Fit-for-purpose treatment of produced water with iron and polymeric coagulant for reuse in hydraulic fracturing: Temperature effects on aggregation and high-rate sedimentation. Academic Article uri icon


  • Reusing produced water for hydraulic fracturing simultaneously satisfies challenges of fresh water sourcing and the installation/operation of an extensive disposal well infrastructure. Herein, we systematically and rigorously investigate produced water treatment for reuse during hydraulic fracturing. Highly saline and turbid produced water from the Permian Basin was treated by adding chlorine as an oxidant, FeCl3 as the primary coagulant, and an anionic polymer to induce high rate sedimentation to generate "clean brine" by removing suspended solids and iron over a range of environmentally relevant temperatures. Mobile phone video capture, optical microscopy, and digital image/video analysis were employed to characterize floc morphology and measure its size and settling velocity. Conformational changes of the polymeric coagulant between 4 and 44C were inferred from viscosity and dynamic light scattering measurements providing clues to its performance characteristics. Floc settling velocities measured over the entire range of polymer dosages and temperatures were empirically modelled incorporating their fractal nature, average size, and the viscosity of the produced water using only a single fitting parameter. Juxtaposing the anionic polymer with the hydrolyzing metal-ion coagulant effectively destabilized the suspension and caused floc growth through a combination of enmeshment, adsorption and charge neutralization and inter-particle bridging as evidenced by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and thermogravimetric analysis. Very high turbidity (98%) and total iron (97%) removals were accomplished even with very short flocculation and sedimentation times of only 6minutes each suggesting the feasibility of this approach to reuse produced water for hydraulic fracturing.

published proceedings

  • Water Res

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Nadella, M., Sharma, R., & Chellam, S.

citation count

  • 18

complete list of authors

  • Nadella, Mahith||Sharma, Ramesh||Chellam, Shankararaman

publication date

  • November 2019