Hybrid biophysical membrane treatment systems for sustainable water reuse in the O&G industry

Conference Dates

September 11-16, 2016


Development of unconventional oil and gas (O&G) resources through hydraulic fracturing has surged in recent years, leading to energy independence of the US. Increased O&G production, coupled with geopolitical unrest in O&G producing countries around the world, has led to a steady decline in oil prices, resulting in reduced investment in research and development of innovative water management techniques (i.e., recycling and reuse). Yet, potential new regulations that limit deep-well injection and expected increase in fresh water demand and cost are intensifying competition to develop sustainable and efficient strategies for O&G wastewater treatment and reuse. Furthermore, due to drastic reductions in new drilling activity, reuse of produced water (PW) and fracturing flowback (FFB) within the oilfield will be minimized, and the PW volumes generated might exceed the water demanded for well development. To accommodate this shift, reuse applications are expanding to include discharge to surface water (rivers and lakes), groundwater augmentation, and irrigation, requiring robust, multi-barrier treatment approaches.

While several technologies have been applied for treatment of O&G wastewater in the past, including hydrocyclones, chemical treatment, filtration, oxidation, etc., membrane processes are often required to meet stringent reuse standards (e.g., removal of metals, inorganic, and organic contaminants). However, due to the high membrane fouling potential of PW and FFB, thorough pretreatment targeting removal of organic matter and suspended solids is critical. Biological technologies have proven effective at removing organic matter and nutrients from a variety of waste streams, including domestic waste streams, landfill leachate, and oily wastewaters; and tight/dense membranes are most established in desalination of seawater and brackish waters. Integration of biologically-active filtration (BAF), ultrafiltration (UF), and nanofiltration (NF) may result in comprehensive removal and degradation of contaminants, reducing membrane fouling due to BAF pretreatment, and producing a high quality permeate suitable for reuse applications such as irrigation and groundwater augmentation.

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