fracking-water treatment success
Fracking flow-back containing high levels of salt, chloride, and abrasive
Install pumps designed to handle highly corrosive material
Obtaining natural gas through reservoir hydraulic
fracturing, or fracking, is growing across U.S. production fields, including
the Marcellus, Utica, Huron, Haynesville, and Bakken basins. Since water
constitutes approximately 90% of the liquid used in fracking, operating
companies face the challenges of limited freshwater supplies and an increasing
number of environmental and transportation controls. This requires companies to
incorporate water treatment and reuse into business models.
Moving into and remodeling a dilapidated facility
One company decided to
move into a facility formerly known as American Video Glass Co. The Mount
Pleasant, Pa., facility, which was owned and operated by Sony Corp. (Tokyo),
had been in operation for several decades before closing in 2004. It was sold
to an ethanol producer in 2006 that closed in 2008. It then became permitted
and converted to treat water from the Marcellus Shale fracking fields. The
rehabilitated facility opened in April 2010.
Andy Kicinski, president and chief executive
officer of Reserved Environmental Services LLC (RES; Mount Pleasant), worked
with Bob Vlah of PCF Sales Corp. (Pittsburgh) to put the necessary equipment
together to get the plant up and running. Kicinski had to remediate an
abandoned water treatment plant, which had been left without proper
decommissioning, into something to treat fracking water for potential reuse.
“This plant was shut
down for half of a decade before Andy took it over,” Vlah said.
included rusted machinery and broken pipes, pumps, and instruments, Vlah
included installing holding tanks for fracking liquid, large clarifier tanks to
chemically treat the liquid for metals and remove other pollutants, and BN
35-12 progressive cavity pumps to move clarifier underflow, or solids, to a
proprietary dewatering system that Kicinski designed.
Why a progressive cavity pump?
Because Kicinski worked
with seepex Inc. (Bottrop, Germany) at his first treatment facility in West
Virginia, he was familiar with the company’s progressive cavity pumps. The pump
consists of a single-helix metal rotor turning inside a double-helix
elastomeric stator. The cavities transport fluid without shearing or
emulsification. The sealing line between the rotor and stator separates each
cavity and handles solids, liquids, gases, or any combination of the three.
In fracking operations,
clarifier underflows often contain highly saline liquids and abrasive solids,
such as sand. The RES treatment plant also needed pumps that are chemically
resistant to 120,000-ppm chloride content. To meet this need, the rotor and all
other wetted parts were made of stainless steel. The pump also has a Hastelloy
mechanical seal designed to withstand higher corrosion levels. The rotor is
chromium-coated to withstand increased abrasion. Several BN 2-6L pumps also
were installed to pump flocculants.
pumps, which produce the same pressure as four-stage pumps, are designed to be
compact, have uniform walls, and be smaller and less expensive than other
similar technology. The pumps can be outfitted to use a standard hydraulic
motor to minimize downtime. They also are used on oil and gas completion,
water-well drilling, and grouting rigs, as well as to pump explosive emulsions
into drill holes for blasting.
In addition, the company
provides onsite support for all pumping aspects of the shale operations,
including flow-back and produced water treatment, chemical metering, sludge
treatment, sludge feed, solids handling, drilling-mud cleaning, shaker
underflow, desanders and desilters (discharge), centrifuge discharge, and grout
Transitioning into seamless treatment
“Trucks are arriving
from a 60-mi [97-km] radius, but we have had trucks delivering water from as
far as 80 miles [129 km] away,” Kicinski said.
The treatment plant has
a 4542-m3/d (1.2-mgd) capacity and a 30-minute unloading and recycle
process turnaround time. It also is a zero-liquid discharge facility that
returns 100% of the treated water to the shale-gas production field.
The pumps have provided trouble-free service
since April 2010. RES plans on using the pumps for future projects, including
in two additional field plants planned, Kicinski said. “The new plants will be
smaller than our Mount Pleasant facility and will be located near the gas
productions fields,” he said.