Frac Water and Flow-back Water Treatment

Hoffland Environmental Inc. (HEI) has extensive experience in water and wastewater treatment that extends successfully into the area of hydraulic fracturing—hydraulic fracturing is an essential ingredient of Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) and Maximizing Natural Gas (MNG) production. Hydraulic fracturing jobs in the oil or gas patch often utilize 2 to 8 million gallons of water and, in light of today’s concern over assuring high-quality drinking water, the fracturing process is very environmentally sensitive.

In that light, HEI is now designing and building patented equipment systems in Conroe, Texas, especially for frac water systems. These are finding widespread applications in the oil and gas patch with a particular focus on recovering and treating highly saline concentrated flow-back brine. [This brine is often referred to as frac water]. Treating frac water is complicated because technology must address: (1) both organic and inorganic chemicals that are present, (2) physical characteristics of the brine, and (3) biological parameters plus (4) frac water systems must be able to handle extremely large volumes.

HEI engineers address all four of these parameters in the company’s Frac Water and Flow-back Water Treatment Systems. By integrating a technical approach to the water that must be treated—especially if the brine has a high salt concentration and also contains organic contaminants—HEI utilizes mass and material balances and thermal balances to optimize environmentally-sound treatment practices. Specifically, HEI designs water and wastewater equipment that can successfully treat frac water on-site. This often includes, clarifiers, screens and filters, anaerobic and/or aerobic digesters, membranes and oil-water separation systems. HEI is familiar with all materials used on a hydraulic-fracturing site—particularly those related to low-viscosity “slick water.” HEI provides a systems approach to handling both the liquids used in hydraulic fracturing and also the sand specification.

Besides considering the use of proppant sand [Ottawa (White) or Brady (Brown)], HEI points out that hydraulic fracturing must address all environmental issues related to enhanced recovery technology. This requires an understanding of reactions and mixing chemistry because the fracturing fluids utilize one or more of the following: acids, alcohols, anti-foam-agents, bases, biocides, breaker-aids, bubble-breakers, buffers, cakes, cellulosics, clay-stabilizers, corrosion-inhibitors, defoamers, demulsifiers, diverters, emulsifiers, foamers, gels (organic or inorganic), friction-reducers, iron-control-agents, oxygen-scavengers, pH-control-agents, polymers, solvents, surfactants and viscosity-stabilizers plus other chemicals, compounds, or additives. HEI chemists and chemical engineers are familiar with each of these agents, their stoichiometry and reactivity, and are able to match process technology to environmental friendly modes of treatment.

HEI has developed an economical systems approach to handling frac water in a way that addresses each pollution-control issue related to air, water and solid waste disposal. Custom designed systems have been provided for:

  • Suspended solids removal
  • Dissolved solids treatment
  • Aerobic treatment
  • Anaerobic treatment
  • Halogen removal
  • Produced water
  • Oil remediation
  • Sludge remediation
  • Salt reduction or recovery
  • Hydroxide precipitation
  • Sulfide precipitation

HEI is an employee-owned company that specializes in the design and manufacture of environmental remediation equipment. Applications include everything from fine particulates to toxic metals to volatile organic compounds. HEI custom designs, builds, installs and starts-up turn-key systems that are batch or continuous.

© Hoffland Environmental Inc, 2012