Sustainable Management of Flowback Water During Hydraulic Fracturing of Marcellus Shale for Natural Gas Production.




This study evaluated the feasibility of using abandoned mine drainage (AMD) as make- up water for the reuse of produced water for hydraulic fracturing. There is an abundance of AMD sources near permitted gas wells as documented in this study that can not only serve as makeup water and reduce the demand on high quality water resources but can also as a source of chemicals to treat produced water prior to reuse. The assessment of AMD availability for this purpose based on proximity and relevant regulations was accompanied by bench- and pilot-scale studies to determine optimal treatment to achieve desired water quality for use in hydraulic fracturing. Sulfate ions that are often present in AMD at elevated levels will react with Ba(2+)and Sr(2+) in produced water to form insoluble sulfate compounds. Both membrane microfiltration and gravity separation were evaluated for the removal of solids formed as a result of mixing these two impaired waters. Laboratory studies revealed that neither AMD nor barite formed in solution had significant impact on membrane filtration but that some produced waters contained submicron particles that can cause severe fouling of microfiltration membrane. Coagulation/flocculation was found to be an effective process for the removal of suspended solids and both bench- and pilot-scale studies revealed that optimal process conditions can consistently achieve the turbidity of the finished water below 5 NTU. Adjusting the blending ratio of AMD and produced water can achieve the desired effluent sulfate concentration that can be accurately predicted by chemical thermodynamics. Co-treatment of produced water and AMD will result in elevated levels of naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) in the solid waste generated in this process due to radium co-precipitation with barium sulfate. Laboratory studies revealed that the mobility of barite that may form in the subsurface due to the presence of sulfate in the fracturing fluid can be controlled by the addition of appropriate antiscalants.



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