FY17 WVWRI & USGS 104b Request for Proposals

Written by Andrew Stacy on . Posted in Funding, News

Background

The West Virginia Water Research Institute is requesting proposals for research expected to be funded March 1, 2017 through February 28, 2018. The U.S. Geological Survey will sponsor the research. Faculty from all West Virginia colleges and universities are encouraged to submit proposals. It is expected that up to 4 projects will be funded at $10,000 each. The closing date is December 21, 2016.

Proposals are invited that enhance the Environmental STEM Research Program at the Boy Scouts of America’s Summit Bechtel Reserve in Mount Hope, West Virginia. Successful applicants will develop aspects of the proposed research into a curriculum that will be taught to Boy Scouts of varying ages, typically 12-20 years of age. Proposed research and activities should complement the current Environmental STEM Research Program at the BSA Bechtel Summit and fit into the framework already established. Research areas already established in the program include Ecohydrology, Wetland Ecology and Phenology.

Research topics of primary interest include stream recovery from mining operations and indicators of long term climatic trends.

Closing Date:

December 21, 2016

Eligibility Requirements

Eligible applicants are faculty members or affiliates at institutions of higher education in the State of West Virginia.

Ineligible applicants are the following:

    a. Applications for research on health effects involving human subjects.
    b. Applications for research involving oceanography (estuarine research applications are acceptable).
    c. Applications submitted by principal investigator(s) that have not met reporting requirements on a previous award by the USGS.

View and download the RFP by clicking the image below.

Pages from RFP USGS 104b program FY17

WVU Study will Determine amount of rare earth elements in the region’s coal mining waste

Written by Andrew Stacy on . Posted in News, Press Release

(Photo credit - WVU University Relations Communications)

(Photo credit – WVU University Relations Communications)

MORGANTOWN, W.VA. –The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory recently awarded West Virginia University (WVU) a project to survey acid mine drainage (AMD) solids to identify the concentration and amount of rare earth elements available in AMD solids.

The new project will sample and analyze AMD solids from 120 AMD treatment sites at coal mines across the northern and central Appalachian coal basins in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio. This follows a February 2016 NETL award to WVU to explore the potential to recover and extract rare earth elements from AMD solids, a project that is currently underway.

Acid mine drainage from pre-law coal mines is a major stream pollutant in the Appalachian region. However, when treated to meet current regulatory requirements, it yields solids that have proven enriched in critical rare earth elements.

“We will work with members of the coal industry and state agencies that are engaged in treating AMD to sample their solids” said Dr. Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute and principal investigator on the project.

This new effort is in support of the DOE’s ongoing program to recover rare earth elements from coal and coal by-products.

Rare earth elements are vital to the technology industry. These elements have numerous applications and are used in devices such as cell phones, medical equipment and defense applications. Conventional rare earth recovery methods are difficult, expensive and generate large volumes of contaminated waste.
In addition to providing a domestic supply of these critical industrial materials, this approach would incentivize AMD treatment and offset treatment costs while continuing to improve the quality of Appalachian streams.

Appalachian coal mines commonly generate AMD, when sulfide minerals in rock are exposed to air and water. This acid leaches rare earths from coal associated rock where it collects as AMD. Active coal mines are required to treat this AMD, which concentrates and precipitates rare earth elements.

“Together, the rare earths in AMD solids range in value from $45 to $125/kg and our early sampling indicated that AMD solids contain between 0.3 and 1.5 kg of total rare earth elements per ton of AMD solid” said Ziemkiewicz.

Ziemkiewicz, along with co-investigators Xingbo Liu, professor of mechanical engineering, and Aaron Noble, professor of mining engineering, in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources will estimate the volume of acid mine drainage that is available in the northern and central Appalachian coalfields, as well as the purity and amount of rare earth elements that could be recovered. The research team will be assisted by Ben Faulkner, an independent contractor from Princeton, West Virginia, who has extensive experience with acid mine drainage treatment plants across the Appalachian region.

“Acid mine drainage solids are generated at treatment plants, and Ben’s familiarity with these facilities will be a tremendous asset to the project,” said Ziemkiewicz.

CONTACT: Paul Ziemkiewicz, West Virginia Water Research Institute
304.293.6958, Paul.Ziemkiewicz@mail.wvu.edu

WVU a Hotbed of Research Activity

Written by Janet Metzner, Legal Reporter, The Intelligencer on . Posted in Media, News

Which Fracking Water To Watch

Paul Ziemkiewicz, director, West Virginia Water Research Institute, says the general public often worries about the wrong water in the fracking process.

The water that becomes contaminated is what’s removed from the well, he explained, citing research from the Marcellus Shale Energy and Environmental Laboratory. It’s located along the Monongahela River in Morgantown, and its researchers are focused on improving production of natural gas and oil.

