JUNE 17, 2021
Webinar Q&A Recap
This week, we hosted a live webinar that included an industry Q&A with CarboNet’s own CTO and inventor, Michael Carlson. It was an engaging session with no shortage of questions. In case you missed it, you can watch the webcast recording.
Watch the on-demand webinar:
Rethinking Produced Water Treatment for Simplicity & Optimization
For a deep dive into the Q&A, read on to explore questions and answers covered on the live webinar.
What success have you had in oil extraction and in what capacity?
I’ll just touch on that first recovery case because I think that it opens it up to the next piece. So in that water recovery treatment the key issue they were having was treating and getting oil iron rich oil sludge that was too too solid and stratified to actually become saleable oil so it all soaked up into a sludge that had to be broken up and discarded. So previously they were treating three times the volume what we treated in that and only recovered 30 barrels of saleable oil so it’s a pretty significant increase and it was really due to the ejection of oil from those solids. So you get better solid oil breakout in the water and that was really a produce water reclamation case with an oil recovery piece to it and now we’re starting to get into treatments where we’re actually using the chemicals solely for oil recovery and that’s basically pre the separators and those can be gum barrels or we have some cone bottom tanks we’re looking at using and and that’s in contract in at the same time with some operators. So we’re looking forward to seeing how those turn out. From the early data looks really promising.
How stable are our chemicals and with what oxidants?
So for NanoNet Fe, super stable. You can inject it directly beside high concentration additions of oxidants. With FeP, it does have a polyacrylamide in it, and those polyacrylamides are liable to change, especially if there is iron in your water in the presence of oxidants. So you’d typically want to dose that a little bit down stream of the oxidant just to make sure you don’t chew up your polymer if you have to increase your dosing due to an H2S or iron slug influent.
You mentioned a reduction in sludge, can you please elaborate. If you are creating a floc, where do the solids go?
So, the reduction in sludge. There are 2 kinds of reductions that we’ll see. The first one is strictly against generally inorganic solid coagulants. NanoNet Fe is completely carbon and oxygen and hydrogen, there are no metals in it. So typically, when you’re using an inorganic coagulant. You’ll get quite a large water hydroxide floc, sometimes people will classify this as being fluffy. In the case of NanoNet Fe, that would not be the case. We have a very dense type floc. There are a lot of hydrophobic components that will expel water so that you end up getting a significantly lower sludge volume, and to answer the second part of that. If you’re creating a floc, where do the solids go? Those solids are filterable, so in some cases they go to a filter press, they get dewatered and sent to landfill, but they can also be disposed of through standard injection disposal facilities.
Can you tell us what percent of total volume treated was sludge in that 80% reduction in the sludge?
I think what the question here is the total volume of the waste treatment process, and in that application, we were doing 50k barrels a day, and there was one truck every two days being disposed of. So you’re at about 1% waste volume, that was before the chemical had been added. Our sludge is typically classified as dirty produced water, so it is very easy to dispose of. Certainly, the current preferred treatment is peroxide, but when we saw a lot of chlorine dioxide, that was much harder to dispose of.
Do your chemicals need agitation to work?
Yes it does. They don’t need active agitation, but anytime you’re doing mixing, you’d want to put it somewhere where there is a turbulent flow, just to get distribution in the water. Our chemicals are dosed directly into 12, 8, 10 inch pipelines. Sometimes there is a static mixer, sometimes there isn’t. Generally the better mixing you have, you can expect the better action of any chemical. But they do not need any active mixing such as a flash tank or anything like that.
Is it possible that treatment of flowback after frack at remote locations and reuse it for the next frack job?
Absolutely, I know that there is definitely different options where people are already doing that. I think the key issue when it comes to water reuse with fracks is not necessarily of whether it can be done, it’s just the logistics of moving the water. You’d need to be able to store that fluid and pipe it, and depending on the regulations of the state or province that you’re in, it can really change the economics of if that’s viable or not.
A good application for remote locations is our FeP product because it is already a pre-hydrated polymer. So, as we shared earlier, you don’t need water, you don’t need to mix, and that can certainly simplify a waste treatment process when it’s in a very remote location. We see this even in Texas as there are more mobile treatment sites that are rigged up and rigged down in a couple days, and then moved to the next battery. That would be another example that would fit very nicely into this treatment process.
Do we have any evidence of working with non-chlorine biocides?
