Ohio University

Sustainable Shale Development

Development of U.S. unconventional oil and gas resources (i.e., shale) over the past decade has significantly influenced domestic and international energy markets. U.S. shale resource growth has caused a resurgence in both domestic energy infrastructure and chemical manufacturing. However, new issues need to be addressed: 1) management of waste water generated by unconventional oil/gas wells, 2) rapid production decline associated with unconventional wells, and 3) lack of Appalachian Basin petrochemical infrastructure to convert plentiful natural gas liquids (NGLs) into products.

Shale Schematic

ISEE’s shale R&D programming is focused on improving the environmental and economic sustainability of unconventional resources through technology development. Programming includes development of novel supercritical technologies to remediate high-salinity produced water generated by oil/gas wells; study of downhole geochemistry during shut-in periods using experimental, modeling, and spectroscopic techniques; and converting shale gas into value-added chemicals via high-temperature selective oxidation reactions.


Produced Water Treatment

  • Ability to handle high-salinity produced water compositions (>100,000 mg/L).
  • Generates water product for reuse applications.
  • Small process footprint with flexible design to meet end-user needs.

Geochemistry Studies

  • Scale Inhibition leads to higher hydrocarbon recoveries.
  • Improved recovery, less refracturing, better overall well economics.
  • Simulation tools to predict downhole chemistry during completion to improve well production.

Shale Gas Conversion

  • Intensified modular process design with lower capital/operating costs than existing technologies.
  • Utilizes solid oxide fuel cell technology platform to convert shale gas into value-added intermediates.
  • Significantly lower capital cost in comparison to ethane cracking or gas-to-liquids technologies reducing investment risk.


Technology Readiness Level

  • Joule-heating for Supercritical Water Desalination: TRL-5
  • Electrochemical conversion of shale gas: TRL-3

Current Investigators

  • Jason Trembly, Principal Investigator
  • Chad Able, Graduate Student
  • Michael Spencer, Graduate Student


  • Ohio Water Development Authority
  • U.S. Department of Energy - National Energy Technology Laboratory
  • Ohio Third Frontier Innovation Platform Program