Sodium removal from Maramarua coal seam gas waters using Ngakuru zeolites
Coal seam gas (CSG) waters are a by-product of natural gas extraction from underground coal seams. The main issue with these waters is their elevated sodium content, which in conjunction with their low calcium and magnesium concentrations can generate soil infiltration problems in the long run, as well as short term toxicity effects in plants due to the sodium ion itself. Zeolites are minerals having a porous structure, crystalline characteristics, and an alumino-silicate configuration resulting in an overall negative charge which is balanced by loosely held cations. In New Zealand, Ngakuru zeolites have been mined for commercial use in wastewater treatment applications, cosmetics, and pet litter. This research focuses on assessing the capacity of Ngakuru zeolites to reduce sodium concentrations of CSG waters from Maramarua. Batch and column test (flow through) experiments revealed that Ngakuru zeolites are capable of sorbing sodium cations from concentrated solutions of sodium. In batch tests, the sodium adsorption capacity ranged from 5.0 to 34.3meq/100g depending on the solution concentration and on the number of times the zeolite had been regenerated. Regeneration with CaCl2 KEYWORDS was found to be effective. The calculated sodium adsorption capacity of Ngakuru zeolites under flow-through conditions ranged from 11 to 42meq/100g depending on the strength of the solution being treated and on whether the zeolites had been previously regenerated. The slow kinetics and low cost of the zeolities, coupled with potentially remote sites for gas extraction, could make semi-batch operational processes without regeneration more favourable than in more industrial ion exchange situations.