Episode 149: What practices are available to better manage the wastewater from hydraulic fracturing?

Meagan Mauter, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, discusses how new technologies for wastewater management can be beneficial both economically and environmentally.

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Expert Elicitation of Trends in Marcellus Oil and Gas Wastewater Management from the American Society of Civil Engineers

Water Management Challenges Associated with the Production of Shale Gas by Hydraulic Fracturing from Elements

Natural Gas Extraction from the Environmental Protection Agency


Transcript

MODERATOR:     How is wastewater from hydraulic fracturing, managed?  On this week’s Energy Bite, Megan Mauter, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, has some answers.

MEAGAN: In a previous Energy Bite episode, we talked about how water is used to fracture shale and release natural gas.  Water that returns to the surface has a high concentration of salt and dissolved organics, requiring careful wastewater management.  In Pennsylvania, this wastewater is either reused to fracture another well, transported to a treatment facility, or trucked to a deep well injection site.

Recent technical improvements have allowed companies to reuse more of their high salinity wastewater at subsequent hydraulic fracturing sites, but there is still a wide variation in how much wastewater companies reuse.  Our research finds that companies who drill wells in spatial-temporal clusters are more likely to find water reuse easier and more cost effective.

MODERATOR:      What happens when the water is trucked off-site for deep well injection?

MEAGAN:   Since Pennsylvania has so few injection wells, these trucks often have to travel to Ohio and West Virginia.  All of this trucking is expensive for companies and can have negative consequences for air emissions, roadway wear and tear, and vehicular accidents.  Another issue is that injecting this water may be increasing earthquakes in these regions, which we will discuss in a future episode.

MODERATOR:     Are you concerned about these wastewater management methods? Take our poll, see the results, and ask your energy questions at Energy Bite dot org.

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