Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Ricardo A. Bernal


In recent years, environmental concerns have urged companies in the energy sector to modify their industrial activities to facilitate greater environmental stewardship. For example, the practice of unconventional oil and gas extraction has drawn the ire of regulators and various environmental groups due to its reliance on millions of barrels of fresh water for hydraulic fracturing well stimulation, which is generally withdrawn from natural sources and public water supplies. Additionally, this process generates two substantial waste streams, which are collectively characterized as flowback and produced water. Whereas flowback water is comprised of various chemical additives that are used during hydraulic fracturing; produced water is a complex mixture of microbiota, inorganic and organic constituents derived from the petroliferous strata. Numerous treatment modalities have been employed over the years to eradicate bacterial communities in industrial wastewater. Oxidizing agents and chemical additives such as ozone, per-manganate, glutaraldehyde, and chlorine, are effective in treating microbial contaminants that are typically found in domestic wastewater. However, the chemical complexity of produced water from fracking requires novel approaches because microbes have developed mechanisms to overcome the typical disinfectants. In this work, we provide contrast the benefits of treating vs deep-injecting produced water, highlighting the umbrella of opportunities available once the wastewater is treated accordingly. The work also includes a discussion of the various bacterial communities that have been previously found in hydraulic fracturing wastewater as well as the analytical tools typically employed in their characterization. Finally, we test the effectiveness of bacteriophages for the eradication of two model bacteria from produced water: Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Bacillus megaterium. These bacteria were grown in low salinity produced water and exposed to their corresponding phage. Overall, total inactivation of the P. aeruginosa population was achieved, as well as inactivation of B. megaterium. These promising results provide a potentially useful tool for bacterial elimination in the overall PW treatment at an industrial scale. Particularly since phage treatment is a rapid and cost-effective alternative.




Received from ProQuest

File Size

82 p.

File Format


Rights Holder

Ramon Antonio Sanchez Rosario

Included in

Chemistry Commons