West Chester company finds new way to treat drilling water

    Advanced GeoServices won a grant from the National Science Foundation to clean up water used in natural gas drilling

    A West Chester based environmental consulting company got federal funds to develop a new method of treating waste water from natural gas drilling. The award comes at a time when state regulators are deciding how to balance environmental concerns with a drilling boom.

    The state’s gas-rich Marcellus Shale deposits have generated heightened interest from oil companies seeking to cash in on the new energy source, and lawmakers seeking to balance a budget deficit with a severance tax. But environmentalists and state regulators are worried about the ecological impacts, especially when it comes to the waste water.

    The National Science Foundation has given Advanced GeoServices the start-up funds needed to develop a new way of cleaning up the water. Company official Matthew DeMarco says its a two-part process of breaking down the harmful elements and using very fine nano filters.

    “Our process concentrates the liquid waste. And then you would go into alternative use of that waste. It’s a highly concentrated brine solution. It may have and would require some innovation in the market but may have a beneficial reuse for a number of different things.”

    DeMarco says his process could get the waste water to the standard now being discussed by regulators. The gas industry has been fighting the new regulations because they say existing technology can’t treat the water to such a high standard.

    DeMarco says not much has been invested in this technology since drillers have not had to meet tougher standards.

    “That’s been one of the linchpins of the reason behind not investing in technology by the gas company as well as the private venture capitalist. It’s because there is no back-end limitation that’s been developed yet.”

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal