Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2016PA225B

Remediation of Flowback Water by Transformation of Organic Additives Used in Fracking Operations

Institute: Pennsylvania
Year Established: 2016 Start Date: 2016-03-01 End Date: 2017-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $20,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $69,424

Principal Investigators: Manish Kumar

Abstract: Recycling and beneficial reuse of flowback and produced water are attractive options for well operators, especially when disposal options and fresh water sources decline or in response to increasing regulations. However, the high levels of organic contaminants and scale forming constituents in flowback water can present a hazard to the environment, both during the fracking process and when this water reaches the surface and has to be disposed of. The high temperature and pressure conditions that exist downhole during the fracking process, in addition to exposure to the high surface area shale formations, are expected to result in significant physical and chemical transformation of organic additives. However, few studies have focused on this important aspect of fracturing water chemistry or the risks this creates to the environment. The proposed research will address this knowledge gap by developing a synthetic flowback water recipe as well as standardization of laboratory testing conditions to explore the effects of downhole conditions on the transformation of flowback waters. We will further evaluate the treatability of this water using membrane filtration.