Above: Osorb laden with organics from produced water
|The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a 2012 SBIR IIB Grant of $497,404 to ABSMaterials, Inc., parent company of PWAbsorbents, Inc., to accelerate the commercial capacity to manufacture advanced materials for recycling produced, frac and flowback waters. The award will be ABS’s seventh award within a two-year period from either the NSF or the US Dept. of Energy.
ABSMaterials engineers Osorb® materials as a platform technology for water treatment applications. Previous breakthroughs in treating oil-field waters using Osorb allowed ABSMaterials to win a 2011 NSF SBIR II grant to build and field a pilot unit.
Demonstrations from 2011 and early 2012 have been highly successful, allowing the company to establish PWA as an oil and gas subsidiary. PWA has gained customers from the US and EU, as well as venture capital funding from leading investment firms Energy Ventures of Houston, TX and Harris and Harris Group, Inc. of NYC.
Jay Keener, the PWA program manager leading several field operations, explained, "Osorb glass systems give oil and gas production companies the capacity to recover nearly all dispersed or soluble hydrocarbons
|and operate closed loop water systems without disposal wastes."|The National Energy Technology Lab (NETL) and the Global Petroleum Research Institute (GPRI) have favorably covered these pilots with reports covered by industry magazines, including Rigzone, Oil and Gas Law Brief, Petroleum Economist and Chemical Engineering.
Dr. Stephen Jolly, VP of Systems and Engineering at ABS, is the principal researcher developing the advanced molecular Osorb materials used by the Oil and Gas customers. "This additional NSF funding will allow ABS to further advance techniques for Osorb manufacturing and refine our ability to maximize the pore-structures of the glass most desired by our oil field customers,” Jolly said.
ABS is a leading Ohio and National innovator, developing advanced glass materials to recover volatile organic molecules from water. Osorb reactive glass materials are being used in numerous industrial settings to clean waters impacted by industrial activities, including stormwater laden with pollutants, industrial water with trace refinery wastes and rare essence production waters with traces of highly valuable, but delicate molecules previously difficult to recover.
The company has won recognition in the form of the 2010 MIT and US Dept. of Energy Clean Energy Prize for Hydrocarbon Recovery, the 2011 Ohio Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneurial Company of the Year Award and the 2012 NorTech Regional Impact Award. ABS is also part of an emerging water technology cluster in Northeast Ohio that has been identified by NorTech. The emerging cluster consists of organizations developing water technology innovations for industrial applications. Sorbents, ABSMaterials’ primary area of expertise, has been identified as a key technology strength in Northeast Ohio.
"Our firm works in an increasingly integrated ecosystem of academic, government and industrial innovators working to bring novel solutions to global water problems. Water is unfortunately still taken for granted far too often,” said Stephen Spoonamore, CEO of ABS. “Our firm and the many we work with continue to advance technology solutions and bring new tools to the global water toolbox. I hope this NSF Award brings further attention to our region’s leadership role in building deep and lasting innovations in water technology."
ABSMaterials, Inc. is dedicated to applying advances in 21st century materials science to the challenges created by 20th century industrial processes and chemistry. The company’s advanced water treatment systems use patented Osorb® absorbent glass materials to remediate oils, solvents, and other VOCs in water without negative environmental effects. Founded in December 2008, ABSMaterials is a privately held company headquartered in Wooster, OH.
Ohio Governor John Kasich signed Senate Bill 315 in Akron yesterday, another step toward setting national precedence for regulations on natural gas drilling in the state. The energy bill will "protect the environment as energy companies begin drilling in the Utica formation deep underground in eastern Ohio," according to the Akron Beacon Journal
, and it involves limitations to well construction as well as requires companies to disclose the water and chemicals used in drilling.
Energy companies engaged in natural gas drilling will be required to test drinking water wells within a 1,500 foot radius of drill sites, three times the previous requirement. The source of all fresh water used must also be disclosed to state officials.
