Reverse Osmosis

High-Recovery RO for Treating Water from Natural Gas Production

By Bob Kimball, P.E., and Ken Klinko, P.E.


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Natural gas production, especially from unconventional resources such as coal seams, tight sands and shale formations, is one of the fastest-growing energy sources in the United States, and across the world. A primary factor considered for development of these resources is the management of water produced in association with the gas. Table A shows a summary of the typical quality of various produced waters in the United States. While the water volume and quality of gas field produced water vary considerably between basins, a common characteristic of almost all produced water sources is the presence of total dissolved salts (TDS) at concentrations that, typically, are well above the secondary drinking water standard of 500 milligrams per liter (mg/L). Methods of disposing of produced water require a range of management and treatment approaches and depend on several site-specific factors, including water quality, flow, landowner lease agreements, economics, discharge options, and a variety of other influences. Industry currently uses several different water management tools, such as direct discharge, managed irrigation, storage and infiltration, and deep-well injection. In some cases, these options are not sufficient, and the only feasible option is direct モend-of-pipeヤ treatment.

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