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Innovation: Making Energy Production Cleaner, More Efficient

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted June 29, 2012

When we wrote last week about technologies to mitigate water demands during hydraulic fracturing, we knew we’d find more examples of energy innovation for the simple fact that there’s a lot of innovating going on. Here’s a little bit about two other advances in the area of fracking waste water, as well as another company’s initiative to make the development of Canada’s oil sands cleaner and greener.

Halliburton says it has a suite of solutions to reduce the demand for fresh water in hydraulic fracturing operations, called H2-Forward. You can read more about it, here. Basically, it’s a process that allows drillers to reuse fracturing fluid. Halliburton:

"The service includes new technologies such as CleanWave service that is used to process fracturing flowback and produced water, resulting in a clean brine fully suitable for well site operations including drilling, fracturing and completion fluids. … The system, which can treat 20 bbl/minute, uses an electrical process that destabilizes and coagulates suspended colloidal matter in water. Easy scalability enables quickly treating large volumes of water in reserve and flowback pits and, depending on the operation, treating flowback and produced water in real-time during a fracturing operation. The CleanWave system removes up to 99% of total suspended solids, heavy metals, hydrocarbon and bacteria."

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania-based Epiphany Solar Water Systems’ main product is a system that uses solar power to clean fracking waste water. Consol Energy, which is active in the Marcellus Shale area, recently announced it is investing $500,000 in Epiphany and will run a test site for the purification system beginning next month.

Here’s Ephiphany’s description of its technology:

"Dirty water passes into the distillation unit and instantly vaporizes due to the intense heat focused on the distillation unit. During the vaporization process, any dissolved solids … separate, and living organisms (bacteria) are killed due the intense heat. The water vapor (now void or any impurities) continues to pass through the distillation unit. As the steam reaches colder stages it begins to condense back down into distilled water. From the output of the distillation unit then comes freshly distillated water, safe for consumption."

Calgary-based N-Solv Corporation is promoting a technology it says will reduce the amount of energy needed to produce bitumen from oil sands, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions 85 percent without using any water. A $60 million field test in Alberta is scheduled for next April. It uses warm solvents such as propane or butane to melt the bitumen deposits, which the company says is more efficient than using in-situ steam technology. You can read more about it on the company’s website, here.


Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.