Washington, D.C. — The Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) has selected nine new projects targeting environmental tools and technology for shale gas and coalbed methane (CBM) production. NETL’s goals for these projects are to improve management of water resources, water usage, and water disposal, and to support science that will aid the regulatory and permitting processes required for shale gas development.
A primary goal of Fossil Energy’s Oil and Natural Gas Program is to enhance the responsible development of domestic natural gas and oil resources that supply the country’s energy. A specific objective is to accelerate the development and demonstration of technologies that will aid our country’s independent producers in dealing with use and treatment of water related to natural gas and oil production.
Operators face new challenges as well as new opportunities in developing resources such as shale gas. The following recipients will help provide the new technologies, tools, strategies, and knowledge toward reliable and environmentally responsible development of natural gas.
- ALL Consulting, Tulsa, Okla.—The objective of this project is to develop a modeling system that will allow operators and regulators to plan all aspects of water management associated with shale gas development, including water supply, transport, storage, use, recycling, and disposal. This system will be used in planning, managing, forecasting, permit tracking, and compliance monitoring. (DOE share: $776,574; recipient share: $334,496; duration 36 months)
- General Electrical Company, Niskayuna, N.Y.—This project will develop a low-cost, mobile process to treat the total dissolved solids in the flowback water from hydraulic fracturing operations. The researchers will develop both a flowback water pretreatment process and a membrane-based partial demineralization process that yields an effluent suitable for reuse as hydraulic fracturing water (frac water). (DOE share: $799,897; recipient share: $199,976; duration 18 months)
- West Virginia University, Morgantown, W.Va.—The primary objective of this project is to develop and demonstrate a process for the frac water returns from Marcellus Shale wells. The process will include a pretreatment filter coupled with a combination of one or more treatment elements. (DOE share: $609,619; recipient share: $390,381; duration 32 months)
- University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Ark.—The ultimate goal of this project is to develop a water management decision-support system by modifying and integrating a state-of-the-art water resource simulation model with a modern enterprise geographic information system (GIS). This will provide a science-based tool that can be used to support development of energy resources in the Fayetteville Shale region of Arkansas. (DOE share: $636,467; recipient share: $179,517; duration 24 months)
- Ground Water Protection Research Foundation, Oklahoma City, Okla.—This project will develop a new hydraulic fracturing module as an add-on to the well known Risk-Based Data Management System. The module will assist regulators and operators in enhancing protective measures for source water and streamlining the well-permitting process. (DOE share: $845,923; recipient share: $211,474; duration 24 months)
- Geological Survey of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Ala.—The primary objective of this research is to analyze and develop strategies for water management in the CBM reservoirs of the Black Warrior basin. The study will develop a large, high-quality database and GIS that will provide a basis for more efficient development of CBM and identification of beneficial uses of produced water. (DOE share: $725,647; recipient share: $314,316; duration 36 months)
- Altela Inc., Albuquerque, N.M.—This project will demonstrate that the AltelaRain technology can be successfully deployed in a cost-effective manner to treat the produced and flowback water from Marcellus Shale, and that it can operate within state and federal regulatory requirements. (DOE share: $886,025; recipient share: $912,316; duration 18 months)
- University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pa.—This project will evaluate the potential for combining and treating two waste streams (flowback water and acid mine drainage) for reuse as a frac fluid, and will also develop novel viscosity modifiers for water high in total dissolved solids. (DOE share $794,225; recipient: $269,011; duration 36 months)
- Texas Engineering Experiment Station, College Station, Tex.—This project will identify an efficient and cost-effective pretreatment methodology for use in processes employed to treat and reuse field-produced brine and fracture flowback waters. The project aims to develop and demonstrate a mobile, multifunctional technology specifically for pretreatment of brine. (DOE share: $844,216; recipient share: $450,000; duration 24 months)
The total proposed value for all selected projects is $10.2 million (DOE share: $6.9 million).