Filter removes almost all bacteria from contaminated water, research suggests
28 Sep 2017
A filter developed by researchers at Swansea University is designed to remove more than 90% of hydrocarbons, bacteria and particulates from contaminated fracking water.
The researchers, which included a team from Rice University in the US, turned a ceramic membrane with microscale pores into a superhydrophilic filter that they claim “essentially eliminates” fouling.
A full account of the research has been published in journal Scientific Reports.
According to the researchers, the filter stops emulsified hydrocarbons from passing through the material’s ionically charged pores, which are about one-fifth of a micron wide – small enough that other contaminants also cannot pass through.
The charge attracts a thin layer of water that adheres to the entire surface of the filter to repel globules of oil and other hydrocarbons and keep it from clogging, the researchers said.
A fracking well typically uses more than five million gallons of water, of which only 10 to 15% is recovered during the flow back stage, said lead researcher Andrew Barron, who added: “This makes it very important to be able to re-use this water.”
Barron said that as his team’s membrane doesn’t foul, it lasts. “It requires lower operating pressures, so you need a smaller pump that consumes less electricity. And that’s all better for the environment.”
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