Researchers from Texas A&M University have determined that critical minerals make up produced water — the waste byproduct of oil and gas extraction operations often considered too polluted and expensive to clean.

This waste byproduct reportedly includes virtually every element in the periodic table — for instance, minerals like lithium, rubidium, cesium, gallium and platinum group metals, which are fundamental to computer, energy and transportation industries as well as substances such as sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium used in manufacturing processes, fertilizer production and other industries.

Source: Texas A&M EngineeringSource: Texas A&M Engineering

As such, the researchers aim to treat the waste byproduct and subsequently recover the valuable elements via carbon dioxide (CO2) desalination in stages using various filtration technologies, including ultrafiltration, nanofiltration and even reverse osmosis.

The goal of the Texas A&M team, once the critical materials are recovered and the process is complete, is that fresh water could potentially be produced for agricultural use.

The process is detailed in the article, "Liquid Goldmine: unlocking the Critical Mineral Potential of Produced Water using Carbon Dioxide," which appears in the Journal of Petroleum Technology.

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