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By Alptekin Aksan
We have developed a green, economically viable bioremediation technology to clean produced wastewaters from unconventional oil and gas (hydraulic fracturing) operations.
Short description of your technology
We have developed a green, economically viable bioremediation technology to clean produced wastewaters from unconventional oil and gas (hydraulic fracturing) operations. Our technology utilizes silica-encapsulated, naturally-occurring, hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria. The silica-encapsulation platform greatly extends the lifetimes and activities of the microorganisms, further contributing to the favorable economics of their use. This technology is unique by economically degrading the largest number of chemicals with the smallest inventory of microorganisms. This NSF-funded project has reached the level of maturity to conduct a small-scale field test.
What is the key element of your technology that differentiates it from existing solutions
The remediation and cleaning of hydraulic fracturing produced water is a multibillion dollar industry, which is highly dependent on complex, expensive and energy inefficient processes, such as evaporation and filtration ($2-30/barrel) or by accumulating the untreated wastewater in surface ponds. These processes do not resolve the problem; they just concentrate the waste that still requires disposal at an additional cost! Our technology uses a fraction of the energy used by alternative processes and completely removes the organic components of the waters, eliminating disposal costs. Therefore, this technology spearheads the complete solution to recycling and reuse of waters, especially in arid areas.
Lawrence Wackett is Distinguished McKnight University Professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. His research has focused on water and soil pollutants, methods of detection, and bioremediation. He co-developed the University of Minnesota Biocatalysis/ Biodegradation Database (UM-BBD) for 17 years before its transfer to the Swiss Federal Water Research Institute (EAWAG). His major current research involves bioremediation of flowback and produced water from hydraulic fracturing.