There are lots of uses for ordinary table salt. You can remove wine stains from carpet, water rings from wood, light rust from tools, etc. But one company has found a way to use it to safely remove harmful bacteria from produced water in hydraulic fracturing operations.

When you consider the sheer volume of water needed for fracking operations and the significant scope of cleaning needed to decontaminate produced water for reuse or recycling, you start to see dollar signs adding up.

According to Charles Mowrey, director of business development in oil and gas for MIOX, that is not the case with MIOX’s oxidant generators. They dispense its bacteria-disinfectant chemistries using only salt, water and electricity.

MIOX uses an electrolytic cell to create sodium hypochlorite (hypo) or a mixed oxidant solution (MOS) from the water and salt. MOS is simply hypo and peroxide. The solutions are ready for use after electrolysis occurs in the cell.

“It is very elegant and simple in my opinion, but there’s been 18 years of science really put into this,” Mowrey said. “MIOX is able to put more energy into the solution so we actually liberate not just chlorine but also hydrogen peroxide, and we do this very, very efficiently, using the least amount of salt and the least amount of power possible.”

This simplicity is what makes MIOX’s water-treatment chemistry less expensive and safer for the environment and those that work with it, he said. It requires no Hazmat reporting.

“You can put your arm in this and it’s not going to burn you. You can just wash it off with water,” he said. “If it spills, it’s not going to hurt anything. This really is one of the rare cases where safer can actually be lower cost.”

MIOX can treat 20,000 bbl/d to 100,000 bbl/d of produced water with its Blackwater unit, he said. Blackwater, which is essentially the MIOX water-treatment technology in mobile form, uses the MOS solution and, depending on the application, can run automatically without needing to have a dedicated person working with it onsite. It creates disinfectant when it’s needed and in the amount that’s needed, Mowrey said.

“Conventional biocides are literally poisons; they poison the bacteria to kill them, and the bacteria become resistant to them over time, causing super strains,” he said.
MIOX’s MOS, however, completely kills virtually all acid-producing bacteria and sulfate-reducing bacteria without giving the bacteria a chance to become immune to the chemistry or feed off it and morph into a much larger problem.

As operators continue seeking new technologies and ways to reduce their environmental impact, they should consider the replacement of harmful biocides. After all, why create mutant bacteria and put your people and environment at risk when a little table salt can do the trick?