background image
idea to develop an acoustic separation technology
that works at the macroscale.¡±
FloDesign Sonics¡¯ patented system, called Acous-
tic Wave Separation (AWS), was designed to treat
produced water from hydraulic fracturing (fracking)
operations that extract natural gas. The amount of
produced water generated at a fracking site changes
over the lifetime of the well and depends on the
geologic formation, but can reach 100,000 gallons
per day.
¡°It¡¯s challenging for current technologies to remove
particles smaller than 20 microns without the ad-
dition of chemicals,¡± Dionne said. ¡°AWS separates
particulates, oil droplets, sand and bacteria as small
as 1 micron.¡±
Produced water treated with the AWS system meets
or exceeds the Environmental Protection Agency¡¯s
standards for safe discharge.
¡°With NSF funding, we have scaled up our technol-
ogy to an industrially relevant scale,¡± Dionne said.
¡°We now have a 7,000 -gallon per day prototype that
we are ready to pilot with a partner. The ultimate
goal for our technology within the oil and gas industry is to build a system
capable of processing 100,000 gallons per day.
Dionne said that compared to current methods for treating produced wa-
ter, the AWS system would reduce energy and chemical usage by up to 75
Beyond oil and gas
FloDesign Sonics¡¯ proprietary technology has potential for separations in
many sectors beyond oil and gas. One sector showing special promise is
life science. Not only is the technique gentle on living cells, which can be
damaged when separated by traditional methods, it also is able to separate
particles of any size, overcoming a limitation of current filtration techniques.
The company can picture the technology being used one day for cleaning
and transfusing a patient¡¯s own blood during surgery.
In the nearer term, acoustic wave separation may be used to recover bio-
logical products from mammalian cells, which requires a purification process
with high yield, product consistency and reproducibility.
In April 2016, FloDesign Sonics will introduce its first product, a system that
harvests therapeutic proteins and antibodies for biopharmaceutical manufac-
turing. Later in 2016, the company will introduce a second product, designed
for continuous production of proteins from mammalian cell cultures.
The company is currently investigating applications in (continued pg 3>>)
Elegant & Efficient Water Treatment Method Invented
AWS system would reduce energy/chemical usage by up to 75%
Time to plant a
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Fishing Derby at
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The Charlie Daniels
Band... Pg 14
Acoustic technique presents fresh take on
water treatment; Technology could solve
longstanding problem of separating
suspended contaminants from water
March 22, 2016: When oil and gas are extracted
from the earth, water also comes to the surface.
Known as produced water, it contains naturally oc-
curring hydrocarbons, salt, bacteria, radioactive ma-
terial and other compounds, as well as any chemical
additives used to ease extraction.
Each year, the U.S. alone generates more than 21
billion barrels (approximately 900 billion gallons) of
produced water from oil and gas extraction, includ-
ing hydraulic fracturing. To treat this water before
disposal or reuse, the industry depends on filtration
and separation technologies.
Typically, dispersed particles or droplets are removed
from a host liquid using a series of complex tech-
niques. These techniques are energy intensive and
may require the addition of chemicals to work. They
have also proven inefficient at removing the tiniest
oil droplets and contaminants.
2016 APR/MAY #7-2
With funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), FloDesign Son-
ics, a small business based in Wilbraham, Massachusetts, has developed
a new, efficient separation technology that can help clean produced water.
The company¡¯s design uses acoustic waves to continuously capture and
separate substances from water or other liquids without using filters or
FloDesign Sonics demonstrated their separation technology at the White
House Water Summit March 22.
Sound separation
At the heart of FloDesign Sonics¡¯ system is a method called acoustophore-
sis, in which droplets or particles within a liquid can be manipulated with a
special acoustic wave pattern. The new system uses a pattern of ultrasonic
waves in the megahertz range.
The wave pattern exerts acoustic forces that bind substances dispersed in
the liquid into clusters. Depending on their relative density compared to
the liquid, these larger clusters either settle to the bottom or rise to the
surface, where they can be separated easily.
¡°Acoustophoresis has been used primarily in microfluidics and other micro-
scale systems,¡± explained Jason Dionne, co-founder and senior engineer of
FloDesign Sonics. ¡°When the U.S. Army was looking for a technology for
rapid detection of anthrax spores in large bodies of water, we got the
FloDesign Sonics developed a new acoustic
wave technology to clean water that comes
to the surface during natural gas extrac-
tion by hydraulic fracturing (also known as
fracking). Image: FloDesign Sonics, Inc