OIL FROM WATER

oil well T2by John Jonelis

What if you can make oil out of water? What if, you also end up with more water? A discovery like that will benefit our country and the world.

The technology now exists. Commercialization is beginning.

The story starts here in Chicago. Len Bland, mild-mannered local businessman, creates Business Network Chicago — a forum for presenting early stage ventures to the entrepreneurial community. Over the years, he sees hundreds of startup companies and occasionally grapples with some very good ideas.

Once in a while, a surprise technology comes along that’s practical, profitable, and good for society. When that happens, it’s time to get involved personally and help them along. That’s just what Len does. This is a story about that company.

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Social Entrepreneurship

Nano Gas Technologies is a company that grows out of the discovery that very small gas bubbles remain in liquid a very long time—much longer than had previously been thought in scientific circles. If you saturate a substance with oxygen or some other gas and it remains in situ for a very long time, a whole range of possibilities opens up. One ramification of this discovery is to solve the fresh water dilemma. That’s huge.

Next to the air we breathe, there is nothing more important to life than water. And our fresh water is drying up. There are two ways to provide more water to the world:

  • Find more
  • Waste less

Nano Gas starts along the first path and ends up solving the second.

oil well

Find More

Clean drinking water is the first market the company tests—until the real blockbuster application turns up. Let’s briefly explore this first path because it’s an important one that will benefit humanity. The company can return to it at any time, and given its importance to society, they probably will.

Fresh water is processed in municipal wastewater treatment facilities. These facilities are incredibly inefficient. Turns out, by injecting nano-bubbles into the sludge, a whole lot more pure water can be reclaimed. Simple. The best discoveries are simple.

This is hugely exciting news because the benefits extend far beyond relieving the stench in and around the neighborhood of these plants. We are looking at the potential solution to water shortage in the industrialized world. Beyond that, the process can provide drinking water to third world nations by extracting purified water from swamps and polluted rivers. This is social entrepreneurship at its best!

clarification steps

Politics has a funny way of throwing roadblocks in front of good causes. It turns out that cracking the municipal market is a slow and painstaking undertaking because there are so many cities and towns and each of them takes a long time to make a decision. Wastewater treatment is a good and important application for the technology, but it’s not a market suited for a new company raising significant capital for rapid growth. In other words, the time horizon for the served market and the time horizon for the capital market don’t match.

Again, I believe the company will return to this market once it achieves maturity. Meanwhile a much more profitable opportunity has come to light—one that can propel the company to significant growth on a timetable attractive to venture capital.

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Waste Less

Let me tell you about the change that captured my interest in the company:

Domestic oil wells use a lot of water. Not just fracking operations, but ordinary wells too. Many of these run out of water before the lunch whistle blows and operations cease for the day. That means more tankers of oil get shipped from unfriendly places in the world.

At these domestic wells, once the water is used, it comes back as a contaminated slurry. The standard method to gain value from the slurry is gravity–settling ponds. Given time, valuable minerals sink to the bottom or rise to the top. This is slow, messy, and doesn’t do a complete job of cleaning the water. The reclaimed water is not fit to drink. It’s not even fit for recovering oil because it clogs up the machinery. The industry doesn’t know how to deal with the water that remains.

oil well in Rockies

Believe it or not, this water gets entirely wasted. Drillers truck it to special facilities called disposal wells that pump it back into the ground just to get rid of it. This reduces the amount of water available for drinking and for industry.

So we’re wasting too much water and pumping too little oil. Enter Nano Gas Technologies. They use their profoundly simple nano-bubble discovery to clean wastewater for oil wells. This is huge because, once purified, oil wells can re-use their water. That’s right, instead of wasting more and more water and pumping the contaminated residue into the ground, the same water can now be cleaned and used over and over.

That means oil wells no longer cease operations early in the day. America gets a whole lot more domestic oil and wastes a whole lot less water. And the company is dealing with the free market rather than multiple bureaucracies. Everybody wins.

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Big Money

This is a social benefit with $35B market in a very short span of time. It’s profitable for oil wells, disposal wells, and of course, for the company. An additional 18 barrels of oil can be reclaimed from 3000 barrels of wastewater. Dirty water is no longer a nuisance—it’s so valuable that Nano Gas Technologies proposes to pay the well owners for the water and sell the oil they reclaim from it! Now, there’s a revolutionary idea! Rapid industry-wide adoption is anticipated once the technology is demonstrated.

Here’s a diagram of the process logistics:

Nano Gas Process

Residual oil reclamation plan – Nano Gas Technologies

Fair Disclosure: I’m impressed and invested. Who wouldn’t invest in more oil and more water?

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Contacts

Nano Gas Technologies, Inc. –

BNC – Business Network Chicago

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This article appeared in News From Heartland

Photo Credits – Nano Gas Technologies

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