hydraulic fracturing wastewater analysisDid you know that hydraulic fracturing (also called fracking) has been used in the United States since the late 1940s and it is estimated that there are over one million wells hydraulically fractured in the last 60 years in the U.S.? (Source & link EnergyFromShale). In addition, fracking has seen a profound growth due to new capabilities that permit recovery of oil and natural gas from previously inaccessible deposits.

Here, I am pleased to present two recently released ion chromatography resources, an application note and a solutions brochure, on the analysis of ions in fracking wastewater so that the wastewater can treated and reused appropriately. Typically, hydraulic fracturing fluid is composed of liquid that is approximately 99% water and the rest chemical additives. Sand is also added to act as a proppant to keep open the cracks that are formed, thereby facilitating the recovery of oil and gas. Image is of a hydraulic fracturing wastewater holding pond.

Application Note 1094, Determination of Cations in Hydraulic Fracturing Flowback Water from the Marcellus Shale, (downloadable PDF), describes the quantification of cations in hydraulic fracturing flowback water from Marcellus Shale using one of our high-pressure reagent-free ion chromatography systems (Thermo Scientific Dionex ICS-5000+ Reagent-Free HPIC system) with standard bore and capillary cation columns (Thermo Scientific Dionex IonPac CS16 standard bore [5 mm i.d.] and capillary [0.5 mm i.d.] columns). All the cations of interest were eluted within 32 min. The most abundant analyte was sodium, followed by calcium, strontium, magnesium, potassium, barium, ammonium, and lithium.

The other interesting finding was that as increasing amounts of flowback wastewater are returned to the surface, the level of ions also increases and the longer the fracking fluid is in contact with the shale layer, the more salt is mobilized into the flowback water.

Like what you are learning?

Sign up to stay connected with all Thermo Scientific resources, applications, blog posts and promotions.
Keep Me Informed!

Note that this application can be performed on any Dionex ion chromatography system capable of eluent generation.

And, do check out this solutions brochure,Hydraulic fracturing wastewater analysis Reagent-Free Ion Chromatography, (downloadable PDF) providing an overview on fracking, determination of anions, organic acids, and cations, sample preparation, and ion chromatography innovations that speed up analysis.


Additional Resources

  • Our recently released Chromatography Solution Online Center features many useful and complimentary chromatography tools which can help speed up your analysis. The site is updated on a monthly basis; therefore, do check out the Archives section to see what was previously featured.

If you have questions on the method or system, do enter them in the Comments box below; our experts look forward to hearing from you.