The new bill was signed just a few days after state officials announced a moritorium on water sales from the Muskingum Watershed
, which will make fresh water sales in the state increasingly more competitive. The moratorium, in combination with the new requirements for fresh water usage disclosure and well testing, are making water recycling the cheapest and most compliant option for drillers in contrast with brine disposal.
PWA is developing new solutions for waste water recycling that are even more efficient than their predecessors, including both mobile and fixed units. These units utilize regenerative Osorb®
material, allowing drillers to create closed loop systems to recycle frac-water, recover >99% of organics, and cut op-ex costs.
By 2015, the EPA will require all hydraulic fracturing operations to conform to "green completion" rules to protect the air from pollution created when wells are tapped. Oil and gas companies will have to capture the chemicals that would otherwise be released into the air, and until the new rule takes full effect, drillers must flare their emissions. Currently, about half of all wells are already either flaring their emissions or using green completions. As a result of the regulation, which was initiated following a Clean Air Act lawsuit, the EPA estimates that air emissions at well sites will be slashed 95% over the next three years. These emissions normally include carcinogenic solvents, methane, and VOCs that react with sunlight to create smog. The phase-in approach to the new regulation is partly due to the need for green completion technologies to become widely available and to be installed at sites. These sites include roughly 11,000 new fracturing wells that are drilled each year, plus over a thousand that are re-fracked (for a total of about 13,000), creating a large demand for such technologies. In the meantime, companies that use green completions to re-frack will not be subject to permitting requirements.
This is an important first step to make sure natural gas is harvested in the safest and cleanest way possible. Green completion has benefits to both consumers, whose health will be protected by the EPA's directive, and to gas companies that can collect the captured materials that have a commercial value as a product, such as methane.
PWA can also capture some of these compounds when they are in their liquid state while pitted, so less water needs to be sent for disposal and fewer compounds need to be sent to a flare stack or air capture system. Plus, fewer solvents such as benzene and toluene escape prior to treatment, helping our clients to comply with EPA emissions rules and leaving just clean water for evaporation into the atmosphere.
Today is the second anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil platform explosion, which sent millions of barrels of oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico. Not only did the explosion kill 11 men and injure 17 others, the resulting spill devastated ecosystems in the Gulf. It was the largest marine oil spill of all time, lasting three months and releasing nearly 5 million barrels of crude oil.
We hope you’ll join us in taking a moment of silence for the ecosystems and families that were impacted by Deepwater Horizon, and also in remembering that preventive practices are key at oil and gas operations sites. This means that not only should machinery be appropriately operated and maintained, but also that all chemicals, brine, and other materials should be handled with great care. Being diligent about these practices can prevent accidents that endanger workers, families, and the environment.
Be safe out there!
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has concluded that the Northstar 1 Class II injection well near Youngstown was the cause of a dozen earthquakes in Northeast Ohio last year. As a result, officials have tightened the regulations surrounding frac-water injections, making Ohio's waste water laws some of the most stringent in the nation.
Among other new rules, parties wishing to inject brine deep underground will be required to submit complete geological data, electronically monitor injected materials, and install automatic shut-off systems. Injection wells will also be banned in Precambrian rock, the fault-laced basement layer in which the Northstar I well was embedded.
The new rules will not only impact the oil and gas industry in Ohio, but also neighboring Pennsylvania, since millions of barrels of brine are trucked over the state line to be disposed in Ohio each year. Pennsylvania currently only has 6 deep injection wells, whereas Ohio has 177.
Ohio's new regulations will make injection wells much more costly, especially since developers may need to hire experts to complete missing geological data before injecting. Many entities still consider Class II wells to be the safest method of disposal, but waste water recycling is quickly displacing wells as the new best management practice for the 21st century. PWAbsorbents' Osorb® systems
for flowback water recycling are a safer, cleaner, more economical alternative for oil and gas developers.
Above: PWAbsorbents' systems use Osorb® to separate contaminants like these from water so they can be properly disposed and the water reused. These captured compounds have just been separated from Osorb using our Regen Unit.
