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Comparison of the degree of fouling at various flux rates and modes of operation using forward osmosis for remediation of produced water from unconventional oil and gas development

Liden, Tiffany, Carlton, Doug D., Miyazaki, Shinji, Otoyo, Takehiko, Schug, Kevin A.
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.675 pp. 73-80
Permian period, basins, durability, energy, fouling, freshwater, oils, osmosis, remediation, wastewater, Texas
Driven by increased energy demands and technological advancements, the energy landscape of the United States has been changed by the expansion of unconventional oil and gas extraction. Unconventional development requires well stimulation, which uses millions of gallons of water per well and generates billions of gallons of wastewater annually. The waste matrix, referred to as produced water, has proven to be challenging to treat due to the complex physical, chemical, and biological composition, which can change over the lifetime of a production well. Here, forward osmosis was used as a remediation technique to extract fresh water from produced water procured from the Permian Basin region of west Texas. These data examine the durability of thin-film hollow-fiber membranes by determining how quickly the membranes irreversibly fouled at various flux rates during two modes of operation: a) active layer in contact with the draw solution (AL-DS); and b) active layer in contact with the feed solution (AL-FS). Membranes used in AL-DS mode fouled faster than their counterparts used in AL-FS mode. Additionally, membranes used with higher flux rates fouled more quickly than those used under low flux conditions. Ultimately, it was determined that produced water will require pretreatment prior to being concentrated using forward osmosis.