Navigation Links
Acid mine drainage reduces radioactivity in fracking waste
Date:1/9/2014

DURHAM, NC -- Much of the naturally occurring radioactivity in fracking wastewater might be removed by blending it with another wastewater from acid mine drainage, according to a Duke University-led study.

"Fracking wastewater and acid mine drainage each pose well-documented environmental and public health risks. But in laboratory tests, we found that by blending them in the right proportions we can bind some of the fracking contaminants into solids that can be removed before the water is discharged back into streams and rivers," said Avner Vengosh, professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment.

"This could be an effective way to treat Marcellus Shale hydraulic fracturing wastewater, while providing a beneficial use for acid mine drainage that currently is contaminating waterways in much of the northeastern United States," Vengosh said. "It's a win-win for the industry and the environment."

Blending fracking wastewater with acid mine drainage also could help reduce the depletion of local freshwater resources by giving drillers a source of usable recycled water for the hydraulic fracturing process, he added.

"Scarcity of fresh water in dry regions or during periods of drought can severely limit shale gas development in many areas of the United States and in other regions of the world where fracking is about to begin," Vengosh said. "Using acid mine drainage or other sources of recycled or marginal water may help solve this problem and prevent freshwater depletion."

The peer-reviewed study was published in late December 2013 in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

In hydraulic fracturing or fracking, as it is sometimes called millions of tons of water are injected at high pressure down wells to crack open shale deposits buried deep underground and extract natural gas trapped within the rock. Some of the water flows back up through the well, along with natural brines and the natural gas. This "flowback fluid" typically contains high levels of salts, naturally occurring radioactive materials such as radium, and metals such as barium and strontium.

A study last year by the Duke team showed that standard treatment processes only partially remove these potentially harmful contaminants from Marcellus Shale wastewater before it is discharged back into streams and waterways, causing radioactivity to accumulate in stream sediments near the disposal site.

Acid mine drainage flows out of abandoned coal mines into many streams in the Appalachian Basin. It can be highly toxic to animals, plants and humans, and affects the quality of hundreds of waterways in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Because much of the current Marcellus shale gas development is taking place in regions where large amounts of historic coal mining occurred, some experts have suggested that acid mine drainage could be used to frack shale gas wells in place of fresh water.

To test that hypothesis, Vengosh and his team blended different mixtures of Marcellus Shale fracking wastewater and acid mine drainage, all of which were collected from sites in western Pennsylvania and provided to the scientists by the industry.

After 48 hours, the scientists examined the chemical and radiological contents of 26 different mixtures. Geochemical modeling was used to simulate the chemical and physical reactions that had occurred after the blending; the results of the modeling were then verified using x-ray diffraction and by measuring the radioactivity of the newly formed solids.

"Our analysis suggested that several ions, including sulfate, iron, barium and strontium, as well as between 60 and 100 percent of the radium, had precipitated within the first 10 hours into newly formed solids composed mainly of strontium barite," Vengosh said. These radioactive solids could be removed from the mixtures and safely disposed of at licensed hazardous-waste facilities, he said. The overall salinity of the blended fluids was also reduced, making the treated water suitable for re-use at fracking sites.

"The next step is to test this in the field. While our laboratory tests show that is it technically possible to generate recycled, treated water suitable for hydraulic fracturing, field-scale tests are still necessary to confirm its feasibility under operational conditions," Vengosh said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Tim Lucas
tdlucas@duke.edu
919-613-8084
Duke University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Depression-era drainage ditches emerge as sleeping threat to Cape Cod salt marshes
2. Slower-paced meal reduces hunger but affects calorie consumption differently
3. Penn-led team reduces toxicity associated with Lou Gehrigs disease in animal models
4. Lowering stand density reduces mortality of ponderosa pine stands
5. Study shows reforestation in Lower Mississippi Valley reduces sediment
6. Experimental drug reduces brain damage, eliminates brain hemorrhaging in rodents afflicted by stroke
7. Flame retardant ban reduces exposures in pregnant women
8. Subdiaphragmatic vagotomy reduces intake of sweet-tasting solutions in rats
9. Type 2 diabetes patients transplanted with own bone marrow stem cells reduces insulin use
10. HIV prevention among female sex workers in India reduces HIV and syphilis
11. Gym class reduces probability of obesity, study finds for first time
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:11/17/2016)... INDUSTRY, Calif. , Nov. 17, 2016  AIC announces that it has just ... servers in organizations that require high-performance scale-out plus high speed data transfer storage solutions. ... ... ... Setting up a ...
(Date:11/15/2016)... Nov. 15, 2016  Synthetic Biologics, Inc. (NYSE ... focused on the gut microbiome, today announced the ... shares of its common stock and warrants to ... a price to the public of $1.00 per ... Biologics from the offering, excluding the proceeds, if ...
(Date:11/14/2016)... Fla., Nov. 14, 2016  xG Technology, Inc. ("xG" ... providing critical wireless communications for use in challenging operating ... September 30, 2016. Management will hold a conference call ... 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time (details below). Key ... a $16 million binding agreement to acquire Vislink Communication ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/8/2016)... , ... December 08, 2016 , ... Lajollacooks4u, San Diego’s ... banner year for team building events, new program offerings and company expansion. ... earlier this year to include groups of over 30 people. Ever since, Lajollacooks4u has ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... ... December 08, 2016 , ... From ... innovation is taking over sports. On Thursday, December 15th a panel of entrepreneurs, ... disrupting the playing field at a Smart Talk session. Smart Talk will run ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... , Dec. 8, 2016  Biotheranostics today announced ... role of the Breast Cancer Index (BCI) in ... cancer are most at-risk for disease recurrence and ... results from three studies advancing the understanding of ... to tumor biology and inform decisions related to ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... -- Eurofins announces the appointment of Sean Murray , National ... (ESI). Mr. Murray will bring valuable expertise to ... in leading international business teams. As the National Division Leader, he ... Eurofins, status as the global leader in bio-analytical testing services. ... , , ...
Breaking Biology Technology: