GE and memsys Field Project Shows Promise for Treatment of Fracking Wastewater

By Chemical Processing staff

Sep 25, 2013

After 200 hours of continuous operation at a Texas-based commercial disposal well, GE and memsys clearwater Pte. Ltd. announced success for a new vapor compressor-driven membrane distillation (MD) system. memsys and GE will further discuss the development and use of MD to treat produced water at the Water and Energy 2013 conference that takes place in Houston on Sept. 25.

The new system, which is used to concentrate produced water from the hydraulic fracturing process, was designed to reduce produced water disposal costs and enable water reuse. The joint project demonstrated that MD combined with vapor compression can handle the high-salinity produced waters associated with unconventional gas exploration and production. During field tests, the companies were able to achieve 100 percent process uptime without any noticeable decline in performance or need for cleaning.

They also realized stable performance with brine concentrations near saturation, lower energy consumption compared to conventional technology and high distillate quality.

“As the cost of brine concentration comes down, it will enable more sustainable treatment options compared to trucking and deep well disposal,” said Bill Heins, general manager, thermal products—water and process technologies for GE Power & Water. “Since the cleaned water from the process can be reused it also will reduce the amount of fresh water needed per well, thereby further reducing costs and ecological impact.”

With the project complete, the companies plan to continue to demonstrate this technology in other geographies and applications, as well as scaling up the process.

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