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GE and STW Resources Collaborate to Recover Up to 70% of Hydraulic Fracturing Wastewater

GE Water & Process Technologies and STW Resources, Inc., (STW), a new company formed to use GE technology in water reclamation, formed a collaborative that will use a new, cost-effective process and patented GE thermal evaporation technologies to help oil and gas customers recover up to 70% of their hydraulic fracturing wastewater. Hydraulic fracturing is common technique used to increase the production rate of oil and gas wells, and creates billions of gallons of wastewater annually.

A conventional hydraulic fracture system combines freshwater with proppant (sand) and a polymer system. The polymer portion provides viscosity or thixotropic characteristics to carry the proppant into the reservoir. The fluid is pumped into the oil or gas bearing zone at very high pressure and cracks or fractures the structure, enabling the proppant to penetrate far back into the zone.

Once the fracture is completed, the pressure drops and the zone settles down on the proppant but does not close. The proppant left behind provides a fracture or a path with a very low permeability for the gas and oil to flow to the well bore. Carbon dioxide or nitrogen energized fluids are also utilized for wells with low bottom hole pressure to prevent fluid loss.

For the Barnett Shale region—one of the first targets for the GE-STW collaboration—a different fracture system was developed that requires much more water. The “slick water” fracture system—which uses a friction reducer to enable high rates of water—is the most cost effective system to date in the Barnett Shale and is being expanded into Haynesville, Marcellus, Woodruff, Pieance, and Fayetteville Shales.

Use of fresh water in the system has the additional production benefit of dissolving out water soluble salts that were deposited with the shale. Dissolving these salts provides additional paths for the gas to flow through out of the shale or connections of the natural fractures. The resulting produced water, however, has a high TDS (total dissolved solids) content.

The water used is returned during the production phase of the well as a highly-contaminated water that needs to be disposed of in disposal wells. The drilling and fracing process pollutes the millions of gallons of water used at each drill site with at least 26 chemicals including carcinogens such as benzene. Texas alone—the largest oil and gas producing state in the US—discards more than six billion barrels annually of oilfield wastewater into the state’s 50,000 permitted disposal wells. The wastewater disposed of in the wells is forever lost, placing even more stress on this water-scarce region.

The GE-STW collaborative will initially address the wastewater challenges of Barnett, Fayetteville and Appalachian Shale natural gas drilling plays. Utilizing GE patented evaporator and brine concentrator technologies, the effort will help the regions reclaim approximately 70% of their hydraulic fracturing wastewater. The reclaimed water can be reused in the next well or safely returned back to the environment. The water usage for drilling and fracing the active wells in the Barnett Shale area equates to annual average water usage for at least 185,000 households.

The collaborative will also help oil and gas producers further shrink their environmental footprints by decreasing the amount of equipment and water hauling trucks needed on site.

GE and STW will form project-specific companies, under the banner of “Water Reclamation Partners,” and will offer multi-year cost-per-barrel based service agreements. Water Reclamation Partners will build, own, and operate the equipment and processes required to treat the wastewater and recover reusable water.




With this technology, could Alberta get rid of its huge toxic ponds (multiplying quickly with increased tar sands extraction)?

If so, let's get moving.

Andrey Levin


GE technology is small-volume, and aims to produce clean water safe to dispose into environment. Tar sands industry uses way more water, and evaporative treatment will waste too much energy. What tar sands need is quite simple: remove enough fine sand particles from wastewater to make it clean enough to reuse it again for tar extraction. Simple settling ponds with flocculant/coagulant assistance will suffice.



By re-using the water over and over again, could more oil be economically extracted from the residues and clean sand returned to the exploited areas and covered with top soil for farming or reforested.

Would that be too optimistic?

Andrey Levin

Tar sand operations routinely pile-up settled coarse sand to refill at the end of operations mine site, put top-soil and replant it, according to Alberta’s environmental legislation. It is not the problem, it is already done on some sites and money is allocated to do it on all open pit mines. The problem is huge trailing ponds of contaminated by hydrocarbons and fine silt wastewater. Fine silt prevents reuse of such water to tar extraction, so some kind of treatment removing such silt (and ultimately dissolved salts) could reduce these trailing ponds tenfold, and of course increase percent of oil extraction.


Fracturing is used to increase gas and oil production of usually standard wells. One of the early adopters of this technology was Haliburton. It allows for increased and extended production of present wells and older wells.

Negative effects includes migration of fractants and destruction of aquifers. This has happened in Alberta where this technology was used in shallow wells. It probably occurs in deeper wells but because of slow migration, has little effect on people as of yet. There has also been reported leakages from older, capped wellheads in the same field.

The exact chemical composition of the fractants is considered a trade secret and is not easily traced from wells to companies actions.

In this case although the recovered fractant/wastewater is treated to recover more of the water, it doesn't say what happens to the recovered solids, although I expect some recovery of the fractants. It would, as described, play little to no role in the tailing ponds of oilsand production, although the technology may be extended to it but it certainly wouldn't decrease the toxicity of them.

Henry Gibson

Bruce Batstian, one of the co-founders of WordPerfect, was quoted as saying, "It is not impossible; it is just expensive". GE has the technology, as do others, to purefy water to better than the state of any bottled water. Multi-effect-distillation combined with activated charcoal can efficiently be used to remove the finest silt, salts and hydrocarbons from oil well and tar sands waste water. Ordinary sand-bed filters might remove most of the silt. The hydrocarbons might supply a large part, or all, of the required process energy.

Tar sand processing and water purefication are good candidates for low pressure and low tempereature Nuclear heat generators. The operation at low temperatures and pressures with no steam turbo-machinery will make the heat costs very much lower, perhaps even a factor of ten less. The two major reactor failures were because of high pressure steam. Solar heat might be used in some places. ..HG..

Mike Streminski

Could someone forward this to GE for me? I have done this before and am unable to find a link to send GE my resume so here it is..

Acquire a position with a stable, forward looking company. I have been doing Pre and Post Treatment of Oil Field Waste Water for the past 4 years and would like to utilize my skills and abilities for a company that will be here for many years to come.
 High school graduate of Cle Elum High School
 Bates Technical College in Tacoma, Wa

2005-Present Triad Rovan Environmental/Resource Methods

Equipment and Personnel Manager
Spearheaded onsite acquisition, installation, startup and operation of natural gas well wastewater reclamation facilities that included various forms of clarification, filtration, ultra-filtration (UF) and ozonation.

Reverse Osmosis/Quality Control Operations Supervisor
Commissioned, operated, and maintained specialized high-pressure brackish water RO at same wastewater site. Advanced training for this position included: Texas A&M UF theory and operation, Basic RO theory and operation, membrane cleaning and care, and principles of clarification and filtration.

Triad Industries, Inc.

Regional Sales Manager

Consulted and sold precursor wastewater equipment to prospective customers. Proficiency in operational understanding facilitated this advancement.

Operations Manager

Engineering assistance on, installation, maintenance and repair of application of Basic wastewater treatment chemistry on wastewater equipment at various locations throughout Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Louisiana, and Illinois. Personnel training and technical sales assistance accompanied primary duties. Notable skills in controls electronics, industrial plumbing, and pump applications were developed during this position.

My number is at the top and i am for hire. Thanks

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