Water is an essential component in many of the processes used for oil and gas production. For example, the hydraulic fracturing used to extract natural gas on a commercial level employs slick-water equipment that consumes massive amounts of water. Extraction from horizontal shale walls may require more than a million litres of water per stage of the process. This has created challenges in the supply and treatment of adequate water for not only municipal but also industrial purposes.
Marine Water Makers
Areas that have limited surface water or groundwater, or even no available fresh water may choose to acquire water from marine sources. Innovative industrial filtration, purification and desalination systems have been developed that are suitable for even the most challenging situations. For example, workers living on off-shore oil-rigs need a fresh supply of water from commercial water filters, as do those dwelling in coastal desert community who live under constant drought conditions.
Seawater Reverse Osmosis Plants
Reverse osmosis (RO) is an increasingly common method for the desalination of seawater. RO plants consume relatively low amounts of energy and in recent years have become even more efficient, with the standard energy consumption dropping to approximately 3 kWh per m3. This is largely a result of improvements that allow the recovery of energy during the process. The IDA (International Desalination Association) has estimated that RO plants make up 66% of the total installed desalination capacity, which equates to 44.5 of 67.4 Mm3 per day. Almost all new desalination plants fit this category.
Seawater Reverse Osmosis Systems
When it comes to reverse osmosis systems for the purification of seawater, the aim is to remove various types of molecules and ions from solutions, including bacteria and organic matter. Spiral wound membranes are often the preferred membrane geometry for these purposes due to their high success and efficiency rate. RO systems may be used in conjunction with ultra and nanofiltration, where the highest grade of polyamide thin-film composite materials are used to construct the RO membrane. This ensures high performance and retained integrity during the process.
Desalination is often the only option for seagoing vessels and offshore communities. Although the current figure is only 1% of the world’s population which is dependent on desalinated water for daily needs. However, this figure is expected to have risen to 14% by 2025 as more and more of the world’s population encounter water scarcity.