Oilfield Water Markets Conference Proudly Partners With Graduate Students Pursuing Advanced Water Studies
If you attended the Oilfield Water Markets Conference in Frisco last week, you might have noticed some graduate students manning the registration desk, passing microphones around the room in Q&A, networking with attendees, and helping to make it a great event.
Oilfield Water Connection is proud to partner with two leading universities in advanced produced water studies – University of Wyoming and University of Wisconsin Milwaukee – to provide networking and learning opportunities to some of their graduate students at our events.
Student volunteers and professors from the schools receive comped admission and recognition as supporting organizations at the event in return for volunteering.
In this post, we wanted to share a little more about the four graduate students you saw at the event and the exciting water research they are working on. These are the future leaders, innovators, and bright minds of our industry!
Joshua Swigart is a Ph.D. Student at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the Department of Geosciences. He has over 15 years of experience as a geologist working in the oil industry, higher education, and environmental consulting field. In his environmental consulting career, he primarily focused on groundwater and soil contamination remediation projects, as well as environmental pipeline inspection. He attained an MS at the University of Arkansas, where he began to study the effects of produced water on soil properties. Previous to starting his Phd, Joshua worked as an Adjunct Professor in Geosciences at the University of Texas – Permian Basin, where he began his research and development of a produced water recycling system. After being accepted for PhD at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, he has continued research and development of his produced water recycling system and hopes to use this water for irrigation purposes in remote areas where fresh water supplies may be less readily available, making farming more practical in arid areas and helping to further feed and clothe the world’s expanding populations. His previous research publication relating to produced water can be found here.
Tao Wu, who is from Hong Kong, is a doctoral candidate at the University of Wyoming in the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering. Tao has been working on the development of novel technologies for treating produced waters for over 4-yrs. His current work focuses on studying multidirectional magnetic fields to manipulate the physiochemical properties of water, inorganic (salts, minerals, metals), and organic compounds. This technology is being used to enhance the solubility (reduced scaling potential) of high-salinity brines and destruction of synthetic organic compounds in produced waters without the addition of chemical oxidants and other additives. This non-barrier and non-chemical treatment technology is envisioned as a low-energy and technically simple treatment alternative for produced water management applications.
Joseph Barnes joined the graduate program at the University of Wyoming in 2020 and is pursuing his Masters in Environmental Engineering degree. Joseph’s research, which is sponsored by the Department of Energy (DOE), involves developing electrospun, superhydrophobic membranes for selectively recovering hydrocarbons, and other apolar compounds, from produced waters. The motivation for this research arises from the presence of free/dispersed hydrocarbons after produced waters pass through more conventional separation processes. When impoundments are used for storing produced waters these residual compounds present air emission concerns, while also representing a source of lost revenue for producers. The “smart” membranes being developed by Joseph avoid fouling issues encountered by conventional filtration membranes by selectively permeating the hydrocarbon phase in place of the aqueous one.
Elizabeth (Beth) Butler rejoined the University of Wyoming in 2020 after working in industry for approximately 7-yrs. She originally obtained her Bachelors degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Wyoming and is now pursuing her Masters degree in Environmental Engineering. Beth’s research, which is sponsored by the Department of Energy (DOE), centers on the development of superhydrophilic membranes via electrospinning/spraying techniques. Membrane fouling is a persistent issue in produced water management applications due to the high concentrations of solids, organics, and in some cases microbiological components. Beth’s works seeks to address these issues by creating a inhospitable attachment conditions to the membrane filter surface. Coupled with the high porosity of electrospun membranes, this membranes developed by Beth will deliver a new tool by which produced water stakeholders can facilitate water reuse in their operation schemes.
More About The University of Wyoming’s Center for Excellence in Produced Water Management (CEPWM)
The University of Wyoming’s Center for Excellence in Produced Water Management (CEPWM) provides innovative science and engineering research for application in the oil and gas industry for the purposes of reducing environmental impacts, improving industry process efficiencies, increasing profitability, and enhancing society benefits. Their efforts center on three key areas of produced water management: treatment technology development, resource extraction and monetization, and economics and logistics of water management. Current projects are directed at developing novel membrane materials for selective recovery of resources from produced waters, such as free hydrocarbons and precious elements (rare earths, lithium). They are also studying the usage of magnetic fields for applications like disinfection without the aid of biocides and scale control.