Hydrofracking is a widely used practice for extracting natural gas where by “fracking water” is injected into wells drilled in shale formations to allow the natural gas to be extracted. The water/organic chemical mixture (fracking water) used in this process has caused some controversy, but it has also provided a platform for improving environmental innovations as well as energy solutions. Hydraulic fracking is a process that will likely continue for the foreseeable future due to the increasing demand for natural gas.
What is Hydrofracking?
Hydrofracking is an extraction process where a water and organic chemical mixture is injected into cracks in a shale bed at extremely high pressures. Breaking open the rock allows the natural gas to be extracted.
How much water is used in the fracking process?
Approximately 20 billion gallons of produced water is generated on an annual basis. Most fracking experts agree that it is not difficult to separate the organic chemicals from the water at the end of the process; however, after the organic chemicals are removed, but in many cases the remaining water is made up of 20% salt.
What is done with the wastewater?
Legislation varies from state to state as to what can be done with the wastewater. In Texas and Arkansas, for instance, the wastewater can simply be stored in designated underground wells. There are some obvious risks with that approach. There is a possibility that the wastewater could seep into nearby fresh water wells. Some states take the wastewater to purification or water treatment plants. The risk with that scenario is that the water is not effectively treated before it is pumped into rivers and tributaries. Other states, such as Pennsylvania, have more stringent geopolitical policies. The geology around the Marcellus Shale Formation in Pennsylvania (which holds enough natural gas to fuel the entire United States for 2 years) does not accept the bury-and-forget technique as adequate. They use a glass called Osorb that swells to eight times its original size and absorbs almost all of the volatile chemicals and hydrocarbons in the water.
Once the volatile organic compounds and hydrocarbons are taken out of the fracking water, the challenge remains of what’s to be done with the leftover saltwater? Victory Energy is developing a solution to that very problem. They contend that not only can they desalinate the water, but they can also use the water to generate energy. The next blog in this series will shed light on how fracking water can be transformed into useable energy.
Victory Energy is a leader in innovative energy solutions. They strive to generate value exploring new ways of energy production. To learn more about the various types of energy solutions Victory Energy offers, visit www.victoryenergy.com.