Battelle is currently working on a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) sponsored initiative to optimize its HydroFlex™ water purification technology to treat acid mine drainage water for the purpose of supplying non-potable water for use in hydraulic fracturing (HF) activities. The need for a novel technology to remediate and repurpose a non-potable water source to meet requirements for HF applications has become apparent with the persistent pressure on public water resources and increased drought conditions in the US. Around 5 million gallons of fresh water can be required for well injection for unconventional resource extraction. With the increasing demand each year on the public water system and the unconventional gas industry's continued focus on reducing their environmental footprint, the need for a commercial technology which reduces the consumption of potable water is pertinent to the continued success of unconventional resource development.
Acid mine drainage (AMD) is an abundant source of marginal water that is frequently disregarded as a water source for HF. As the US looks to the future of energy with unconventional resource development, the legacy of pollution from past resource extraction is noted with AMD. AMD is formed by a natural process that generates sulfates and metals in solution in almost any case where large volumes of earth or rock are disturbed. It is especially prevalent in areas of coal and mineral mining, and the highly contaminated drainage can continue for centuries after mining production is discontinued. In Pennsylvania alone, 300 million gallons of AMD enters local streams and rivers each day, affecting more than 5,500 miles of waterways.