Mining Sector Case Study
Increased Evaporation Rate by >60x, Enabling Higher Production and 85% Lower Costs vs. Alternatives
Example: A Large Mineral Mine in the United States
ECOVAP’s Value Proposition in the Mining Sector:
ECOVAP’s enhanced evaporation technology has several applications in the mining industry:
i) Concentration – to complement technologies that are used in the extraction of targeted or residual elements that are in the water (i.e., such as rare earths, including lithium), ECOVAP can inexpensively increase TDS to 250kppm. This reduces any transportation cost to a processing facility, as well as the energy and chemicals needed in the process.
ii) ZLD and Permanent Disposal – for contaminated waters and tailing ponds, ECOVAP’s ability to reduce the volume of wastewater by 80-95% implies a similar reduction in transportation (if needed, to disposal site) and disposal costs, or investment in costly water management systems.
The client is a large metal mine with a ZLD requirement seeking to increase production capabilities. The mine had previously built four (4) large conventional evaporation ponds that occupied all of its permitted land, thus capping production. As is typical of many mining operations, this mine is remotely located, with limited electricity and no nearby wastewater disposal sites. Without changing its land footprint, ECOVAP was able to build multiple Evaporation Matrices directly on the pond (“EM-Floats™”). The EM-Float design targets evaporation ponds that already exist, and enables the Evaporation Matrices™ to rest atop specially designed pontoons on the surface of the ponds. The EM-Floats™consume a small fraction of the electricity of atomizing sprayers. The system is also connected to large cables to ensure stability for high-gusty winds in the region.
In four months from groundbreaking to completion, ECOVAP was able to install multiple EM-Float™ matrices to evaporate water at over 60x the normal rate per square foot of surface space. This was done without any increase in the land footprint of the site, which was previously a very limiting production factor with the site’s conventional evaporation ponds. As a result, this mine will be increase production of the mine and eliminate water disposal as a limiting factor for future growth. Estimates meet or exceed an 85% lower cost compared to the alternative of trucking the wastewater to a disposal site and 50% less costs than alternate water disposal technologies.
Oil/Gas Produced Water Case Study
Reducing Costs by 35% and Trucking by 95%, While Eliminating Many Environmental Risks
Example: An Oil/Gas Well in the Eagle Ford Basin, Texas
Actual EM-Tower™in Eagle Ford, Texas
ECOVAP’s Value Proposition in Oil/Gas:
With its biomimicry-based enhanced evaporation technology, ECOVAP can reduce produced water disposal costs by 30-50%. In addition, given the ability to locate at the well-head, truck transport volumes and costs are reduced by 75-95%.
The vast majority of produced water (~93%) is disposed of in underground Class-II injection wells (“SWDs), with most of the remaining market served by large “conventional” evaporation ponds (5%). SWD disposal is costly, particularly in the transportation to the wells and in the pressure required to pump the wastewater into underground cavities. In addition, these wells are under increasing regulatory scrutiny as the pressurized water has been known to cause earthquakes, leaks from the formation cavity can contaminate freshwater aquifers, and have been found bubbling up uncontrollably into farmers fields destroying crops. On the other hand, conventional evaporation ponds also have an enormous land footprint, and leaks and overflow problems are common. Without ECOVAP’s enhanced evaporation technology, conventional evaporation ponds are generally limited to hot, dry areas.
The client is an oil/gas E+P with many of its wells located in remote areas, far from any SWD injection wells. As a result, a significant portion of the client’s all-in production cost was in paying for trucks to transport the wastewater to SWDs. ECOVAP had previously demonstrated its ability to locate its Evaporation Matrices at pre-existing wastewater disposal sites, competing head-to-head with SWDs and/or as a low cost means of exponentially increasing the evaporation capacity of conventional evaporation ponds.
