The Polar Bear Water Treatment Facility, after receiving approval from the Environmental Protection Agency, began operations in south-central Wyoming at the end of 2012.
In addition to removing any leftover petroleum and most chemicals from the water recovered from fracking operations, the plant uses two different evaporative technologies to remove salts from water. In the summer, the plant uses enhanced evaporation while in the winter it uses freeze-crystallization to pull clean water from fracking fluids. The two technologies used together are called freeze-thaw evaporation or FTE, and allow the plant to operate year-round.
"This process is a lot more 'active' than the usual evaporative ponds," explained Tim Stamp, business development director with Coffey Engineering. Coffey Engineering assisted with the plant's permitting process, and CEO Dave Coffey is one of the four partners in the Polar Bear plant.
The treated water can be used for drilling and dust abatement. The plan is eventually to be able to use the treated water for crop irrigation, Stamp said.
The 80-acre Polar Bear Water Treatment Facility is located about 14 miles west of Rawlins, and 1.5 miles northwest of I-80. The facility is fenced and staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
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