As previously reported here and here, oil and gas companies are seeking innovative and economical solutions to decrease their reliance on fresh water in hydraulic fracturing operations. Although obstacles remain, water recycling may prove to be one such economical solution.

Water recycling during hydraulic fracturing operations still faces practical obstacles because alternatives like injecting the water into disposal wells remain cheaper. However, as water recycling technologies improve, more companies are implementing and offering new recycling methods. Companies like Neohydro Corp, Water Rescue Services, Pure Stream, STW Resources, Ecologix and others seek to offer more efficient and economical solutions to water recycling. Water Rescue Services statically charges the water so that waste particles can be easily removed. Other companies, like STW Resources, rely on flash vacuum distillation, which consists of boiling wastewater under high pressure to separate out all the toxic chemicals. Houston-based Neohydro Corp. uses electricity to create water-cleaning oxidants and can be used onsite at an oil well.

Regulators are also offering their support and encouragement. For example, the Texas Railroad Commission revamped its permitting rules in March to eliminate the need for drillers to get permits for on-site recycling. The Commission also clarified permitting requirements, so applicants can more easily apply for permits.

Although the challenge of finding a cost effective solution remains, technological and regulatory indicators show that recycling of frack water is likely to grow.