Effective Treatment of Shale Oil and Gas Produced Water via an Integrated Treatment Train


Available for Licensing

IP Status

US Patent: US 2021/0188678 A1


Tiezheng Tong
Kenneth H Carlson
Zuoyou Zhang
Xuewei Du 

Reference No: 19-013
Licensing Manager

Jessy McGowan

At a Glance

​Researchers at Colorado State University have developed an integrated treatment process composed of chemical coagulation, filtration, and membrane distillation (MD) in sequence, which can be used to treat shale oil and gas produced water efficiently.  The technology will enable a cost-effective, on-site, and off-grid waste water treatment system that improves the environmental and economical sustainability of shale oil and gas industry.



Shale oil and gas wastewater is extremely challenging to treat due to its high salinity, high organic matter content, and toxicity.  The salinity of shale oil and gas wastewater (up to 360,000 ppm) exceeds the desalination limit of reverse osmosis (salinity of 70,000 ppm), rendering this energy-efficient technology inappropriate for wastewater treatment.  Accordingly, energy intensive thermal technologies have to be employed, increasing the cost and resulting in most of the oilfield wastewater being disposed into injection wells.  Membrane Distillation (MD), however, is a promising technology particularly for shale oil and gas wastewater treatment, because of its capability of utilizing geothermal energy (typically contained in shale oil and gas wastewater) or waste heat from oilfield operations, tolerance to high salinity, and modular nature.  

  • Improved fouling and scaling resistance
  • Reduces concentrations of particulate matter
  • Removes volatile toxic compounds – reducing toxicity and environmental risks of water product
  • Tolerance to high salinity
  • Self-sustained
  • Wastewater treatment for oil and gas industry