However, in 2018 the company developed various components and design features for evaporating water where it is generated – for the oil/gas sector, at the well-head. With this new Evaporation Matrix Tower (“EM-Tower™”), ECOVAP is able to help E+P’s avoid nearly all of the transportation cost (except for a residual slurry at around 190,000ppm) in an environmentally safe way.
In early 2019, ECOVAP completed its first EM-Tower™pilot in Texas’ Eagle Ford region in less than one month construction time. As a result, the E+P client has been able to eliminate 95% of the trucking trips, with only a remaining slurry needing to be vacuum-pumped out once the small catchment fills with salts and contaminants. As anticipated, scaling on the EM-Tower™ is minimal given the self-washing of continuous water flow. However, the design of the EM-Tower™ allows ECOVAP to periodically wash away any residual build-up without using an external water supply as part of the service, if necessary in the long term. ECOVAP estimates that the client’s all-in wastewater disposal costs decreased by >35%, partly reflecting a lower disposal cost, but mainly by virtually eliminating its trucking costs.
Regulators have also expressed a highly positive view of the on-site wastewater volume reduction as the reduction in trucking also implies a significant reduction in C02 emissions, traffic and roadwear. In addition, the reduced wastewater volume also implies much less stress (and required PSI and/or de-clogging chemicals) on local SWD’s which are being linked to increasing earthquakes in Texas.
Other ECOVAP Produced Water Disposal Site Deployments
Power Plant “FGD” Case Study
A Thermoelectric Power Plant in the Northern Rockies
Reducing Costs by >40% With No Change in Land Footprint
ECOVAP’s Value Proposition for Power Plant Wastewater:
ECOVAP can reduce power plant wastewater management costs by up to 40% capex and 50% opex via environmentally-friendly enhanced evaporation. This is done by constructing large Evaporation Matrices (“ECOVAP-EMs™” or “EMs™”) to exponentially expand the surface-space of wastewater-to-air. The EMs are assembled in a Lego-like construction, using thousands of panels that are made of 100% recycled HDPE plastic, specially treated to be hydrophilic. Using low pressure pumps, the EMs are periodically wetted with wastewater, which slowly descends over millions of square inches of shapes and angles embedded in the design. The ECOVAP process allows metals, salts and other contaminants to precipitate in existing ponds or other catch basins while the vast majority of the volume of water is naturally evaporated and returned to the hydrologic cycle.
The client owns a large thermoelectric power plant in the Northern Rockies. Power plants require large volumes of water for their cooling towers, quenching bottom ash, and flue-gas scrubbing. Power plant wastewater usually contains many contaminants, including sulphur and salts, and can be high in heavy metals due to the process of flue-gas desulfurization (“FGD”). Historically, this wastewater was discharged into open land, large evaporation ponds or into underground injection wells. However, the EPA finalized new power plant effluent guidelines in 2015, establishing a path toward zero discharge of pollutants from the fly ash and bottom ash waste streams. The federal laws include the first limits on the levels of heavy metals in wastewater (which increased with parallel requirements to use wet “scrubbers” and FGD for reducing GHGs being released into the air) that can be discharged from power plants.
In mid-2019, ECOVAP completed a pilot EM-Tower™ at the client’s power plant to evaporate water at >60x the normal rate. While the evaporation rate fluctuates seasonally, ECOVAP EMs are able to continue operating for most of the winter as the movement of the water and some salinity prevent freezing. This is in contrast to conventional holding or evaporation ponds which can freeze over in the winter. ECOVAP estimates a 40%+ reduction in all-in wastewater disposal cost reduction for this facility. Due to its ability to leverage the biomimicry of Mother Nature’s evaporation, both the cost and environmental benefits are significant: a.) the EM uses very low energy and has practically no other cash operating costs; b.) the EM-Tower was deployed on existing land space; a comparable evaporation pond would have taken up around 50x the land space; and, c.) with the volume of water reduced by >80%, the final slurry will be much less expensive to transport either for processing (i.e., to a water “mining” facility) and/or for final disposal.
Other Site Deployments: