Approximately 98 percent of produced water generated from oil and gas exploration and production is deep well injected, which is both expensive and wasteful, according to the Argonne National Laboratory. Researchers at New Mexico State University’s Department of Civil Engineering are working to develop solutions to the waste, studying water reuse and treatment, including reverse osmosis membrane systems that desalt the water.
A team of researchers in New Mexico State University’s Department of Civil Engineering, led by Assistant Professor Pei Xu, is working to develop solutions to the problems related to produced water. Fracking flow-back water and produced water are the waste streams generated in oil and gas exploration and production.
“Oil and gas are buried underground and are mixed with water for extraction,” Xu said. “When we get oil and gas out of the ground, we also have the produced water that is the by-product. The quantity of the oil and gas produced water is significant in the United States.”
Produced water management is a significant challenge for the oil and gas industry. Based on a survey conducted by Argonne National Laboratory, approximately 98 percent of produced water generated from onshore production is deep well injected, which is costly for producers and is a waste of water resources, especially since much of the nation’s oil and gas exploration is in arid or semi-arid areas like Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming.
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