Produced Water Management

NETL efforts focus on improving knowledge of produced water volumes and compositions, and evaluating the influences of different treatment processes on management of produced liquid and solid wastes.

Leads to improved ability to manage produced waters and waste products:

  • Changes to produced water chemistry under different treatment scenarios
  • Composition and reactivity of solid wastes (drill cuttings and water treatment residue)
  • Models to predict composition and volumes of produced waters
  • Laboratory experiments to aid in predicting produced water composition
produced water
Changes in water chemistry observed in an open produced water pond before and after aeration treatment. Conductivity
becomes uniform across the pond after aeration treatment, and the system becomes oxidizing.


Treatment and disposal (or reuse) of produced water is a major issue for hydraulically-fractured shale reservoirs (300,000 to 800,000 gallons per well drilled)

Solution: NETL is developing knowledge of how chemical, biological, and physical factors affect produced water composition under different reservoir management and surface treatment scenarios as input for improved management strategies

Solid wastes (drill cuttings and water treatment residues) need to be disposed of appropriately to avoid environmental problems

Solution: NETL is performing laboratory experiments to evaluate the potential for contaminant release from waste solids under different environmental scenarios

Limited ability to predict the volumes and composition of produced waters from shale gas operations

Solution: NETL is developing a systems-level predictive model for estimating the volumes and composition of produced waters for a shale gas basin
produced water