In August 2015, the U.S. Government Accountability Office presented to Congress a technology assessment of advanced and emerging water efficient technologies that can be used to reduce freshwater use in hydraulic fracturing and thermoelectric power plant cooling. This assessment is part of a series of six reports analyzing the energy-water nexus.
Part of the assessment describes three alternative fracturing methods to hydraulic fracturing, such as liquid-petroleum gas fracturing, foam-based fracturing fluids, and channel fracturing. Even though those alternative techniques have proved their worth in reducing water use, the researchers observed that they are mostly used for enhanced product recovery. As stated in the assessment, “because of their dependence on specific formation characteristics, these techniques are not widely deployed or generally applicable” to the U.S. shale plays.
The researchers also pointed out that energy companies operating in water-stressed regions have better managed water reuse and recycling due to their need to reduce wastewater costs.
The technology assessment can be found at http://www.gao.gov/assets/680/671913.pdf.
Written by Chloe Marie - Research Fellow