A researcher at Oregon State University, Cascades has been awarded $2.97 million by the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a new technology to treat the wastewater from hydraulic fracturing and improve the public health and environmental impact concerns associated with untreated wastewater, according to a story published on Water Online.
Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is the controversial process that enables increased production of oil and natural gas. It’s a water-intensive undertaking that leaves behind large, contaminated pools.
The award was given to Bahman Abbasi, an energy systems engineering professor who is working on developing a water extraction technology that is both portable and scalable and can also be powered by solar or low-grade heat.
“By extracting clean and reusable graywater from the contaminated water, we can reduce the damaging public health and environmental impacts of reinjecting or storing untreated, contaminated water,” said Abbasi in the story,
Abbasi’s technology uses air humidification and dehumidification to siphon uncontaminated graywater from the tainted fluid. Extracted water can then be transported and reused for a range of purposes, including irrigation, besides just reuse in the fracking process.
The solution is designed to be able to work in the remote areas where fracking typically takes place. It returns harvested graywater to productive use at a fraction of the cost of existing treatment systems.
The research team based at OSU-Cascades in Bend include thermal-fluid, manufacturing, chemical processes and control engineers from seven countries: China, Germany, India, Iran, Nigeria, Sudan and the U.S. Other partners in the project include Michigan State University and the University of Nevada, Reno. Officials from Aramco, a global petroleum and natural gas company, will play a supervisory role.
The award is overseen by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, an arm of the Department of Energy. It’s the largest award ever presented by ARPA-E’s OPEN+ program for energy-water technologies.
Abbasi has also worked on a modular, scalable and portable means of desalinating saltwater to provide drinking water in places where fresh water is scarce.