Produced Water

Treatment of Coal-Bed Methane Produced Water Using Short-Bed Ion Exchange

By Michael Sheedy


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Coal-bed methane (CBM) exists in coal deposits throughout North America. At the turn of this century, it was estimated to supply 7% of U.S. natural gas demand. The importance of this source of gas has only continued to grow over the subsequent years. The groundwater pressure traps natural gas in the coal seams. Production wells are drilled into the coal seam, and once a sufficient amount of water is removed the well goes into gas production. Withdrawal of this groundwater is one of the major concerns related to using this source of energy, and has been the focus of federal and state regulators, local landowners, and other special interest groups. Consequently, beneficial use of this water is of great importance. Alternate uses for this well water include the following: agriculture (i.e., for livestock and irrigation), municipal supply, underground injection to recharge groundwater supply, surface discharge to streams or soil, impoundment storage, and as a supply for industrial use. Water quality standards vary depending on the use.

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