U of M Researchers Receive $600K to Clean Fracking Waste
Researchers at the University of Minnesota have received a $600,000 federal grant to develop technology that could reduce pollution caused by hydro-fracking.
Hydro-fracking is a method used to release and extract natural gas and oil by forcing water, sand, and chemicals deep into the earth. While the practice has become a common method of natural gas production in the country, opponents have criticized it because it uses large amounts of water that is contaminated in the process.
The U of M said Monday that the grant from the National Science Foundation will fund the development of technology that will use natural bacteria to purify waste water caused by fracking. The university’s research team—which includes professors Larry Wackett, Alptekin Aksan, and Michael Sadowsky—is collaborating with White Bear Lake-based Tundra Companies and Boulder, Colorado-based Luca Technologies to develop the technology.
“There are many efforts ongoing to improve the treatment of water used in fracking and we feel that biotechnology can play a significant role in the overall effort,” lead researcher Wackett said in a statement.
Earlier this year, Wackett and his team also won a $250,000 University of Minnesota “Futures Grant” to explore methods for mitigating the environmental impacts of fracking.
Wide use of fracking in recent years has led to a mining boom in southeastern Minnesota, where there are large deposits of the specialized sand used in the process. Fracking has also become common practice in the oil-rich region of western North Dakota, leading to a boom in population and jobs in the area.