Every year in the U.S., a whopping 20 billion barrels of water are generated as a byproduct of domestic oil and gas recovery, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Safe and environmentally responsible management of this “produced water” is important to energy companies, farmers, ecosystems and everyday people whose drinking water comes from associated aquifers. Now, a joint research effort founded by the University of Kansas and West Virginia University—funded by a new $4 million grant from the National Science Foundation—aims to develop cutting-edge strategies for better management, treatment, protection and recovery of produced water. The scientists behind the work hope to establish a permanent center focused on research-proven best practices for handling produced water nationwide.
“Obviously, we need energy,” said Edward Peltier, KU associate professor of civil, environmental and architectural engineering, who is the primary investigator of the new project. “We use energy resources every day, and we’ll continue to use them. That means the better job we do producing energy in an efficient, clean manner—and not affecting other resources like water quality—the better off we are.”