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GE Unveils Device for Use in Marcellus

The Business Journal
Youngstown, Ohio
Oct. 4, 2010

TREVOSE, Pa.- GE is introducing a mobile evaporator designed to help natural gas producers recycle untreated waters that result from the hydraulic fracturing process at Marcellus Shale well sites.

GE’s new, completely mobilized evaporator is energy efficient, fully transportable, cost effective and will enable onsite frac water recycling, reducing the volume of wastewater and fresh water that needs to be hauled to and from the site, the company said.

The Marcellus Shale is a reservoir where natural gas and oil is buried deep below the earth's surface and lacks the natural permeability to flow to the surface for recovery. The process of hydraulic fracturing creates small fractures in the rock surrounding the reservoir to create a path through which the natural gas and oil can flow.

While hydraulic fracturing increases the production rate of oil and gas wells, the process also uses a substantial amount of freshwater and produces billions of gallons of wastewater each year.

GE's mobile evaporator will treat the severely impaired waters, such as frac flowback and produced water, making it possible to reuse the water in the industrial process, reduce the amount of fresh water consumed and any subsequent environmental impact from discharge, said Jeff Connelly, vice president for GE's Power & Water unit.

Regions like the Marcellus Shale produce very high total dissolved solids (TDS) frac water, have limited deep well capacity and increasingly stringent discharge regulations, he explained. The mobile evaporator will enable natural gas producers to significantly decrease their transportation and disposal costs, Connelly said. Additionally, the communities will benefit from less truck traffic and decreased wear and tear on local roads. The first units will be available in early 2011.

The mobile evaporator is a 50-gallon per minute, horizontal, shell and tube, forced circulation, mechanical vapor recompression system. Unlike other treatment methods, thermal evaporation removes nearly all of the impurities in the water, allowing producers to easily meet the newly passed Pennsylvania discharge regulations of less than 500 TDS.