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Characterization of hydraulic fracturing flowback water in Colorado: Implications for water treatment

Science of the Total Environment

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https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.01.043

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Abstract

A suite of analytical tools was applied to thoroughly analyze the chemical composition of an oil/gas well flowback water from the Denver–Julesburg (DJ) basin in Colorado, and the water quality data was translated to propose effective treatment solutions tailored to specific reuse goals. Analysis included bulk quality parameters, trace organic and inorganic constituents, and organic matter characterization. The flowback sample contained salts (TDS = 22,500 mg/L), metals (e.g., iron at 81.4 mg/L) and high concentration of dissolved organic matter (DOC = 590 mgC/L). The organic matter comprised fracturing fluid additives such as surfactants (e.g., linear alkyl ethoxylates) and high levels of acetic acid (an additives' degradation product), indicating the anthropogenic impact on this wastewater. Based on the water quality results and preliminary treatability tests, the removal of suspended solids and iron by aeration/precipitation (and/or filtration) followed by disinfection was identified as appropriate for flowback recycling in future fracturing operations. In addition to these treatments, a biological treatment (to remove dissolved organic matter) followed by reverse osmosis desalination was determined to be necessary to attain water quality standards appropriate for other water reuse options (e.g., crop irrigation). The study provides a framework for evaluating site-specific hydraulic fracturing wastewaters, proposing a suite of analytical methods for characterization, and a process for guiding the choice of a tailored treatment approach.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Characterization of hydraulic fracturing flowback water in Colorado: Implications for water treatment
Series title:
Science of the Total Environment
DOI:
10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.01.043
Volume:
512-513
Year Published:
2015
Language:
English
Publisher:
Elsevier
Contributing office(s):
National Research Program - Central Branch
Description:
8 p.
First page:
637
Last page:
644
Country:
United States
State:
Colorado