analysis of fracking waterI have written about our ion chromatography solutions for fracking in earlier posts (listed below) but while reading about some water analysis applications on our website, I came across a really interesting white paper on the analysis of bromide in fracking water that I am pleased to feature in this blog post. I am sure you have following the debate on the safety of fracking around the globe; just recently scientists in the province of Nova Scotia in Canada being the latest to weigh in by calling in for a 10-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (link to news story).

According to theU.S. EPA, hydraulic fracturing has resulted in increased salts, chloride, bromide, and sulfate in ground and surface waters. The presence of increased bromide in water can lead to the formation of increased disinfection byproducts, namely bromate and trihalomethanes (THMs). Bromate is typically formed during the ozonation of water containing bromide, while THMs are formed during chlorination. The presence of bromide can lead to increased brominated THMs which are inherently more toxic.

Results presented at the 2011 Water Quality Technology Conference (WQTC) reported increased forms of brominated THMs from locations in the Alleghany River (USA) known to be impacted by water from hydraulic fracturing activity and where feedback waters are taken to water treatment plants for treatment but these treatment plants are not designed to minimize the contaminants from hydraulic fracturing solutions. According to the U.S. EPA, over 100 compounds can be found in hydraulic fracturing solutions injected into the ground, and the US EPA has drafted a study plan (link to webpage on study) to understand the potential effects of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water sources. The study is expected to be released sometime this year for public comment.

White Paper 70784, Bromide Analysis for Hydraulic Fracturing, (downloading PDF), presents the benefits of the solution of using a reagent-free, two-dimensional ion chromatography (2D-IC) with suppressed conductivity to monitor bromide and other common anions in water. This solution provides the following benefits: it does not produce toxic reagents, it can be used in high salt samples, and provides higher sensitivity analysis of bromate. In the method demonstrated in the white paper, bromate and bromide were separated in less than 16 mins and 11 anions were separated in less than 30 mins.

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One of our hydroxide-selective, anion-exchange columns (Themo Scientific Dionex IonPac AS19 Hydroxide Selective Anion Exchange Column) was used for the experiment. Note that this column has been specifically designed for the analysis of trace bromate in drinking water.

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 methods or systems, do enter them in the Comments box below; our experts look forward to hearing from you.