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IX Power Clean Water, a company based in Albuquerque, has acquired the patent rights to OrganiClear from Los Alamos National Laboratory and begun commercialization of the technology to filter and destroy organic hydrocarbons in “produced water” without creating an additional waste stream.
IX Power Clean Water’s “OrganiClear” cleans organic hydrocarbons – BTEX – from produced water from oil and gas, mining operations, and industrial processes.
Produced water is a term to describe water extracted from the earth along with oil and gas. The water produced may include water from the fossil fuel reservoir, water injected into the formation (including the high pressure water used to fracture the rock formation—“fracking”), and chemicals added during production and well treatment processes.
The OrganiClear machine cleans water to the point that it can be safely used for agriculture and livestock and, with additional processes, can also be used for community water systems.
“OrganiClear will change how the world manages produced water from the oil & gas industry, mining industry, and in manufacturing,” IX PCW CEO John R. Grizz Deal said. “As part of an operation’s water treatment train, OrganiClear not only separates the dangerous organic hydrocarbons, it destroys them while creating no additional waste stream. While other existing processes for cleaning produced water leave piles of toxic consumables that then must also be disposed of, OrganiClear effectively “eats” the toxins leaving nothing behind for additional handling.”
Last year, IX Power LLC and LANL signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the laboratory for commercializing new water and energy technologies.
“Our laboratory is proud to begin a partnership with IX Power,” Los Alamos Technology Transfer Division Leader David Pesiri said last year.
“This is a team with a strong track record in the business world and a demonstrated talent for building value from national laboratory technologies. Our team is particularly pleased with this company’s emphasis on domestic technology solutions in the areas of water, power grid and alternative energy,” Pesiri said.
The major constituents of produced water are salt, oil, grease, and various other natural inorganic and organic compounds, chemical additives used in drilling and fracking, and naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM).
BTEX is one set of compounds of organic hydrocarbons of major concern. BTEX is an acronym that stands for Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene, and Xylenes, which are all closely related. These compounds are soluble in water so produced water from the extraction of crude oil is always contaminated with these compounds.
BTEX is extremely toxic and dangerous to humans, animals, crops, and natural vegetation. Benzene is carcinogenic while Toluene, Ethylbenzene, and Xylenes have harmful effects on the central nervous system. Frequently found together, the BTEX compounds can cause illness, birth defects, eventual death—and even immediate death if highly concentrated.
Thus far, the oil and gas industry worldwide has generally dealt with produced water by subsurface disposal, disposal on the surface (in ponds), and by cleaning it to a degree that it can be re-used in oil and gas extraction processes. Some operations have cleaned it to the point that it can be used for irrigation, although without the OrganiClear technology, that process is costly. Less scrupulous operators, usually in evolving economies without strict environmental regulations, release their produced water where it pollutes aquifers, rivers, and the ocean.
“This is a global environmental issue,” said Deal, “because for each barrel of oil recovered, five to 40 times as much water is produced, creating the adage that ‘oil recovery is really water recovery with a bit of oil thrown in.’ Worldwide, the volume of produced water generated each year exceeds 70 billion barrels (1 bbl = 42 U.S. gallons), with 20 billion barrels generated in the U.S. alone.
This equates to nearly 200 million barrels of produced water each and every day; enough water to flow over Niagara Falls for three months.”
Produced water accounts for 98 percent of the waste products in the oil and gas industry.
Each year in order to comply with local, state, provincial, and federal environmental laws, oil and gas companies spend an estimated $40 billion cleaning and/or disposing of produced water.
Costs include transportation, pre-treatment, re-injection, and desalination, and vary widely depending upon the water’s properties, volume, and geographic location. Typical handling costs range from $2 to $10 per barrel of water, and can run as high as $15 per barrel.
The cost to eliminate “everything but TDS*” using OrganiClear in produced water ranges from $0.28 to $0.50 per barrel.
“So, why not clean it for beneficial use or recycle it for reuse?” Deal said. “When millions of people around the globe suffer from water and subsequent food scarcity, we need to clean as much produced water as possible and turn it into ‘found’ water.”