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UTSA, SwRI® researchers to develop low-cost method to treat fracking water

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(August 6, 2013) --Researchers at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) jointly announce they are investing $200,000 in new research to develop a low-cost method to treat flow-back water following hydraulic fracturing. Over the next year, the researchers will optimize an inexpensive charcoal product called biochar for the water treatment solution. It will be tested on water samples from the Eagle Ford Shale.

Flow-back water treatment is currently a critical sustainability issue for the oil and gas industry. By sheer volume, flow-back water is expensive to treat because a single well can require one to five million gallons of fracking fluid. Environmental factors also must be considered because flow-back water includes salts, hydrocarbons and heavy metals, making it unsafe for disposal on land and in streams.

UTSA mechanical engineering faculty member Zhigang Feng and SwRI senior research scientist Maoqi Feng believe that they can alter biochar derived from wood chips to create an economical and environmentally friendly solution. Produced from pyrolysis of biomass, biochar is a stable charcoal-like solid that attracts and retains water, absorbing up impurities such as hydrocarbons, organics, biocides and certain inorganic metal ions.

Over the course of the study, the researchers will isolate, prepare and characterize the biochar; test the biochar on flow-back water samples from the Eagle Ford shale; develop computer models of the biochar water treatment system; and assess the biochar's performance for possible improvements.

If successful, they expect the biochar treatment to be the second step of a two-step water purification process. The first step would include filtration to remove the solids in the water remaining from the fracking process. The treated water would then be ready for re-use or safe disposal.

The Connect Program, an annual UTSA-SwRI joint funding initiative, was established in 2010 to stimulate inter-organizational research between UTSA scholars and SwRI investigators in fields such as advanced materials, chemistry and chemical engineering, energy, the environment, security and manufacturing.

Connect online with SwRI at http://www.swri.org/, http://www.swri.org/vidclip/vidclip.htm or http://www.youtube.com/swritv.

Connect online with UTSA at www.facebook.com/utsa, www.twitter.com/utsa, www.youtube.com/utsa and www.utsa.edu/today.

About UTSA
The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) is an emerging Tier One research institution specializing in health, energy, security, sustainability, and human and social development. With nearly 31,000 students, it is the largest university in the San Antonio metropolitan region. UTSA advances knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. The university embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property – for Texas, the nation and the world.

 

 

Events

Wednesday, May 4, 5 p.m.

School Psychology Symposium and Reception

Student posters will present case studies based on practicum experiences, literature reviews on topics relevant to educational psychology, and other research experiences this year. The event is free and open to the public.
Durango Building (1.124), Downtown Campus

Thursday, May 5, 5 p.m.

String Project Spring Concert

This end-of-semester concert will feature the 3rd through 8th grade students who have participated in the UTSA String Project this year. The event is free and open to the public.
Buena Vista Theater, Downtown Campus

Friday, May 6, 8 p.m.

First Friday Stargazing

The UTSA Department of Physics and Astronomy, Curtis Vaughan Observatory invites everyone to join them for their monthly stargazing event on top of the Flawn Science Building
Flawn Science Building, Curtis Vaughan Observatory, Main Campus

Monday, May 9, 8 a.m.

The Honeynet Project Workshop

This three-day event will focus on the tools, tactics and motives involved in computer and network attacks. Attendees from around the world will take part in world-class hands-on trainings and technical discussions.
H-E-B University Center Ballroom, Main Campus

Thursday, May 12, 4 p.m.

Master of Public Administration Open House

Visit with faculty, alumni and students to discuss the benefits of and requirements for a Master Degree in Public Administration and/or the Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Administration & Leadership
Buena Vista Building (1.338), Downtown Campus

Saturday, May 14, 10 a.m.

UTSA Spring Commencement: Ceremony One

UTSA Spring Commencement ceremony for the College of Architecture, Construction and Planning, the College of Education and Human Development and the College of Sciences.
Alamodome

Saturday, May 14, 4 p.m.

UTSA Spring Commencement: Ceremony Two

UTSA Spring Commencement ceremony for the College of Business, the College of Public Policy and University College.
Alamodome

Sunday, May 15, 2 p.m.

UTSA Spring Commencement: Ceremony Three

UTSA Spring Commencement ceremony for the College of Engineering and the College of Liberal and Fine Arts.
Alamodome

Wednesday, May 18, 3 p.m.

The Great Staff Appreciation Event

The UTSA community is invited to honor the roughly 2,600 UTSA staff members who contribute to the success of the university and its students.
University Center Ballroom, Main Campus

Thursday, May 19, 6 p.m.

Superintendent Certification Program Information Session

Join UTSA faculty and staff, current students, and area central office administrators/program alumni to learn about this exciting accelerated and web-enhanced program leading to Texas Superintendent Certification. The event is free and open to the public.
Buena Vista Building (1.322), Downtown Campus


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UTSA's Vision

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