Yes. Typically, in the water treatment process, the oxidation is there for biocidal activity, but it is also there for H2S control and a knock out of the iron, and we’ve pretty much seen every oxidant down there. The only one that we haven’t treated with in a commercial aspect is ozone, but we’ve seen permanganate, peroxide, hypochlorite, chloride, chlorine dioxide, seen pretty much all the different oxidants that get used. Commercially, we do not have any biocides available at the moment, but it is definitely an area of interest for us. We do not see any effects on the biocides, and this is talking about the downstream component. Once you treat the water, the scaffold we’ve integrated in NanoNet Fe is designed to actually remove itself from the water. So when you add it, it binds the contaminants, precipitates, and becomes part of that sludge. But the volumes are very very minimal, so it doesn’t change the sludge volumes that much, but there really isn’t any chemical left at the end of the treatment process. In the case of polyacrylamide, if you really overdose it, you may see some, but the whole idea of FeP is to use minimal polymers.
Depending on certain water treatment systems and of course the characteristics of the influent quality, we have seen a nice relationship between the application of our chemicals and the reduction of how much oxidant is needed. So that’s another cost savings benefit that could potentially emerge. Of course, it depends on the water and produced water is a little bit like a snowflake.
Will it also remove floc barium? Or is it only iron?
So, that’s an interesting question. If it’s the raw barium ion in solution like a barium salt, you’re not going to get significant removal of that just through NanoNet Fe. Where we have used NanoNet Fe in a barium application is coagulation, encapsulation, and flocculation of barium sulfates. So once it precipitates out as barium sulfates, that when it is getting coagulated and removed. There are applications around barium that we started to treat and show some good work with, but in terms of produced water as a straight dissolved and removal, NanoNet Fe is not designed to do that.
Does CarboNet provide process equipment with their chemical?
The answer is no. We are heavily invested in building the absolute best chemistry with our products to solve your issues and we provide a lot of support to ensure our chemicals are successful, but we are just the chemical side of the equation. For sure, we can help with rig up, rig down, installation of pumps as needed, but our core focus is on the chemical.
Has this product been tested in Canada?
CarboNet itself originated out of Canada, but it has very much become a Canadian-American company with our first market out in the Permian basin. We are actively building out our market in Canada.
Have we trialed our product as a pretreatment for a nanofiltration or reverse osmosis system?
We have not used NanoNet Fe as a coagulant in front of a RO or NF filtration system. We have done ultrafiltration.
Have you experienced any issues with winterization with product? Is there a concern with your product with the application of it in Canada?
I’ll just provide some colour commentary of the Texas deep freeze that just took place. Yes it was an anomaly for Texas, but our products, while they are subject to freezing issues because there is polyacrylamide, we did not miss a day of treatment. We had 100% up time throughout the entire deep freeze.
NanoNet FeP and Fe are water based, so you will have freezing once you get below a certain temperature. The way to typically fix that is to add an anti-freeze additive. With FeP that falls in the ethylene glycol chemistries. They tend to increase viscosity a little bit, so you would have to decrease how much polymer is in there by a small amount, but then you could prevent freezing.
Any norm issues encountered and resolved?
We have encounter any norm issues to date. I think the large reasoning for that is the NanoNet Fe is not targeting those norm contaminants. It is really going after the iron and solids in the water in these treatment applications. It is eliminated from the water before it makes it down into the pipelines, so you’re not getting your buildup of scale. The other piece to it is I don’t think the water that we’ve seen in west Texas has been high in norms in comparison to some of the water you may see up north.
Have we seen any difference in the clarification process between floc and drop tanks or DAF or IGF applications?
For produced water, we pretty much are always looking at floatation, and the reasoning for that is that there is generally quite a bit of oil, so it is easier to make those things float than sink because the actual nanonets themselves are about neutrally buoyant if not a little bit lighter once you add that air mixed into them. On the larger treatment processes, more around mining and solid separation, thickening, that is more a settling. In produced water treatment, it is almost always floatation. And it works equivalently to a polyacrylamide in any of those applications on the FeP side. It really depends on the contaminant density of the water.
What about through put?
Through put is a good one. On FeP, when we’re treating in these fast flowing systems, especially in the produced water space in the Permian, you have so many different styles of systems. And when you’re treating into for example a couple weir tanks in series and you have a short rapid mixing before they get into there, you really want something that is going to floc and float quickly and stay together. One of the hallmarks of what you consider flocculation is that the flocs irreversibly break. So coagulation, they’re going to reversibly break, flocculation, they will irreversibly break. So if you floc something and then you run it through a turbulent system, and it breaks, what ends up happening is you get carry through. It just breaks as a powder and goes through your system. With FeP, you get a much stronger floc that doesn’t do that and there is also elements of it actually reforming. So what the ends up doing giving you a better, faster floc, and lets you push more water through that system as that turbulence doesn’t have such a dramatic effect on your carry over.
Any produced water chemistry where the chemical will not be suitable for use?
I think it’s safe to say there is no silver bullet. We certainly designed a chemical that can handle what we feel is the bulk of the issues we’ve seen over the last several years in working with produced water.
