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OriginOil Technology recovers 98 percent of hydrocarbons in oil and gas production water

This photo depicts samples of the three stages in which OriginOil first removed over 98 percent of hydrocarbons and other organics (measured by chemical oxygen demand or COD) in the first stage, and clarified the sample in the final stage, eliminating color (PtCo CU) by 99.8 percent.

OriginOil, Inc., developer of technology to convert algae into renewable crude oil, said that in a recent independent third-party testing OriginOil’s algae harvesting process was able to remove 98 percent of hydrocarbons from a sample of West Texas oil well frac flowback water in the first stage alone. The results point to a potentially valuable application of the company’s core water processing technology, originally invented for algae harvesting.

Frac flowback describes water used in a drilling process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. This test sample was taken from an oil well from which 200,000 gallons of oil-rich water flowed back over a period of two weeks. The water resources firm PACE Engineering supplied the sample and analyzed the results.

“The test results surpassed what we expected of OriginOil when we sent them the sample,” said Andrew Komor, vice president for environmental water at PACE Engineering. “The first pass results showed not 70 to 75 percent removal of hydrocarbons as is typical of current technology, but 98 percent. We realized then that this could be a game-changer for the oil and gas industry.”

Water is produced and used in large quantities in oil and gas operations. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, an average of three barrels of contaminated water is generated for every one barrel of oil produced.

In the United States, the average is seven barrels of water. Greentech Media reports that energy companies pay between $3 to $12 to dispose of each barrel of produced water, implying a potential world market value between $300 billion and $1 trillion per year.