By Andy Szal
Researchers from the University of Colorado have developed technology they say could cleanse wastewater from oil and natural gas drilling sites while simultaneously generating additional energy.
Critics of the recent boom in hydraulic fracturing operations in the U.S. raised concerns environmental concerns from oil spills to small earthquakes, but wastewater discharged from those sites could also have harmful effects.
The substance, called brine, contains high levels of salt and toxic organic compounds that could impact local water supplies if not properly contained. Earlier this year, for example, nearly 3 million gallons of brine leaked from a North Dakota pipeline and contaminated two nearby creeks.
Colorado engineers, however, reported in the journal Environmental Science Water Research & Technology that a process called microbial capacitive desalination could resolve some wastewater concerns.
Their system enables microbes to feed on the organic contaminants in brine as they generate an electrical current. The system then operates essentially as a battery, with current extracting dissolved salt from the water.Read more