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Rational Design of Solar-Energy-Combined Desalination Systems for Treatment of Produced Water

Seok-Jhin Kim, Dave McIlroy, David Lampert, and Clint Aichele

The treatment of PW presents a complex engineering problem as its composition is dependent upon local geology and requires removal of many classes of contaminants including suspended solids, naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM), dissolved solids, and hydrocarbons. Therefore, the utilization of membranes for treatment of complex contaminants found in PW requires further research. Ceramic membrane technologies appear particularly promising for the removal of dispersed oil and grease and reductions in salinity. The team proposes to combine a membrane desalination system with solar thermal energy that is abundantly available and a viable alternative to fossil fuels. A solar evaporation technology is ideally suited for a pretreatment step that saves energy and minimize the membrane fouling.

Low-cost Ceramic Membranes for Ultra/Nanofiltration of Produced Water

Pankaj Sarin and Khaled Sallam

This project aims to develop low-cost ceramic membrane technology for produced water treatment. The proposed ceramic membranes will be processed using geopolymers, resulting in more than 90% savings in raw material costs, and at least two orders of magnitude reduction in the energy needed for production, when compared to currently used ceramic membranes. It is anticipated that with the developed ceramic membranes, it will be possible to remove oil, suspended solids, pesticides, carcinogenic hydrocarbons, microbes, and trace metals from produced water, and it will also reduce the total dissolved solids (TDS) to <3000 ppm.

The low-cost and effective PW treatment enabled through this research could transform produced water to near fresh water levels suitable for power generation (cooling), industrial use (including O&G), agriculture, along with the potential to be discharged for aquifer recharge; thereby making PW an added benefit rather than a liability. In addition to augmenting water supply, minimization of the need for reinjection will also reduce instances of induced seismic activity.

Understanding Economic Impacts of Groundwater and Soil Moisture Interactions in Oklahoma – A Decision-Support Tool for Sustainable Water Management

Jad R. Ziolkowska and Reuben Reyes

The main goals of this project are to: 1) improve understanding of groundwater and surface water interactions across all aquifers and climate regions in Oklahoma, and 2) evaluate and predict socio-economic repercussions of those interactions; and their correlations with drought events. To achieve these goals we will develop an interactive geospatial and temporal model that will also serve as a decision-support and educational tool.

This research is needed by stakeholders, policy makers, researchers, and educators due to extreme and exceptional droughts that have been occurring in Oklahoma for many decades with the record drought in 2011-2014.

Effects of Deficit Irrigation on Water Use of Warm Season Turfgrasses under Fairway Maintenance

Christopher Reid with Dr. Charles Fontanier

This research will contribute towards a better understanding of water use rates of warm season turfgrasses under drought stress and lead to improved recommendations for deficit irrigation practices. Further, the study will identify turfgrass cultivars showing superior drought resistance and adaption to the dry Oklahoma summers. Ultimately, increased use of deficit irrigation programs and well-adapted cultivars will result in less water used for golf and similar turfgrass sites.

Four-Step Produced Water Desalination Process with Zeolite and a-Alumina Membranes

Hossein D. Atoufi with Dr. David Lampert

Oil and gas production consumes and generates high volumes of water and wastewater, respectively. This wastewater, known as Produced Water (PW), has a high level of contamination with a complex chemical composition that depends on the recovery process and the geological formation. The most important components in PW are salts, oil & grease (O&G), benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene (BTEX), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), natural organic and inorganic compounds, etc. Salts cause problems in irrigation and create corrosion in materials such as metal pipes or concrete structures. Another problem that is crucial in Oklahoma is induced earthquakes caused by PW injection to disposal wells.

Beneficial Use of Petroleum Produced Water to Convert Crude Oil to Methane Gas in Depleted Oil Reservoirs

Babak Shabani with Drs. Javier Vilcáez and Mostafa Elshahed

In a previous research, the PI and Co-PIs proved the feasibility of stimulating the microbial conversion of crude oil (n-alkanes) to methane using produced water and crude oil collected from the Stillwater oilfield of Oklahoma. However, in that research, experiments were conducted at ambient pressure conditions using CO2 in the form of NaHCO3.

The present research project is to prove the feasibility of stimulating the activity of crude oil degrading and methanogenic microbial communities using supercritical CO2 instead of NaHCO3. As such, the findings of this research will lead to the development of an alternative way to make a beneficial use of not only petroleum produced water, but also CO2 emitted from power plants in Oklahoma.

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