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Method and apparatus for treating natural gas and oil well drilling waste water

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Method and apparatus for treating natural gas and oil well drilling waste water

A method of treating contaminated water effluent from a well drilling operation. The method comprises decomposing organic contaminants in the effluent by bubbling a gas containing ozone through the effluent; adding a coagulant to increase the particle size of solid particles contained in the effluent; adding a flocculant to increase the particle size of solid particles contained in the effluent, thereby forming flocs suspended in the effluent; and filtering the flocs from the effluent to produce a filtrate and flocculated solids. The method may further comprise adding the coagulant into a stream of effluent flowing within a first conduit under controlled shear conditions, and adding the flocculant into a stream of effluent containing pin flocs flowing within a second conduit under controlled shear conditions. The method may further comprise delivering the effluent containing the suspended flocs into a filter through a conduit floating in the effluent contained in the filter.
Related Terms: Drilling Waste

Browse recent Lake Country Fracwater Specialists, LLC patents - Livonia, NY, US
Inventors: Francis C. MILLER, Steven B. Addleman
USPTO Applicaton #: #20120279925 - Class: 210723 (USPTO) - 11/08/12 - Class 210 
Liquid Purification Or Separation > Processes >Making An Insoluble Substance Or Accreting Suspended Constituents >Utilizing Precipitant, Flocculant, Or Coagulant, Each With Accelerator Or With Each Other Or Plural Precipitants, Flocculants, Or Coagulants

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20120279925, Method and apparatus for treating natural gas and oil well drilling waste water.

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This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/481,370 filed May 2, 2011, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference. This invention is also related to the inventions disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/914,072 filed Oct. 28, 2010, and U.S. Provisional Application for Patent No. 60/255,504, filed Oct. 28, 2009, the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference.


1. Technical Field

This invention relates to the removal of contaminants from waste water discharged at a gas wellhead, and more particularly to the removal of contaminants from drilling water that is used during the process of drilling a well bore, and that is subsequently discharged from the wellhead. The waste water may contain petroleum-based drilling muds. The waste water may be treated as it is discharged from a well bore, or after it is temporarily stored in a nearby lagoon or tanks.

2. Description of Related Art

Certain subterranean geologic formations contain significant reservoirs of natural gas. For example, the Marcellus Shale subterranean formation, which extends from central and western New York southwardly through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and eastern Ohio, contains significant natural gas deposits. Extraction of this gas has been made economically and technically feasible by the utilization of a technology referred to as hydraulic fracturing, commonly abbreviated as “hydrofracking,” or “fracking.” This technology utilizes injection of large volumes of water at high pressure to fracture the subterranean shale structures, which causes them to separate and release the pockets of methane gas contained within the shale strata.

During the drilling of the wells, drilling mud and treated water are utilized for lubrication, suspension of drilling wastes, and as weighting agents to form a plug to restrain the pressure of the natural gas within the well bore. This drilling operation produces a waste effluent stream referred to as “pit water.” This pit water is the liquid and semi-solid remnants resulting from the drilling process typically remaining after the bulk of the rock cuttings have been removed by conventional means. This pit water contains contaminants in the form of drilling mud, pulverized rock cuttings and chemicals from the subterranean structures, as well as from pretreatment of the water with certain chemicals prior to performing the drilling along with other debris. As much as one hundred thousand gallons of pit water may be generated from the drilling process for each well. Separation of the rock cuttings and drilling muds from this water is needed.

The contaminants in this water render it unsuitable for reuse except in small proportions. Disposal of the water and the organically contaminated solids contained therein has become an expensive proposition for the well developers and also a difficult environmental problem. Treatment of the water with solidification additives is sometimes used. New environmental regulations, as well those proposed and likely to be implemented, may severely limit the ability to dispose of or treat this water by conventional means within the states of Pennsylvania and New York as well as Texas, and Idaho among others, and some foreign countries. There is a significant need by the well developers for technologies which will treat the water to enable its reuse to a maximum extent, and for the cost effective and environmentally satisfactory disposal of the contaminants contained in it.

The contaminants in this water include many of the following components: Sodium chloride. Calcium and magnesium (hardness) salts, typically in the bicarbonate and/or chloride form. Soluble sulfate salts. Volatile organic compounds (VOC) resulting from the degradation of the ancient sea creatures captured within the shale formation. (The VOCs may include small amounts of crude oil.) Residual organic compounds (ROC) from the water treatment chemicals introduced into the drilling water to enhance the drilling process. Pulverized rock cuttings. Bentonite clay which may be a component of the drilling mud.

The following are also possibly present, but to a lesser degree:

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US 20120279925 A1
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Drilling Waste

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