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US research team unveils frac-water purification project

19th September 2012

A team of US researchers finds way to reduce environmental risks posed by fracking

US research team unveils frac-water purification project
The National Science Foundation’s Partnerships for Innovation (NSF-PFI) program is funding the research through a USD 600,000 grant

A research team from the University of Minnesota is developing innovative biotechnology to purify fracking wastewater, it emerged on Tuesday. The project could reduce the environmental and health risks associated with the controversial hydraulic process.

The three scientists are using naturally-occurring bacteria embedded in porous silica materials to decontaminate the fracking wastewater, a technology initially developed to remove agricultural pesticides from soil and water, the University of Minnesota said in a press release.

The National Science Foundation’s Partnerships for Innovation (NSF-PFI) program is funding the research through a USD 600,000 grant.  If the project is successful, the team will be eligible for additional NSF funding.

Fracking relies on pressurised fluids to create fractures deep in the earth, through which natural gas and oil will escape. Wastewater returns to the surface where it is treated and released into surface water, injected back into the earth, or recycled for use for fracking of other wells.

The team will also work with Tundra Companies of White Bear Lake, Minn. on silica encapsulation technologies, and with Luca Technologies of Boulder, Colo. on using encapsulated microbes to recover natural gas from depleted coal beds.

 

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