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GE and memsys Achieve Technology Milestone for Unconventional Gas Water Treatment

September 23, 2013

  • Membrane Distillation Technology Replicates Conventional Thermal Evaporation Process While Using Less Energy and Lowering the Cost and the Carbon Footprint of Evaporation
  • Field Project Proves Effective for High-Salinity Produced Water

TREVOSE, PA.—September 23, 2013—After 200 hours of continuous operation at a Texas-based commercial disposal well, GE (NYSE: GE) and memsys® clearwater Pte. Ltd. announced success for a new vapor compressor-driven membrane distillation (MD) system. memsys and GE will further discuss the development and use of MD to treat produced water at the ”Water and Energy 2013” conference that takes place in Houston, Texas, on September 25, 2013.

The new system, which is used to concentrate produced water from the hydraulic fracturing process, was designed to reduce produced water disposal costs and enable water reuse. The joint project demonstrated that MD combined with vapor compression can handle the high-salinity produced waters associated with unconventional gas exploration and production. The field test has yielded positive results, which include:

  • 100 percent process uptime without any noticeable decline in performance or need for cleaning.
  • Stable performance with brine concentrations near saturation.
  • Lower energy consumption compared to conventional technology.
  • High distillate quality.

“As the cost of brine concentration comes down it will enable more sustainable treatment options compared to trucking and deep well disposal,” said Bill Heins, general manager, thermal products—water and process technologies for GE Power & Water. “Since the cleaned water from the process can be reused it also will reduce the amount of fresh water needed per well, thereby further reducing costs and ecological impact.”

With the project complete, the companies plan to continue to demonstrate this technology in other geographies and applications, as well as scaling up the process.

“The ability to treat even the most challenging wastewaters with our process in combination with a vapor compressor, instead of the normally used waste heat, increases the number of possible applications even further,” said Götz Lange, CEO of memsys. “GE has been an excellent partner on this technological breakthrough, and we look forward to continuing commercializing this technology for produced water treatment for the oil and gas industry. In this context, memsys is increasing the production volume for its modules eight-fold, sufficient for the installation of up to 50,000 m3 of daily water treatment capacity annually, which will be used across all possible applications for the memsys process.”

GE and memsys entered into an agreement in 2012 to jointly develop MD technology for the fast-growing unconventional resources marketplace, including shale gas, coal seam gas and other unconventional fuels recovered by hydraulic fracturing. Under the terms of the agreement, GE will invest in testing the technology and in return receive an exclusive license for the use of the technology in these applications.

About memsys

Based in Germany and Singapore, memsys (www.memsys.eu) is a leading-edge developer of vacuum distillation technology for various applications. Its patent-protected thermal separation modules are used for wastewater treatment in the oil, gas and steel industries, brine concentration, low temperature distillation and low energy desalination or alcohol distillation. memsys’ robust technology is based on vacuum-driven multi-effect membrane distillation (V-MEMD), a highly efficient thermal separation process in a compact, modular concept. These modules perform all steps of the membrane distillation process including a multi-effect energy recovery. memsys’ technology can be operated using waste heat to produce a high-quality distillate and effortlessly treats a variety of feed waters including wastewater feeds with high TDS content.

About GE

GE (NYSE: GE) works on things that matter. The best people and the best technologies taking on the toughest challenges. Finding solutions in energy, health and home, transportation and finance. Building, powering, moving and curing the world. Not just imagining. Doing. GE works. For more information, visit the company's website at www.ge.com.

About GE Power & Water

GE Power & Water provides customers with a broad array of power generation, energy delivery and water process technologies to solve their challenges locally. Power & Water works in all areas of the energy industry including renewable resources such as wind and solar, biogas and alternative fuels; and coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy. The business also develops advanced technologies to help solve the world’s most complex challenges related to water availability and quality. Power & Water’s six business units include Distributed Power, Nuclear Energy, Power Generation Services, Renewable Energy, Thermal Products and Water & Process Technologies. Headquartered in Schenectady, N.Y., Power & Water is GE’s largest industrial business.

Follow GE Power & Water and GE’s water business on Twitter @GE_PowerWater and @GE_Water.

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