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Degradation of polyethylene glycols and polypropylene glycols in microcosms simulating a spill of produced water in shallow groundwater

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Abstract

Polyethylene glycols (PEGs) and polypropylene glycols (PPGs) are frequently used in hydraulic fracturing fluids and have been detected in water returning to the surface from hydraulically fractured oil and gas wells in multiple basins. We identified degradation pathways and kinetics for PEGs and PPGs under conditions simulating a spill of produced water to shallow groundwater. Sediment-groundwater microcosm experiments were conducted using four produced water samples from two Denver-Julesburg Basin wells at early and late production. High-resolution mass spectrometry was used to identify the formation of mono- and di-carboxylated PEGs and mono-carboxylated PPGs, which are products of PEG and PPG biodegradation, respectively. Under oxic conditions, first-order half-lives were more rapid for PEGs (<0.4–1.1 d) compared to PPGs (2.5–14 d). PEG and PPG degradation corresponded to increased relative abundance of primary alcohol dehydrogenase genes predicted from metagenome analysis of the 16S rRNA gene. Further degradation was not observed under anoxic conditions. Our results provide insight into the differences between the degradation rates and pathways of PEGs and PPGs, which may be utilized to better characterize shallow groundwater contamination following a release of produced water.

Graphical abstract: Degradation of polyethylene glycols and polypropylene glycols in microcosms simulating a spill of produced water in shallow groundwater

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Publication details

The article was received on 30 Jun 2018, accepted on 08 Sep 2018 and first published on 11 Sep 2018


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C8EM00291F
Citation: Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2019, Advance Article
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    Degradation of polyethylene glycols and polypropylene glycols in microcosms simulating a spill of produced water in shallow groundwater

    J. D. Rogers, E. M. Thurman, I. Ferrer, J. S. Rosenblum, M. V. Evans, P. J. Mouser and J. N. Ryan, Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2019, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C8EM00291F

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