) believe they have made a breakthrough in option #3. Using a ceramic membrane with microscale pores, Rice researchers have found a way to clean flowback and produced water, removing 90% of hydrocarbons, bacteria and particulates in a single pass through the filter. The Rice discovery is aimed particularly at flowback–the 10-15% of fluid pumped down the hole to frack a well. Rice researchers published their research online, today, in Nature magazine’s open-access Scientific Reports. We have a copy of the paper, titled “Superhydrophilic Functionalization of Microfiltration Ceramic Membranes Enables Separation of Hydrocarbons from Frac and Produced Water,” below…

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