Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2017WY93B

Produced Water Treatment with Smart Materials for Reuse in Energy Exploration

Institute: Wyoming
Year Established: 2017 Start Date: 2017-03-01 End Date: 2019-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $24,593 Total Non-Federal Funds: $214,196

Principal Investigators: Dongmei Li

Abstract: Both energy industry and the citizens of Wyoming are concerned with our limited resources of water. While energy companies are facing the constraints of availability and cost of water in the energy production loop, Wyomingites are mostly concerned with the potential detrimental environmental impact of produced water if it is not disposed properly. Concerns from both sides boil down to a group of chemicals that are often referred to as dissolved organic compounds (DOC) or dissolved organic matters (DOM) (referred to as DOC hereafter). Since DOC are often found to be above a critical concentration, they tend aggregate, consequently causing unexpected sub-surface pore plugging during energy exploration activities. In addition, DOC are often found in aquifers, resulting in environmental concerns. Therefore, the focus of the proposal is to evaluate the feasible pathways from an engineering perspective to break down the DOC to smaller, harmless molecules such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and water. To achieve this overarching goal, smart nanoparticles will be applied to modify commercial water/oil separation module surfaces. Starting from commercial separation modules will expedite future process transfer to large-scale water treatment facilities. As such, the proposed technology will benefit energy industry economically and socially, and the citizens of Wyoming by allowing responsible and sustainable energy exploration.