Date of Graduation

8-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Chemical Engineering (MSChE)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Chemical Engineering

Advisor

Jamie Hestekin

Committee Member

Robert Cross

Second Committee Member

Wen Zhang

Abstract

Innovations in hydraulic fracturing technology have created opportunities for petroleum and natural gas production. This technology injects water, sand, and additives to create fissures in rock formations and discharge oil and gas to the surface. The average amount of water used per well is approximately 4.4 million gallons. The large water demand and the complexities involved in wastewater treatment make this process very expensive and not sustainable as far as water use is concerned. Flexible membrane technology has not been developed to process fracking water for re-use across the U.S. The objective of this project is to compare and analyze the recovery of contaminated fracking water through different types of ultrafiltration and nanofiltration membranes.

Through ultrafiltration, the hydraulic fracture water is pretreated to remove the majority of total suspended solids (TSS) and turbidity. The water flux, chemical oxygen demand (COD), turbidity, TSS, and salt level concentrations are then measured. Afterwards, the treated water is filtered using flat sheet nanofiltration membranes of Osmonics and SEPA Membrane Element Cell Equipment. The process is repeated with different membranes to determine optimal operating pressure, flux, and salt rejection. This study reveals that the highest performing membranes could remove 70 percent of divalent ions with an 85 percent water recovery in the permeate. Therefore, the process reduces significant amount of wastewater, which is disposed to the deep wells injection. With these promising results, our process can recycle water for reuse in hydraulic fracturing while minimizing environmental damage due to water contamination. Through this project, we are confident that hydraulic fracking can become a more sustainable process.

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