Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, in which natural gas and oil is extracted by blasting large amounts of water and chemicals under high pressure into underground shale rock formations is back in the news with this recent Duke University study that found that “methane concentrations were six times higher and ethane concentrations were 23 times higher at homes within a kilometer of a shale gas well.” (Link to story.)
And, when I received notification of a newly released white paper on fracking and the use of our ion chromatography systems for monitoring anions and organic acids in fracking flowback waters, I thought it would be a good read for our blog followers. By the way, from another thoughtful read–why fracking poses a risk to the United States water supply (link to article)–I learnt a couple of interesting facts. One, about half the fracking water gushes back up to the surface and contains not just the chemicals it initially included but also picks up additional contaminants, such as metals and radioisotopes. And two, that even though the residual fracking water remains much below ground water, the geological formations are not airtight thus leading to leaching of fracking water into drinking water or, worse, failure of fracking wells.
Our White Paper 70693,The Importance of Anion and Organic Acid Determinations in Fracking Wastewater by Ion Chromatography, (downloadable PDF), discusses the importance of detectingchloride and bromide in wastewaters that have received fracking water plus the monitoring of organic acids added to control the pH of water but turn out to be ideal sources of carbon for bacterial growth. As those in the water testing business are aware, chloride and bromide can form toxic disinfection-byproducts during water treatment.
Almost any of our ion chromatography systems (Thermo Scientific Dionex ICS-5000+, Dionex ICS-2100, Dionex ICS-1600, or Dionex ICS-1100 systems) can be set up for the simultaneously monitoring of anions and organic acids using suppressed conductivity. The white paper shows two examples for anion detection using one of our anion-exchange columns (Thermo Scientific Dionex IonPac AS18 Anion-Exchange column) very suited for compliance monitoring of inorganic anions in drinking water and wastewater samples in accordance with US EPA Methods 300.0 (A) and 300.1. The example for organic acid analysis uses one of our ion-exclusion columns (Thermo Scientific Dionex IonPac ICE-AS6 Ion-Exclusion column) designed for the fast analysis of organic acids in complex matrices.
Like what you are learning?
For more on chromatography solutions for fracking, you might be in interesting in reading an earlier post on fracking on this blog, titled, Ion Chromatography Solutions for Bromide and Sulfate in Fracking plus viewing this on-demand one-hour webinar, titled,Anions and Metals Analysis in Hydraulic Fracturing Waters from Marcellus Shale Drilling Operations (link to registration page for webinar).
And, last but not least, the U.S. EPA has released an update on its ongoing study, Study of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources, (link to study webpage on U.S. EPA site) which might also be of interest to you.
The image accompanying this blog post is of a shale rock.
Do let us know if you have questions on this white paper by using the Comments box below. Our application chemists will be pleased to hear from you.