gc analysis of fracking gasesI am pleased to present a recently developed, simple, reliable and robust gas chromatography method for identifying and quantifying methane, ethane, ethylene, and propane in environmental waters affected by hydraulic fracturing operations. (In case you are interested in this subject, the last post on this topic was in September and was titled,Ion Chromatography Speeds Hydraulic Fracturing Wastewater Analysis.)

As some of you may know, fracking has become a controversial issue as the gases liberated by fracking may contaminate water reservoirs. The result is that fracking is much in the news and brings up passionate opinions for the pros and cons, and can make for confusing reading. In the last 24 hours alone, I read the following stories:

I learnt this interesting bit from the application featured in this post. Did you know that in the United States, the U.S. Congress has instructed the U.S. EPA not not to regulate hydraulic fracturing and, hence, some individual states are developing their own regulations. Recently, several states finalized analysis requirements for baseline environmental monitoring of waters prior to hydraulic fracturing. This baseline monitoring aims to identify local water contaminants so that changes can be assessed post hydraulic fracturing to conclusively demonstrate that hydraulic fracturing alone (and not another process, such as mining) was responsible for detrimental impacts on the water. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has performed several studies on the quality of well water in states where hydraulic fracturing is used (link to downloadable PDF on studies).

Application Note 10405, Rapid and Reliable Detection of Dissolved Gases in Water, (downloadable PDF), describes the use of one of our gas chromatographs (Thermo Scientific TRACE 1310 Gas Chromatograph) equipped with an autosampler (Thermo Scientific TriPlus 300 Headspace Autosampler) and an electron flame ionization detector (FID) to detect various levels of dissolved gases in water samples in less than 6 mins.

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The sample preparation for the method is simple and direct and the method can be used to detect and quantitate low and high levels of dissolved gases in water samples, making it an excellent option for testing possible impacts of hydraulic fracturing as well as gases in water from surface, non-well stimulated sources.

Additional Resources

  • Our 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.