OriginOil technology recovers 98 percent of HCs in fracking water

By OriginOil Inc. | April 25, 2012

OriginOil Inc., developer of technology to convert algae into renewable crude oil, announced that in recent independent third-party testing, OriginOil's algae harvesting process was able to remove 98 percent of hydrocarbons from a sample of West Texas oil well frac flowback water in the first stage alone. The results point to a potentially valuable application of the company's core water processing technology, originally invented for algae harvesting.

Frac flowback describes water used in a drilling process called hydraulic fracturing or fracking. This test sample was taken from an oil well from which 200,000 gallons of oil-rich water flowed back over a period of two weeks. The water resources firm PACE Engineering supplied the sample and analyzed the results shown in the accompanying photo.

"The test results surpassed what we expected of OriginOil when we sent them the sample," said Andrew Komor , vice president for environmental water at PACE Engineering. "The first pass results showed not 70 to 75 percent removal of hydrocarbons as is typical of current technology, but 98 percent. We realized then that this could be a game-changer for the oil and gas industry."

Riggs Eckelberry, CEO of OriginOil, commented, "Oil well water cleanup is a multistage process. We work at the first stage to break the emulsion and quickly remove nearly all of the petroleum without chemicals. We could contribute to the economical reuse of oil well water, a win for the industry and the environment."

"We intend to aggressively explore oil and gas licensing opportunities while staying the course in algae harvesting," Eckelberry added.

The photo depicts samples of the three stages in which OriginOil first removed over 98 percent of hydrocarbons and other organics (measured by chemical oxygen demand or COD) in the first stage, and clarified the sample in the final stage, eliminating color (PtCo CU) by 99.8 percent.

Water is produced and used in large quantities in oil and gas operations. According to the U.S. DOE, an average of 3 barrels of contaminated water is generated for each 1 barrel of oil produced. In the United States, the average is 7 barrels of water. Greentech Media reports that energy companies pay between $3 and $12 to dispose of each barrel of produced water, implying a potential world market value between $300 billion and $1 trillion per year.

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