Evaluating the Leachability of Elements from Residuals Generated by Hydraulic Fracturing in Marcellus Shale

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Virginia Tech


The purpose of this research was to characterize the residual solids produced from hydraulic fracturing operations in the Marcellus Shale region. Four field samples were evaluated: drilling mud, treated sludge from the chemical treatment of process water, solids from the gravity settling of produced water, and sludge solidified prior to disposal in a municipal landfill. Cement kiln dust (CKD), used for solidification, was also considered in this study. All samples were subjected to a variety of laboratory techniques to determine their elemental composition and the potential for the elements to leach from the landfill. Strong acid digestion using a 3:1 combination of nitric acid to hydrochloric acid in a microwave with closed vessels was used to determine overall elemental composition. Leaching experiments were performed with de-ionized water and acetic acid (0.57%, pH 2.88) in an attempt to respectively evaluate the effects of weak and strong fluids that might be encountered by the residuals in landfill environments. Elements were analyzed by means of ICP-MS revealing the increased tendency for alkali metals, alkaline earth metals and halogens to leach. Leachablility was further increased for metals when exposed to acidic conditions.



Hydraulic Fracturing, Residual Solids, Trace Metal Characterization, Leaching Potential, Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure, Strong Acid Digestion of Solids, Microwave Assisted Acid Digestion of Solids