NanoNet Fe is an anionic coagulant, so it will not be a full sale replacement of cationic coagulants if the main mechanism they’re doing is charged neutralization. And that becomes more important in fresh water than in saline waters. In produced water, which is a hundred thousand td, ppm, tds, it’s not such an issue. But as you start getting into fresh water flow backs where you have a lot of chemicals, high levels of residual polyacrylamide, or high levels of chelators, sometimes those will require cationic coagulants. But that doesn’t mean is not suitable for you. So you can still get the boost, you can actually reduce that amount of coagulant you’d normally use and reduce the amount of polymer you’d be using in those applications as well, but you will still need that coagulant. That’s really the main only issue we’ve seen so far, but I wouldn’t even consider it an issue, it’s just water chemistry.
Any lower limits on oil and solid particle side for our chemical to be effective?
We haven’t seen a lower limit, but we haven’t been specifically looking for it. It’s a good question but I don’t have a great answer. If there would be a lower limit, it would be within nanometer range, like really fine particles because one of the key pieces we see with NanoNet Fe is when it goes into produced water and precipitates, you’ll get a sweet floc mechanism going on, and you collect a lot of those fine particles into the floc. So you do get better fine caption in polyacrylamide alone, but we have not quantified what the size cut off would be.
Can our chemical be suitable for ozonated water?
Yes, there’s nothing in NanoNet Fe that would react with ozone. If you really kicked the volumes up, you might get some reaction, but there’s no easily oxidiziable components in NanoNet Fe. And it has a really strong affinity for the iron hydroxides and the other chemistries you might be adding into the ozone. I don’t foresee any issues in using with ozone. I think it’s a very nice pairing, with that being said, we haven’t tested that in a commercial aspect, but in the lab, we’ve had no issues.
How does it handle iron oxide or aged iron?
NanoNet Fe will do a fine job on iron oxide. What you might sometimes get though is iron oxide particles, especially in water that sat for a long time with a lot of bacterial growth. You’ll get a coating of organics on the outside of them. They effectively become little negatively charged, stable, dispersed particles. And those will typically need a coagulant. An inorganic positively charged coagulant. NanoNet Fe will still be dosed in there but you’d put that coagulant in to try to take care of some of those particles.
Is this a water soluble product? And is there any way to tell if there is residual leftover?
It’s completely water soluble, up until the point of precipitation, when it binds the concentration. But it shows up in a fully aqueous tote. It’s not like a oil based chemistry. The product is designed to precipitate out and be removed from the solution, so there really shouldn’t be any residual. Is there a way of detecting it? Yes. But typically in produced water applications, there are a lot of other things in the water, so it’s quite difficult to detect any residual unless it’s NanoNet Fe. In which case you’ll see a white precipitate. It’s very easy to see that and in most cases, that’s an issue of a separation efficiency. So you can detect it as a white precipitated solid because you can see it, but it’s inert. It really doesn’t have any effect on the downstream processes.
What are applications for mining companies?
So this goes back to our philosophy around drug deliveries. Improving the activity of polyacrylamide. Polyacrylamide is used in so many different applications, especially in mining. Whether it be solid separation during the process or treatment of the water recycle loop, or even active treatment of acid mine drainage. So there’s many different applications where this kind of technology can apply in mining, and I would focus them all on places where flocculation is important. Really where we’ve started is the treating of the tailings and on some of the solid separation pieces.
For use in treatment before water disposal, is there a concern that the residual product would cause formation damage?
No. The actual sludge from a lot of these treatment processes, operators will do one of two things. They’ll dewater it and dispose of the dry solids, but probably 50% of the cases, they will just take that water and inject it down hole along with the sludge that is built with nanonets in it. The actual NanoNet Fe precipitate, before you add flocculant is what you’d be expecting in this case, is very easy to disperse. So if you run it through the high pressure pumps before that disposal well, it’s getting sheared up, and just disappearing. We’ve seen no issues at all with the product in disposal or any injection capabilities.
Can you speak a little bit to any concerns around handling the product? Make up of the product? General commentary around safety and environmental concerns.
There really aren’t any headline safety things that I worry about. NanoNet Fe itself is alkaline, so it is caustic, so you’ll need to wear proper PPE when handling it. So eye protection and gloves. FeP is not, it is neutral. Probably the worst thing about FeP is that it’s very sticky, but still very pumpable. It is a poly acrylamide. Both of those chemicals, because they are concentrated, we don’t dilute before application, they just go straight into the actual process, so you end up minimizing any sort of transfer that you’d be doing. You’re not pouring chemicals, which in itself, based on feedback from the operators, it has had quite a meaningful impact on safety. It was not something that I was originally expecting. Just removing the ability of spills, especially reportable spills, is really helpful. But no, I don’t have any big safety headliners.
Also worth mentioning, in the manufacturing process of our Fe product, it is a zero waste process. As a company, much like our partners in the field, supporting the environment, ensuring the safety of those that use our chemicals are of chief concern to us.