Illinois Sustainable Technology Center - University of Illinois

Fluorescence spectroscopy as a complementary technique for characterization of organic matter associated with produced waters from oil extraction

Presented by John W. Scott - Senior Analytical Chemist at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, Prairie Research Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

September 22, 2016

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Unconventional sources of oil and gas are becoming increasingly important in meeting US energy demands. Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing of shales in locations such as Pennsylvania are commonplace in response to the need for domestically sourced energy. Although development of these new technologies has increased the domestic production of gas and oil, there have been many concerns relating to contamination of surface water, groundwater and drinking water supplies.

Fluorescence excitation-emission spectroscopy is a rapid and inexpensive technique that could be utilized as a screening tool for water samples suspected of contamination by hydraulic fracturing operations. In conjunction with computational analysis of the fluorescence data using techniques such as parallel factor analysis (PARAFAC), questions such as "Has there been contamination caused by fracking" can be answered rapidly and inexpensively.

Chemical additives used in fracturing fluids and chemical contaminates in produced waters, such as polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), could be used as a surrogate to determine if contamination of surface waters, groundwaters, and drinking waters was due to hydraulic fracturing operations in nearby locations. Methods developed in this project could aid in water quality monitoring and help guide decisions regarding further testing of water samples suspected of contamination.

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