Southpointe-based Consol Energy
has invested $500,000 in Epiphany Solar Water Systems
of New Castle as part of a plan to pilot the solar-powered system to treat frack water from gas drilling.
The pilot will take place at one of Consol’s Marcellus gas well locations in Greene County. The investment gives Consol a minority equity interest in the company.
Epiphany, which made its debut at the Pittsburgh G-20 in 2009 when it passed out bottles of treated water drawn from the Monongahela, has been working on the technical aspects of cleaning production frack water for the last two years, says Ron Pettengill, executive vice president of Epiphany.
“This is harder to deal with and has more waste stream than the immediate flowback water,” conceded Pettengill. “Overall this means less risk, less pollution in the atmosphere and fewer trucks on the road.”
The process is two-stages. The Epiphany process removes minerals and heavy metals from the fluid in the first stage. Solids will be contained, dried and disposed of according to state regulations.
Clean brine that remains is processed in the second stage using concentrated solar power (heat). The by-products, distilled water and salt, may be reused. The treated water is "drinkable," although it's distilled, flat and has little taste says Pettengill.
The process will be powered by direct solar energy. Exton, Pa.-based PMC Biotech will assist Epiphany with bio-filtration during the first stage of the process, which involves a bacteria that eats and traps waste products in industrial applications, says Pettengill.
Epiphany has hired five people and expects to double in size by the end of the summer with a total of 15-20 employees, he adds. The process is expected to reduce costs for Consol, reduce the number of trucks carrying waste product from the site and reduce the amount of water needed for drilling.
"The exciting thing is it’s a real business application for Consol. This could be scaled up. There's so much opportunity to the extent we can mitigate a number of issues that people are concerned about."
"We view Epiphany as another facet of our water management growth strategy, and are very excited about the potential of this green technology and its application to multiple water treatment opportunities," said Nicholas DeIuliis in a prepared statement.
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Ron Pettengill, Epiphany Solar Water Systems