July 19, 2024

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Saving Face of Water: How Hydraulic Fracturing is Saving the Environment

Natural gas production is an all-time high. Over the past decade, the dramatic growth of shale gas, made possible by hydraulic fracturing or fracking.

Has led to generation of huge volumes of wastewater known as brine or produced water.

Hydraulic Fracturing

Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is a process of pumping shallow, hard oiled, chemicalized wastewater, at extreme underground level, at a very high pressure to crack open pores within a shale rock formation to extract the oil and natural gas.

  • Fracking consumes an enormous amount of water. The water used for fracking is a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals. The sand stays put in the cracks, which creates pathway for oil and gas to travel.

Fracking Water Treatment System

  • The process comprises multiple steps and several different chemicals. The chemicals change depends on the company doing the fracking and the characteristics of the formation.
  • Natural occurring water (produced water) also flow in addition to this flow-back water. A short while later natural gas and oil flow. With time, the amount of pumped water flowing back decreases and the produced water flow increases. Typically, a frack uses 3-5 million gallons of water, out of which, about one-third of the water pumped will return to the surface.
  • There is no way to predict the water quality with all the variables and it changes rather quickly for the first two weeks of flow. Post two weeks, the water flow is majorly produced water, which is regulated different to that of frack water.

Environmental Concerns

In terms of environment, the major concerns associated with fracking are water and soil contamination which can result from the processes and handling of the fluid as well as the large quantities of induced water necessary to undertake fracking.

Methods of Disposal

  • For successful fracking water treatment, the wastewater must be disposed. The methods of disposal vary at each nation or state depending on their regulations. In many countries, there are regulated wells, usually old drained gas or wells, where the frack water is pumped into. Usually, the only water treatment necessary is filtration, which can be as simple as sock filters or as extensive as clarifiers, depending on the load of solids present in the water.
  • Another method of disposal is reuse. The requirements for each fracking company is different, but usually they want the following variables: low TSS, hardness, metals (particularly barium, strontium, and iron), TDS, and bacteria count.
  • The treatment process, however, varies, but generally include the basic methods like filtration, chemical precipitation, and softening.
  • The only options that are then possible shall be deep well pumping or zero liquid discharge by the usage of evaporators and crystallizers.


  • Hydraulic fracturing technology is a breakthrough work to prevent contamination of groundwater that might potentially put humans and animals at serious health risks, as well as billions of money on solving the problem. Hydraulic fracking technology has the potential to make huge amount of natural gas available.
  • That otherwise would remain trapped below the earth. The increasing use of hydraulic fracking by these industries is driving the growth of the fracking water treatment market.

Which is estimated to grow a rate of nearly 3% through 2030.

The chemical industry is a major component of the economy. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2020, for the U.S., the value added by chemical products as a percentage of GDP was around 1.9%.

  • Additionally, according to the World Bank, Chemical industry in the U.S. accounted for 16.43% to manufacturing value-added in 2018. With the growing demand from end-users, the market for chemical products is expected to grow in future.
  • According to UNEP (United Nations Environment Program), the sales of chemicals are projected to almost double from 2017 to 2030. In the current scenario, Asia Pacific is the largest chemical producing and consuming region.
  • China has the world’s largest chemical industry, that accounted for annual sales of approximately more than USD 1.5 trillion, or about more than one-third of global sales, in recent years.
  • Additionally, a vast consumer base and favorable government policies have boosted investment in China’s chemical industry.

Easy availability of low-cost raw material & labour as well as government subsidies and relaxed environmental norms have served as a production base for key vendors globally.

  • It ranks 6th in global chemical production. This statistic shows the lucrative opportunity for the investment in businesses in Asia Pacific countries in the upcoming years.
  • It is calculated that by 2050, more than 250 million will suffer from shortage of water in South Asia. In addition, population in the region has already used 95 percent of Indus. 

The global fracking water treatment market is further classified on the basis of region as follows:

  • North America (U.S. & Canada) Market size, Y-O-Y growth & Opportunity Analysis
  • Latin America (Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Rest of Latin America) Market size, Y-O-Y growth & Opportunity Analysis
  • Europe (U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Hungary, Belgium, Netherlands & Luxembourg, NORDIC, Poland, Turkey, Russia, Rest of Europe) Market size, Y-O-Y growth & Opportunity Analysis
  • Asia-Pacific (China, India, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Rest of Asia-Pacific) Market size, Y-O-Y growth & Opportunity Analysis
  • Middle East and Africa (Israel, GCC (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman), North Africa, South Africa, Rest of Middle East and Africa) Market size, Y-O-Y growth & Opportunity Analysis