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Reduced Radioactivity in Blending Fracking Wastewater with Acid Mine Drainage Discovered

Creation Date Thursday, 20 February 2014.

A professor of geochemistry and water quality at the Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment recently conducted a study that discussed the potential of acid mine drainage to help reduce radioactivity in fracking wastewater.Fracking or hydraulic fracturingis a technique used by petroleum engineers to extract industrial gas and natural oil from shale rock formations.

Hydraulic fracturing has revolutionized the energy industry and helped numerous oil and gas wells achieve economic viability. The process is highly controversial despite being extensively used across states as wastewater generated from hydraulic fracturing promptsa number of environmental and health concerns.

However, through a series of laboratory testing, it was discovered that combining equal proportions of two contaminated liquids results in some of the fracking contaminants being bound into solids and eliminated before the water is discharged back into the waterways. This new research was spearheaded by Geochemistry and Water Quality Professor AvnerVengosh for the December 2013 Environmental Science and Technology journal.

The study also found that the fusion of acid mine drainage and fracking wastewater could prevent the alarming depletion of natural freshwater resources by providing an alternative source of recycled waterfor hydraulic fracturing purposes.

"Scarcity of freshwater 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 so alternative sources of recycled or marginal water such as acid mine drainage could significantly help solve the dilemma on freshwater depletion,"Vengosh said.

Vengosh and the rest of his team are looking forward to the next step of performing field-scale testing and prove the feasibility of using recycled and treated water for hydraulic fracturing operations.

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About the Author

Nicholas Papp

Nicholas Papp

Nicholas Papp has a B.S. in Physics, with Minors in Chemistry and Math, from Baldwin-Wallace College. He is the Vice President and General Manager of AQUA SOLUTIONS, INC., and has worked in the water filtration/purification industry for more than 35 years.