During his State of the Union address to the nation Tuesday, President Barack Obama discussed the growing market for domestic shale gas, saying that America must "safely develop" natural gas energy "without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk."
He noted that American oil production is higher than it has been in over eight years, and the boom will "create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don't have to choose between our environment and our economy." An excerpt from the speech is below.
|We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly one hundred years, and my Administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy. Experts believe this will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade. And I’m requiring all companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals they use. America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk. The development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don’t have to choose between our environment and our economy. And by the way, it was public research dollars, over the course of thirty years, that helped develop the technologies to extract all this natural gas out of shale rock – reminding us that Government support is critical in helping businesses get new energy ideas off the ground.|
We agree that health and safety must be a priority. PWAbsorbents is working on the solutions to make natural gas drilling cheaper, cleaner, and ultimately safer. We are continually working to raise best management practices for the handling and treatment of oil and gas waters. That means that not only do we remove the chemicals from flowback waste water as an alternative to expensive and unsafe underground disposal wells, we are also working to create closed-loop systems for water recycling so that oil and gas companies do not need to use billions of gallons of new water for future drilling.
Read the complete 2012 State of the Union address transcript or watch the video footage at WhiteHouse.gov.
Jay Keener, Program Manager of PW Systems, will speak at next weeks Produced Water Seminar in Houston, TX. The event will take place at the Nassau Bay Hilton in from January 17-19. Keener is presenting his paper, "Update on the Osorb Solubles Removal Systems and the Correlating Data Gathered." He is one of 28 authors
presenting a paper at this annual seminar on topics related to produced water.
Keener will be joined by Shawn McKee, PWA Director of Operations and Logistics, at the seminar. To schedule a meeting, call 330-234-7661.
The shale gas boom in Northeast Ohio has created a demand for seamless steel pipes, re-opening the door for Youngstown, Ohio's steel industry, which has been defunct for 34 years, says an article in Bloomberg Business Week ("Gas Boom Has Youngstown Making Steel Again"
). V&M Star will open a brand new, $65 Million steel mill in order to meet the growing demand, creating 350 new jobs.
The article also cited a study that calculated a potential for 200,000 new jobs and $22 billion economic output in Ohio by 2015 due to increasing steel demand. Meanwhile, states across the country are working to increase the number of jobs related to hydraulic fracturing in order to maximize the potential of the shale gas economic boom. For example, government officials in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia are courting Royal Dutch Shell, who is planning to construct a new processing plant in one of the three states, which would create more business and more jobs.
This news follows the announcement that regulators have placed a moratorium on injection wells
near Youngstown used to dispose of frac-water due to recent earthquakes. It seems likely that, for the shale gas boom to continue its regional growth, frac-water recycling will become a priority.
PWAbsorbents, Inc. is actively working on shale gas sites in the region to recycle frac-flowback water, and we would welcome the opportunity to work with other companies who are joining in the local shale gas industry's growth. Read more about PWA's water recycling solutions
Regulators in Ohio called a moratorium on underground frac-water injections within five miles of a well in Youngstown, OH on Saturday, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article ("Ohio Shuts Wells Following Quakes"). The order followed two earthquakes in the area in late December, which officials feared might be linked to a nearby injection well belonging to D&L Energy.
The state is currently conducting tests to determine if the well can be officially linked to the two December earthquakes, which respectively reached 2.7 and 4.0 on the Richter scale. The Wall Street Journal noted that a Southern Methodist University study from 2010 previously linked injection wells to earthquakes in the Dallas-Forth Worth region.
PWAbsorbents is anxiously awaiting results from these tests, which will determine how safe it is for oil and gas companies to inject contaminant-laden drilling fluids deep underground. D&L's Youngstown well is one of only 194 in the state, so the results will likely have a big impact on the way frac-water is handled in Ohio in the future.
In the meantime, PWA is using advanced Osorb systems
to treat contaminated flowback water at hydraulic fracturing sites in order to create safe water recycling. Injection wells can be a useful method of disposal, but water recycling is ultimately a cleaner, safer alternative without seismic side effects.