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Extracting oil, precious metal from wastewater to thrive in next few years

June 19, 2014
KEYWORDS wastewater
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<photocredit>Petr Novak, Wikipedia</photocredit>

Recovery of various substances from wastewater, including oil, precious metals and industrial fats, oils and greases (FOG), is likely to pick up over the next few years, as commodity prices increase and technology for resources recovery from wastewater keeps improving, a new report by market research company Lux Research has found.

In wastewater streams across the globe there are resources potentially worth billions of dollars, if they could be extracted and reused, noted Tess Murray, research associate at Lux Research and author of the report. As prices continue going up recovery of resources makes more economic sense, even for parts-per-million traces of materials, especially crude oil and precious metals, she said.

According to the report, one of the most influential factors that could drive recovery is the upward trend in crude oil prices. But Lux Research pointed out that oil companies using relatively new techniques, like hydraulic fracturing, are yet to catch up with oil recovery best practices, potentially losing between 6 percent and 10 percent of their output through wastewater. Investing approximately $7 million in recovery operations could pay for itself within the first 12 months for oil companies, authors of the report estimate.

Meanwhile, growing demand for biofuels makes FOG recovery an increasingly appealing business. Production of biodiesel soared from 14 million gallons in 2003 to 17.1 billion gallons in 2013 and FOG recovery can be of great use for biodiesel production, the report said.

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