Environmental Defense Fund Inc.

To undertake exploratory pilot research projects examining the environmental impacts of shale oil and gas development that include the development of improved wastewater characterization techniques and biological treatment methodologies

  • Amount $400,000
  • City New York, NY
  • Investigator Steven Hamburg
  • Year 2016
  • Program Energy and Environment
  • Sub-program

This grant supports two projects led by the Environmental Defense Fund to investigate the environmental impacts of the wastewater used in the extraction of shale gas and oil. In the first project, EDF will partner with chemist Michael Thurman from the University of Colorado, Boulder to develop standard methods for identifying the chemical characteristics of wastewater generated by hydraulic fracturing. Fracking wastewater can differ significantly from site to site due to procedural and environmental factors. Wastewater from different sites might have vastly different environmental impacts, and thus necessitate different treatment and disposal procedures. Thurman’s research will allow for the characterization of wastewater samples from across different fracking sites and enable the creation of standardized reference benchmarks that researchers can use to better determine the constituents of fracking wastewater. In the second project, EDF will work with environmental engineer Karl Linden of the University of Colorado, Boulder, and molecular biologist Kartik Chandran of Columbia University to develop better treatment and disposal techniques for wastewater produced by hydraulic fracturing. In a series of experiments, Linden and Chandran will explore how biological treatment processes could be used to metabolize the organic compounds present in such wastewater. In addition to providing scientific and technical input to their scientific partners, EDF will help manage each collaboration, and assist in disseminating the research results.

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