This invention represents a transformational view of produced water disposal and has application to the oil and gas industry. Other industries that require efficient and economic systems for water treatment applications can also benefit from this technology.
Existing methods of water treatment and disposal have limited effectiveness for managing produced water. A major byproduct of oil and gas extraction, produced water features high salinity (can be 2-8 times more saline than seawater) and toxicity that renders conventional desalination technologies ineffective, uneconomical, or otherwise undesirable. This technology uses a low complexity and economical system to completely evaporate produced water.
This evaporation system capitalizes on a double-layered material that floats and uses freely available solar energy to treat produced water. The wavelength-selective, insulating-thermally, salt-repelling, porous (WISP) material features a spectrally-selective solar absorber layer that harvests sunlight and a bottom foam insulator layer that localizes heat to promote high evaporation rates. The top absorber layer, comprised of a carbon material (e.g. carbon black) and possibly a polymer mix, also has a layer of anti-scaling lubricant that prevents salt deposition and performance degradation over time. This floating absorber-insulator structure serves to heat the surface of an evaporation pond and enhance evaporation. A transparent cover sits above the pond to condense and collect the vaporized water for reuse.
- Use of cheap and abundant materials (economic materials for the receiver and solar energy)
- High efficiency
- Low in complexity for rapid industry-wide adoption