fracking water analysis I am pleased to feature two recent resources, one using ion chromatography and the other usingInductively Coupled Plasma–Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) for the analysis of Marcellus Shale fracking flowback water samples. By the way, did you know that fracking fluid contains approximately 85% water and 13% sand (proppant), the latter to prop open cracks, which facilitates the flow of gas? The remaining 2% consists of chemical additives, such as friction reducers, anti-bacterial agents, and corrosion inhibitors. As per the U.S. EPA, over a 100 compounds can be found in fracking fluid!

The challenges for this type of analysis are stated extremely well in the introduction of the webinar, “The slickwater stimulation of unconventional gas and oil shale creates flowback water with a composition unique to the Marcellus Shale formation. Characteristically, these fluids contain high concentrations of salts (e.g., chloride and bromide) as well as a suite of other elements (e.g., strontium, barium, arsenic, and uranium) that increase in concentration over time. Monitoring these changes requires analysis of multiple sample sets from the same well. In addition, monitoring drinking water wells in areas with shale gas development has resulted in a concomitant need for routine water analysis.”

Onto the resources: a technical note and an on-demand webinar.

Technical Note 139: Determination of Anions in Fracking Flowback Water From the Marcellus Shale Using Automated Dilution and Ion Chromatography

Technical Note 139, (click the title above to download the PDF), describes the use of in-line conductivity measurement to trigger automated dilution before separating and quantifying inorganic ions and organic acids in Marcellus Shale fracking flowback samples using ion chromatography.

This is to address the challenge of analyzing the high levels of dissolved salts that leach from bedrock into the fracking water. Typically, injecting high ionic strength solutions can exceed the capacity of columns used in ion chromatography thereby resulting in poor chromatography, peak suppression, and inaccurate reporting.

Hence, the method described in Technical Note 139 uses an in-line conductivity measurement to trigger automated dilution as a viable technique to load less sample. Page 2 of the technical note includes a flow diagram showing various automated sample analysis options you can use with our autosampler (Thermo Scientific Dionex AS-AP Autosampler) and the AutoDilution feature of our Chromatography Data System (CDS) software (Thermo Scientific Dionex Chromeleon CDS software).

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For the method development, one of our integrated ion chromatography systems (Thermo Scientific Dionex ICS-2100 Integrated RFIC system) was used along with one of our anion-exchange ion chromatography columns (Thermo Scientific Dionex IonPac AS18 column) with suppressed conductivity detection provided by one of our suppressors (Thermo Scientific Dionex ASRS 300 Anion Self-Regenerating Suppressor).

On-Demand Webinar: Analysis of Flowback Water from Marcellus Unconventional Gas Extraction Using ICP-OES

In the webinar, one of our our experts plus John Stolz, Director at The Center for Environmental Research and Education & Professor of Biological Sciences, Duquesne University, discussed whether slickwater stimulation and associated activities (e.g., recycling of produced water in open impoundments) for natural gas extraction from the Marcellus Shale can impact water quality.

In addition, they covered the analysis of flowback samples from the initial stages (0–5,000 barrels) to later stages using both Optical Emission Spectroscopy (OES) and ICP-MS in an attempt to see if OES could be an alternative to using ICP-MS for the analysis of flowback water.

Click the link above to view the webinar on-demand; you will need to fill out a short registration page.

A short Q&A session is recorded in the webinar, but if your question was answered, do enter it in the Comments box below; our experts will be pleased to hear from you!