Aberdeen water treatment specialist demonstrates new technology capable of achieving five-fold OiW reduction

22/05/2024
MiFU onsite

ABERDEEN-based Adaptive Process Solutions (APS), a produced water treatment specialist, has completed a highly successful field trial of its new Microbubble Infusion Unit (MiFU) technology, achieving a near five-fold reduction in oil in water (OiW) levels in combination with a synergistic production chemical.

The full-scale trial, conducted aboard a floating production, storage and offloading installation (FPSO) in the North Sea, took place over a six-month period. On conclusion, it achieved the required positive outcome for the client and confirmed that the new technology brings a step change improvement for a wider industry faced with increasing OiW levels in produced water.

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In common with other operators, produced water separation had been a long-standing challenge for this operator. Several different technologies had previously been trialled unsuccessfully before APS proposed its patented MiFU, which had already produced impressive results in preliminary offshore laboratory testing.

Designed as a retrofittable add-on to existing water treatment systems, MiFU was configured to meet the specific conditions and fluid chemistry at the asset, with before and after results confirming the potential for five-fold improvements in OiW results.

Paul McAlister, managing director of APS, said the MiFU was developed to address the industry-wide issue faced by operators to efficiently and effectively clean produced water so that it meets strict regulatory standards before it can be discharged back into the sea. 

“This is a notoriously challenging problem for operators,” he said. The North Sea is a mature oil and gas province and the industry discharges millions of tons of water into the sea each year. This is exacerbated because the existing separation systems were designed to process smaller volumes of produced water resulting in a bottle neck that slows production.

“Our technology can also head off the challenges encountered by FPSO operators when they can no longer rely on additional ‘slop tank’ separation in heavy seas, as a fallback to meet demand.  In both cases, MiFU boosts overall environmental performance and productivity.

“This successful field trial is the culmination of four years’ research and development and MiFU is the first of its kind worldwide. I’m very proud of management and staff. We are a homegrown Aberdeen company and we have now launched a world-leading environmental technology.”

MiFU uses infused micro bubbles which attach to very minute particles of oil and fine solids in the produced water which can then be easily removed by the asset’s existing separator process. While underlying technologies have already been proven, MiFU is unique through its implementation of a patented multi-pass process which directly injects size and quantity-controlled gas microbubbles into target points in a contaminated water stream.

MiFU’s superior bubble saturation and variable bubble size range is also a first in the produced water rental services industry.

This optimisation means MiFU is capable of processing between 1,000 and 100,000 barrels of water a day, reducing up to 90% of oil and contaminants and eliminating the requirement for further costly downstream filtration and material management.

As it scales up for strategic growth, APS is beginning construction of a second MiFU rental skid and projects increasing its headcount to 20 by the end of this year in response to new business enquiries from the North Sea, Norway, West Africa, Gulf of Mexico and Brazil.

The company is also working on designing units for onshore sectors such as whisky distilleries, municipal water treatment and wastewater.

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