Water Purified for Fracking

Posted in: Fracking, Ground Water News, United States Water News, Water Contamination, Water Technology
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Photo credit: Eagleford Texas

Article courtesy of Brandon Klein | November 20, 2014 | Eagleford Texas | Shared as educational material

YOUNGSTOWN — A Youngstown-area native is leading a water treatment company based in Sharon, Pa., as it provides another source of water for the oil and gas industry’s shale operations.

Carolyn Guju Kotsol became president and CEO of Winner Water Services, 32 West State St., in August. The company started in January 2013 as a joint venture between Columbus-based Battelle, the nonprofit research and development organization, and Winner Global LLC, a privately held technology company in Sharon. The goal for the company was to mitigate the hazards of acid-mine drainage, polluted water from early mining practices.

“It really made a lot of sense to bring those efforts under one umbrella,” said Todd Beers, the chief operating officer for Winter Water.

The company opened its new facility, 350 Lardintown Road, in Sarver, Pa., at the site of a former coal mine just northeast of Pittsburgh where it purifies acid-mine drainage to be used in the fracking process.

“It’s a nonportable source of water that’s being clean and reused,” Kotsol said.

As part of $1 million grant from the Department of Energy, the facility uses HydroFlex technology, which was developed by Battelle nearly a decade ago, Kotsol said.

The technology comes with two main functions. The first one implements a patented-chemical blend that eliminates the iron and sulfate from the acid-mine wastewater. The second function is the process design, which is how the blend interacts with the water. Kotsol said the chemical blend can be reused, which brings cost down for the facility and on to their clients when selling the treated water.

The technology would provide cost and environmental benefits to oil and gas companies drilling in the Utica and Marcellus shale, she said.

Originally, the oil and gas industry was not the initial targeted market since it was before the shale boom, Beers said.

“[The oil and gas industry] was a really good fit for the technology,” he said.

On a personal level, Kotsol grew up in the Youngstown area. After attending Canfield High School, Kotsol graduated from Youngstown State University in 1999 with a bachelor of science in chemical engineering.

Kotsol went on to work as a principal engineer and owner of Thermo-Solutions LLC, where she provided process engineering development and design for clients in the bio-based chemicals markets.

She also developed process designs for bio-ethanol as the director of engineering for 14 years with Delta-T Corp., an engineering company in Williamsburg, W.Va. While at Delta-T, she earned her masters in business administration from the College of William and Mary.

She joined Battelle in 2012 as the manager of the Process Engineering Systems Resource Group. Eventually, she would replace John Ontiveros as president and CEO of Winter Water since he would be returning to Battelle after directing the startup of the company.

“It brings me back to my roots here,” she said. Kotsol will split her time among Columbus, Sharon and Sarver.

The next stage for the technology would be treating flowback and produced water from the fracking process, though it may be some time before Winner Water moves in that direction.

“Right now we’re focused on this opportunity for the industry,” Kotsol said.

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