Flowback water from shale gas well drilling has a high TDS (total dissolved solids) content, ranging from 5000ppm to 261,000ppm, along with a TSS (total suspended solids) content of 300-3000mg/L. Recently, the rapid expansion of shale gas production in Marcellus Formation has raised serious environmental concerns about the large amount of flowback water in this area. A process based on ceramic membrane filtration and ion-exchange was studied for the treatment of the flowback water from Marcellus Formation. The studied process contains a combination of two MF (microfiltration) membranes, 1.4μm and 0.2μm respectively, and mixed bed ion-exchange. After treatment, all TSS and >99% of TDS were successfully removed from the flowback water to meet the criteria for surface discharge. The cost estimation of the treatment is approximately 18.4 $/m3, 40-70% lower than the cost estimate of the DEP(Department of Environmental Protection in Pennsylvania). © 2012.
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