Oil and gas production requires copious amounts of water and energy. As fossil fuels continue to dominate the world energy mix, higher regulatory standards and a social license to operate challenge the industry to find new and improved ways to enhance productivity while minimizing the impact on the environment.
An advanced dialysis technology developed at UBC addresses the critical environmental challenges of excess carbon dioxide and wastewater in the oil and gas sector by converting these inputs into valuable chemicals and desalinated water for reuse.
The UBC research team led by Professor David Wilkinson (who is also a RES'EAU-WaterNET investigator, pictured third from left) with team members Dr. Arman Bonakdarpour, Dr. Alfred Lam and PhD Candidate Saad Dara in collaboration with SFU’s Professor Steven Holdcroft, received $500,000 in funding from the Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation (CCEMC) to further the new technology towards commercialization. The project was one of 20 finalists chosen from over 344 international submissions.
The UBC solution is a simple modular system that works by using ion-selective membranes to facilitate ion movement under an electric and chemical concentration difference to generate its products.
Unlike existing desalination technologies, such as evaporation and reverse osmosis where the only output is desalinated water, the low-energy dialysis innovation desalinates waterandsignificantly reduces the carbon footprint by producing valuable chemicals from waste CO2on site.
The CCEMC funding will be used to demonstrate efficacy with model and customer wastewater and demonstrate a scaled up commercial-sized dialysis cell. At commercialization the novel system is anticipated to reduce carbon dioxide in excess of 1 M tons per year—the equivalent of 200,000 cars; and reduce fresh water use in excess of 2B liters per year—a savings of over 800-Olympic sized-swimming pools for tight oil and shale gas extraction in Alberta.
The system has the potential for use in any jurisdiction where brine and waste carbon dioxide are present.