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Second Thermal and Fluids Engineering  Conference

ISSN: 2379-1748
ISBN: 978-1-56700-430-4

WASTE NATURAL GAS-BASED ATMOSPHERIC WATER HARVESTING FOR OIL PRODUCTION

Enakshi Wikramanayake
Department of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712

Onur Ozkan
Department of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712

Vaibhav Bahadur
Department of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712

Abstract

Excess natural gas produced in oilfields and emitted from landfills is primarily flared or vented, leading to large scale energy waste and environmental issues. This work analyzes a novel concept to use this waste gas to condense atmospheric water. Natural gas-powered refrigeration systems can provide the cooling capacity for large scale atmospheric water harvesting (AWH). Excess gas from newly fractured oil wells, or landfill gas from nearby landfills can power mobile refrigeration systems for large scale AWH. The harvested water can be used by nearby oilfields for operations like hydraulic fracturing and drilling. The proposed technology eliminates waste, and addresses water issues, which are a bottleneck for development of US Shale resources. A modeling framework is presented to estimate the volume of water that can be harvested, based on the volume of waste gas, ambient weather and the refrigeration system. The benefits of flared gas-based AWH are quantified for the Eagle Ford (Texas) and the Bakken (North Dakota) Shales, which are the two biggest flaring hotspots in the US. The benefits of landfill gas-based AWH are quantified for the Barnett Shale (Texas), which can be served by 30 landfills. Overall, flared gas-based AWH can meet 11% and 65% of the annual water requirements of the Eagle Ford and Bakken Shales, respectively. The water harvested from LFG-based AWH can meet 14% of the annual water requirements of the Barnett Shale. Overall, waste natural gas-based AWH offers significant economic benefits while addressing critical environmental issues related to hydrocarbon production.

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