The university launched the four-acre lab in 2014, as a partnership with Northeast Natural Energy, the National Energy Technology Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy, and The Ohio State University, according to a June 26, 2015, article in “WVU Today” magazine.

Basically, it’s the water coming out of the well, called end-of-cycle water, that is contaminated, not the water going into the wells, Ziemkiewicz said. And the big issue is “what to do with the water coming out,” he said.

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Researchers at KU, WVU to strengthen water-stewardship practices for U.S. energy production

Written by Tracy Novak, National Research Center for Coal and Energy on . Posted in News, Press Release

Every year in the U.S., a whopping 20 billion barrels of water are generated as a byproduct of domestic oil and gas recovery, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Safe and environmentally responsible management of this “produced water” is important to energy companies, farmers, ecosystems and everyday people whose drinking water comes from associated aquifers.

Now, a joint research effort founded by the University of Kansas and West Virginia University — funded by a new $4 million grant from the National Science Foundation — aims to develop cutting-edge strategies for better management, treatment, protection and recovery of produced water. The scientists behind the work hope to establish a permanent center focused on research-proven best practices for handling produced water nationwide.

“Obviously, we need energy,” said Edward Peltier, KU associate professor of civil, environmental and architectural engineering, who is the primary investigator of the new project. “We use energy resources every day, and we’ll continue to use them. That means the better job we do producing energy in an efficient, clean manner — and not affecting other resources like water quality — the better off we are.”

Paul Ziemkiewicz, co-PI of the new grant and director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute at WVU, pointed out that until now there has been no nationally coordinated research effort to address issues tied to produced water.

“NSF’s support will create a national center for technology development as well as training and outreach to recruit a new generation of specialists to address this challenge,” he said.

All oil and gas production, whether by conventional or hydraulic fracturing methods, generates produced water. Its characteristics vary among the nation’s petroleum basins.

“It’s a combination of returned water injected into the ground as part of oil and gas recovery, as well as formation water, trapped inside the rock along with the petroleum — how much water comes out depends on the local geology. Kansas wells produce more water than oil,” Peltier said.

Ziemkiewicz added that Appalachian shale gas wells are net water consumers.

“So far, new well completions have absorbed most of our produced water, but as new completions decline, we need to find new ways to manage this water,” he said.

Across the country, this water has high salt content and other contaminants.

As a result, the researchers said there are issues with reusing water directly or discharging it on the surface. Currently, the leading form of disposal of produced water is reinjection into the subsurface. The practice has gained notoriety in some regions because of its association with earthquakes. Indeed, Kansas now puts regulatory curbs on deep-well re-injection of produced water.

The research under the new NSF grant will develop practices to improve the safety of deep-well injection and develop economical methods for treating produced water so that it can be reused.

“We want to come up with management and treatment techniques so we can reuse this water,” Peltier said. “It needs to be treated before it can be reused. This project is focused on ways to treat the water, to manage the production process so we have less wastewater to deal with and looking at the impact of water in ecosystems when it’s released. How much do we treat it so it doesn’t have harmful effects?”

Differences in the geology of plains Kansas and mountainous West Virginia mean the joint investigation into produced water at KU and WVU will have national application.

“We’ll initially focus on the central plains and Appalachian basins,” Peltier said. “We think there will broader applicability to the work we do that will apply to other petroleum basins.”

Moreover, the research assets of the partner institutions will complement each other. For instance, WVU operates the Marcellus Shale Energy and Environment Laboratory, a long-term field site supported by the DOE National Energy Technology Laboratory. WVU researchers led by Ziemkiewicz are studying water used in hydraulic fracturing through the late stages of the produced water cycle.

Similarly, KU has field resources already established that will sustain the partnership.

“KU has the Tertiary Oil Recovery Program that has worked with oil producers in Kansas developing various recovery strategies and large-scale field tests,” Peltier said. “The goal here is both KU and WVU have overlap in energy and production and water treatment and protection. So we want to establish a long-term relationship, so even at end of this grant we’ll have additional cross-disciplinary and cross-university projects extending beyond the length of the grant.”

Students at both universities will benefit from new programs created by the grant, which the researchers said would help train a new generation of experts in sustainable oil and gas recovery practices.

“We’ll have undergraduate students cross-training each other’s universities and departments to strengthen research ties and match students with instructors at both schools, and we’ll have junior faculty going back and forth to establish partners they can work with in the lab, in the field and at the well in West Virginia,” said Peltier.

Programs involved in the new NSF grant include KU’s Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering, Tertiary Oil Recovery Program and Department of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering. In addition to the Water Research Institute, the WVU team includes Lance Lin, civil and environmental engineering Harry Finklea, chemistry Joe Donovan, geology Todd Petty and Eric Merriam of wildlife and fisheries, and Shawn Grushecky of the Energy Land Management Program.

-WVU-

CONTACT: Tracy Novak, National Research Center for Coal and Energy
304.293.6928, Tracy.Novak@mail.wvu.edu