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Research institute develops technology to reuse oil and gas byproducts

19th May 2014

A team of clean energy researchers at the University of British Columbia in Canada has received a USD 540,000 grant to commercialise a new technology that converts excess carbon dioxide and wastewater from the oil and gas sector into reusable water and valuable chemicals

Research institute develops technology to reuse oil and gas byproducts
The technique uses an advanced low-energy dialysis system that employs excess carbon dioxide to desalinate industrial wastewater

This development could serve the dual purpose of reducing global carbon dioxide emissions and addressing the issue of decreasing global water reserves.

“A lot of technologies look at these issues as two separate problems but we are simultaneously addressing both of them,” says David Wilkinson, a professor of chemical and biological engineering and a member of the Clean Energy Research Centre.

The technique uses an advanced low-energy dialysis system that employs excess carbon dioxide to desalinate industrial wastewater, generating water that can be reused and chemicals such as acids and carbonate salts that have industrial applications. Its carbon footprint is smaller than conventional desalination technology.

A major market is the growing oil and gas industry. In Alberta, wide-scale adoption of their method would remove several megatons of carbon dioxide and conserve several billion litres of water every year, says Wilkinson

“Water management is one of the major issues facing unconventional oil and gas developments,” says Jean-Michel Gires, Chrysalix EVC Venture partner and former CEO Total E&P Canada. ”This is why water management innovation is very welcome to provide better and more sustainable solutions to these issues.”

Wilkinson’s innovation could be used in any jurisdiction where salty water and waste carbon dioxide are present.

The research, which was led by Wilkinson with team members Arman Bonakdarpour, Alfred Lam and PhD Candidate Saad Dara in collaboration with SFU Professor Steven Holdcroft, received $500,000 in funding from the Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation (CCEMC). The project was one of the 24 winners selected from more than 340 submissions from around the world.

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