New Mexico ranks 2nd in natural gas production of all producing states and the Gulf Coast region. A significant amount of produced water can be generated during gas production. In 2002, around 3.8 million barrels of produced water were generated during gas production in the San Juan Basin. While obviously not drinkable at the wellhead due to the presence of salts, trace organics, and heavy metals, produced water may be treated for agricultural and industrial purposes. Reclaiming produced water for industrial processes would then free up freshwater resources for other beneficial uses. Membrane separation is a viable option for produced water desalinization; however, its large-scale implementation has been plagued by the recurring fouling of the membranes and the associated high operating costs. The paper describes the components and layout of a bench-scale reverse osmosis (RO) system used to study membrane fouling from the desalination of produced water.

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