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Using a form of 'ice that burns' to make potable water from oil and gas production

Date:
August 28, 2013
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
In the midst of an intensifying global water crisis, scientists are reporting development of a more economical way to use one form of the "ice that burns" to turn very salty wastewater from fracking and other oil and gas production methods into water for drinking and irrigation. The method removes more than 90 percent of the salt from the water.

A form of 'ice that burns' can be used to make potable water from wastewater from oil and gas production.
Credit: U.S. Geological Survey

In the midst of an intensifying global water crisis, scientists are reporting development of a more economical way to use one form of the "ice that burns" to turn very salty wastewater from fracking and other oil and gas production methods into water for drinking and irrigation.

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The study on the method, which removes more than 90 percent of the salt, appears in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.

Yongkoo Seol and Jong-Ho Cha explain that salty wastewater is a byproduct of oil and gas production, including hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. These methods use water and produce as a byproduct almost 10 barrels of salty water for every barrel of oil. That water could help people in water-stressed regions. But it can't be desalinated economically with traditional methods. Seol and Cha knew that an alternative called "gas hydrate desalination" showed promise.

A gas hydrate consists of only water and a gas such as methane, the stuff of natural gas. Thus, when hydrates form, salts and other impurities are left behind. When the hydrate breaks down, the gas and pure water are released. However, forming the gas hydrate used in desalination required costly chilling of the water to 28 degrees Fahrenheit. Seol and Cha sought to develop a less costly version of the method, which involves a variation on methane hydrates, chunks of ice retrieved from deep below the sea that burst into flame when brought to the surface.

They describe development and laboratory testing of a new type of gas hydrate desalination technique. They formed the hydrates from water and carbon dioxide with the gases cyclopentane and cyclohexane, which made the method work more efficiently. It removed more than 90 percent of the salt compared to 70 percent with the previous gas hydrate technique. And the process works at near-room temperature, reducing the need for chilling.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jong-Ho Cha, Yongkoo Seol. Increasing Gas Hydrate Formation Temperature for Desalination of High Salinity Produced Water with Secondary Guests. ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, 2013; 130729094043000 DOI: 10.1021/sc400160u

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Using a form of 'ice that burns' to make potable water from oil and gas production." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130828103444.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2013, August 28). Using a form of 'ice that burns' to make potable water from oil and gas production. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130828103444.htm
American Chemical Society. "Using a form of 'ice that burns' to make potable water from oil and gas production." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130828103444.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

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