Ohio University researchers have been granted $1.45 million in funding to complete and commercialize an on-site treatment method for wastewater produced by oil and gas operations, according to a report by Columbus Business First.
If the project is a success, natural gas drillers operating in the Utica region could become less dependent on underground injection wells. The project is being led by Jason Trembly, associate director at the Ohio Coal Research Center. Trembly had originally requested $2.48 million in addition to the $2 million received in government funding two years ago.
The most recent funding is being provided by Ohio Third Frontier, a technology-based economic development initiative, which approved the funding on Wednesday as part of its Innovation Platform Program. Trembly hopes to begin testing and streamlining the wastewater treatment method in as little as 18 months.
Treating wastewater on-site is a growing trend, due mostly to the high costs of shipping water off to one of Ohio’s 200 injection well sites. A typical drilling site can require as much as 3.5 million gallons of water. Operators are beginning to recycle as much water as they can, and Trembly says the project will clean and reuse wastewater in a manner that’s more cost effective than what’s currently available.
Tom Knox reports:
“What we want to do is offer technology so we can actually take that produced water, clean it so the water can be reused and stay in the field,” Trembly [said]. “It offers producers and operators some significant savings.”
Compared to other shale plays, the geology of the Marcellus and Utica formations makes it costly to ship and treat water used for fracking. The university plans to license the technology to third-party service providers, which would then travel to well sites to clean the water, offering lower-cost treatment and options for reuse rather than injection well disposal.