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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.

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

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

Geochemistry Studies

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

Shale Gas Conversion

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


  1. Trembly, J. P. (2018). Technique for removal of organics and dissolved solids from Aqueous Medias via Supercritical Treatment, U.S. Patent 9,950,939
  2. Able, C., Ogden, D., Trembly, J. P. (2018). Sustainable management of hypersaline brine waste: Zero liquid discharge via Joule-heating at supercritical condition. Desalination; 444: 84-93.
  3. Ogden, D., Trembly, J. P. (2017). Desalination of hypersaline brines via Joule-heating: Experimental investigations and comparison of results to existing models. Desalination; 424: 149-158.
  4. Dong, X., Trembly, J., Bayless, D. J. (2017). Techno-economic analysis of hydraulic fracking flowback and produced water treatment in supercritical water reactor. Energy; 133: 777-783.
  5. Lopez, D., Trembly, J. (2017). Desalination of Hypersaline Brines with Joule-Heating and Chemical Pre-treatment: Conceptual Design and Economics. Desalination; 415: 49-57. 
  6. Fan, W., Liberati, B., Novak, M., Cooper, M., Kruse Daniels, N., Young, D., Trembly, J. P. (2016). Radium-226 Removal from Simulated Produced Water Using Natural Zeolite and Ion-Exchange Resin. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research; 55: 12501-12505.
  7. Trembly, J. P. (2016). Supercritical vessel and related methods of separating dissolved solids from a fluid, Patent Pending (US20180147551, PCT/US2016/030740) 
  8. Trembly, J. P. (2015). Fluid Processing System and Related Method, Patent Pending (US20170089608, PCT/US2015/021961) 

Technology Readiness Level

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

Current Investigators

  1. Jason Trembly, Principal Investigator
  2. Chad Able, Graduate Student
  3. Michael Spencer, Graduate Student


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