Improving saline-sodic coalbed natural gas water quality using natural zeolites.
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Management of saline-sodic water from the coalbed natural gas (CBNG) industry in the Powder River Basin (PRB) of Wyoming and Montana is a major environmental challenge. Clinoptilolie zeolites mined in Nevada, California, and New Mexico were evaluated for their potential to remove sodium (Na+) from CBNG waters. Based on the exchangeable cation composition, naturally occurring calcium (Ca2+)-rich zeolites from New Mexico were selected for further evaluation. Batch adsorption experiments were conducted to evaluate the potential of the Ca(2+)-rich natural clinoptilolites to remove Na+ from saline-sodic CBNG waters. Batch adsorption experiments indicated that Na+ adsorption capacity ofclinoptilolite ranged from 4.3 (4 x 6 mesh) to 7.98 g kg(-1) (14 x 40 mesh). Among the different adsorption isotherms investigated, the Freundlich Model fitted the data best for smaller-sized (6 x 8, 6 x 14, and 14 x 40 mesh) zeolites. Passing the CBNG water through Ca(2+)-rich zeolite columns reduced the salt content (electrical conductivity [EC]) by 72% with a concurrent reduction in sodium adsorption 10 mmol 1/2 L(-1/2). Zeolite technology appears to be an effective water treatment alternative to industrial membrane treatment for removing Na+ from poor-quality CBNG waters.