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Bechtel trials low-energy water recovery technology

by Mark Cantrell
Trials of a low energy desalination system are claimed to show that it reclaims over 50% of the waste water it treats, potentially offering a clean and economic supply to communities.

Trials of a low energy desalination system are claimed to show that it reclaims over 50% of the waste water it treats, potentially offering a clean and economic supply to communities.

Bechtel has been carrying out sustained pilot operations for its proprietory Low Energy Ejector Desalination System (LEEDS).

The technology converts produced water from oil and gas fields into what it says are usable, end-marketable products. In turn, it serves to reduce stress on limited freshwater resources.

According to Bechtel, the recovered water can be used for agriculture or grassland irrigation, feedstocks for industrial uses such as hydrogen production, fertilizers for agricultural uses, and clean water for industrial and community applications.

By transforming a costly by-product into a useful resource, LEEDS allows customers to handle produced water responsiblywhile also alleviating water scarcity, the company claims.

Paul Marsden, president of Bechtel Energy, said: “To build a better world, we must confront significant challenges head-on. The crisis of water scarcity in the Permian Basin [in the South Western United States] is growing increasingly prevalent.

“LEEDS is Bechtel’s resolute response, unlocking untapped water resources and transforming produced water into valuable products. LEEDS can revolutionize the treatment of produced water, enabling our customers to reclaim more than half of the water they process each day. This technology yields substantial economic advantages for our customers and communities, forging a path towards a more sustainable future for the Permian Basin and beyond.”

Bechtel has been field testing LEEDS with Deep Blue Holdings, LLC, a portfolio company of Five Point Energy, at a saltwater disposal well near Midland, Texas, in the Permian Basin since December 2023.

Earlier this year, Bechtel announced that the system is consistently treating 400 barrels per day, and meeting all performance specifications for recovery, energy efficiency, and water quality.

At scale, customers using LEEDS could recover enough clean water to meet the daily water needs of the City of Midland, Texas, Bechtel says. Furthermore, the company expects that ongoing pilot operations will prove out further application opportunities, and showcase LEEDS for customers who can benefit most from treating produced water.

David Capobianco, chief executive of Five Point Energy, said: “LEEDS is a transformative solution, and we are honoured to partner with Bechtel on this most critical initiative, which presents compelling benefits for all stakeholders.

“The pilot results represent another milestone in our collective journeys to treat and preserve water in an environmentally efficient and economic manner. With very promising results to date, LEEDS is on a pathway to desalinating produced water, at scale, across the Permian Basin, while reducing reliance on freshwater sources.”

Main image: The LEEDS pilot unit installed and operating at Deep Blue’s saltwater disposal site near the Midland Airport, Texas

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