Cleaner fracking

October 17, 2012

The technology that opened a wealth of new natural gas resources in the U.S. is producing millions of gallons of dirty water—enough from one typical gas well to cover a football field to a depth of 9-15 feet. Cleaning up that byproduct of "fracking" is the topic of the cover story of the current issue of Chemical & Engineering News. C&EN is the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

Melody M. Bomgardner, C&EN senior business editor, explains that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, uses a mixture of and chemicals injected into the ground to break open rock and release natural . Some of that water comes back out of the ground, laden with various salts, minerals, heavy metals and other substances that pose health and environmental risks. The article describes how water treatment firms are responding to that challenge, developing new ways to treat fracking wastewater and competing for business.

Some companies have developed chemical treatments to remove contaminants and microbes from the wastewater, which can then be reused, while others use evaporators to separate fresh water from the brine. Bomgardner notes that treating the wastewater is a special challenge in the Marcellus Shale area of the Appalachian Basin, where wastewater—millions of gallons per well—must be trucked away for disposal. The cost of disposal is spurring oil and gas companies to adopt these and other technologies that could limit the amount of contaminated water that reaches people, plants and animals, the article notes.

Explore further: Despite overhaul, gas wastewater still a problem

More information: "Cleaner Fracking":

Related Stories

Despite overhaul, gas wastewater still a problem

March 2, 2011

(AP) -- Pennsylvania's natural gas drillers are still flushing vast quantities of contaminated wastewater into rivers that supply drinking water, despite major progress by the industry over the past year in curtailing the ...

Research digs deep into the fracking controversy

April 11, 2011

The turmoil in oil-producing nations is triggering turmoil at home, as rising oil prices force Americans to pay more at the pump. Meanwhile, there's a growing industry that's promising jobs and access to cheaper energy resources ...

Expert: Wastewater well in Ohio triggered quakes

January 3, 2012

A northeast Ohio well used to dispose of wastewater from oil and gas drilling almost certainly caused a series of 11 minor quakes in the Youngstown area since last spring, a seismologist investigating the quakes said Monday.

'Sweet' chemicals from a 'green' raw material

September 19, 2012

The biobased world's traditional focus on producing fuels for cars, trucks and aircraft is quietly undergoing a major transition this summer toward production of chemicals needed for manufacture of hundreds of different consumer ...

Recommended for you

Asteroid impact, volcanism were one-two punch for dinosaurs

October 1, 2015

Berkeley geologists have uncovered compelling evidence that an asteroid impact on Earth 66 million years ago accelerated the eruptions of volcanoes in India for hundreds of thousands of years, and that together these planet-wide ...

History shows more big wildfires likely as climate warms

October 5, 2015

The history of wildfires over the past 2,000 years in a northern Colorado mountain range indicates that large fires will continue to increase as a result of a warming climate, according to new study led by a University of ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.