(662d) Adsorption of NORM from Produce Water in Natural Gas Hydraulic Fracturing

Authors: 
Benavides, P. T., University of Illinois at Chicago
Diwekar, U. D., Vishwamitra Research Institute

Natural gas has become an essential energy resource in the U.S due to the increasing demand of energy, the high oil prices, and the need of foreign oil independency.  The improvement in the drilling technology has allowed the rapid expansion in gas production allowing the extraction of unconventional gas such as shale gas. Hydraulic fracturing is used to extract this natural gas from shale formations.  Although natural gas is cleaner-burning than coal or oil, there is a lot of controversy due to the environmental impact related to the water consumption and its treatment. For instance, hydraulic fracturing generates significant volumes of wastewater which contain dissolved chemicals, high content of salts, and significant levels of Natural Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM) in the form of radium isotopes. Therefore, one of the biggest challenges of this industry is to develop techniques for the prediction, prevention, remediation, and appropriate disposal of oil-field NORM.    In this work, we will emphasize in NORM removal from produced waters generated by hydraulic fracturing.  We will use computer aided molecular design (CAMD) methods for developing new environmentally benign adsorbents for NORM removal. CAMD is generally the reverse use of the group contribution methods (GCMs) used to generate molecules having desirable properties.  Thus, we will develop new group contribution methods for important properties of adsorbents based on the thermodynamics. As a result, the GCM along with CAMD based optimization methods will identify potential groups of environmentally benign adsorbents.