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Membrane-based treatment of shale oil and gas wastewater: The current state of knowledge

Tong, Tiezheng, Carlson, Kenneth H., Robbins, Cristian A., Zhang, Zuoyou, Du, Xuewei
Frontiers of environmental science & engineering 2019 v.13 no.4 pp. 63
freshwater, oil and gas industry, oils, product quality, shale, vapors, wastewater, wastewater treatment
Shale oil and gas exploitation not only consumes substantial amounts of freshwater but also generates large quantities of hazardous wastewater. Tremendous research efforts have been invested in developing membrane-based technologies for the treatment of shale oil and gas wastewater. Despite their success at the laboratory scale, membrane processes have not been implemented at full scale in the oil and gas fields. In this article, we analyze the growing demands of wastewater treatment in shale oil and gas production, and then critically review the current stage of membrane technologies applied to the treatment of shale oil and gas wastewater. We focus on the unique niche of those technologies due to their advantages and limitations, and use mechanical vapor compression as the benchmark for comparison. We also highlight the importance of pretreatment as a key component of integrated treatment trains, in order to improve the performance of downstream membrane processes and water product quality. We emphasize the lack of sufficient efforts to scale up existing membrane technologies, and suggest that a stronger collaboration between academia and industry is of paramount importance to translate membrane technologies developed in the laboratory to the practical applications by the shale oil and gas industry.