Osorb, a hybrid organic-inorganic nano-engineered structure,
novel water cleaning technology currently being tested in field
demonstrations could help significantly reduce potential environmental
impacts from producing natural gas from the Marcellus shale and other
geologic formations, according to the Department of Energy’s (DOE)
National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL).
Osorb technology, which uses swelling glass to remove impurities, has
been shown to clean flow back water and produced water from
hydraulically fractured oil and gas wells. Produced waters are by far
the largest volume byproduct associated with oil and gas exploration and
production. Approximately 21 billion barrels of produced water,
containing a wide variety of hydrocarbons and other chemicals, are
generated each year in the United States from nearly one million wells.
the Office of Fossil Energy’s (FE) research laboratory, is addressing
concerns about produced water by funding multiple projects to develop
environmental tools and technologies, such as Osorb, that will improve
management of water resources, water usage, and water treatment during
oil and gas exploration and production.
pilot-scale Osorb-based water treatment systems have been built to
date: a non-regenerating skid-mounted system which handles inputs of up
to 4 gallons per minute, and a 60-gallon-per-minute trailer-mounted
system that included a mechanism for Osorb regeneration. ABSMaterials
has used these systems on numerous water samples including flow back
water from the Marcellus, Woodford, and Haynesville shale formations and
produced water from the Clinton and Bakken formations.
independent testing, the skid-mounted system was found to remove more
than 99 percent of oil and grease, more than 90 percent of dissolved
BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes), and significant
amounts of production chemicals. Concurrent testing was performed using
the trailer-mounted 60-gallon-per-minute system on produced water
streams. One major oil services company conducted a full pilot test in
the field using produced water from the Clinton formation in Ohio in
July 2010 and March 2011. These tests showed that total petroleum
hydrocarbon levels were slashed from 227 milligrams per liter to 0.1
milligrams per liter.
results of this project have led to commercial interest from several
global energy companies and future collaborative efforts. ABSMaterials
also plans to deploy a trailer-mounted, 72,000-gallons-per-day water
purification system for field use in North America in mid 2011.
number of existing treatment techniques separate dispersed oils from
water, taking advantage of the density difference between oil and water.
However, very few technologies effectively address dissolved
hydrocarbons, slicking agents, and polymers that prevent flow-back water
from being recycled or discharged.
to NETL, Osorb, a hybrid organic-inorganic nano-engineered structure,
is a breakthrough in hydrocarbon removal technology that rapidly swells
up to eight times its dried volume upon exposure to non-polar liquids.
The swelling process is completely reversible—with no loss in swelling
behavior even after repeated use—when absorbed species are evaporated by
heating the material.
ABSMaterials project was funded through the federal government’s Small
Business Innovation Research Program. It is the second project under
FE’s Oil and Natural Gas Program to show significant success treating
produced or flow-back water. Several other projects will be conducting
demonstrations focusing on other water treatment technologies during the
remainder of fiscal year 2011.