Removal of Radium from Synthetic Shale Gas Brines by Ion Exchange Resin

Yuqiang Bi, Hui Zhang, Brian R. Ellis, Kim F. Hayes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Rapid development of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas production from shale reservoirs presents a significant challenge related to the management of the high-salinity wastewaters that return to the surface. In addition to high total dissolved solids (TDS), shale gas-produced brines typically contain elevated concentrations of radium (Ra), which must be treated properly to prevent contamination of surface waters and allow for safe disposal or reuse of produced water. Treatment strategies that isolate radium in the lowest volume waste streams would be desirable to reduce disposal cost and generate useful treatment by-products. The present study evaluates the potential of a commercial strong acid cation exchange resin for removing Ra2+ from high-TDS brines using fixed-bed column reactors. Column reactors were operated with varying brine chemistries and salinities in an effort to find optimal conditions for Ra2+ removal through ion exchange. To overcome competing divalent cations present in the brine for exchange sites, the chelating agent, EDTA, was used to form stable complexes predominantly with the higher concentration Ca2+, Mg2+, and Sr2+ divalent cations, while isolating the much lower concentration Ra2+ species. Results showed that Ra2+ removal by the resin strongly depended on the TDS concentration and could be improved with careful selection of EDTA concentration. This strategy of metal chelation coupled with ion exchange resins may be effective in enhancing Ra2+ removal and reducing the generation and disposal cost if volume reduction of low-level radioactive solid waste can be achieved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)791-798
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Engineering Science
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • chelating agent
  • high salinity
  • ion exchange
  • radium
  • shale-gas wastewater

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


Dive into the research topics of 'Removal of Radium from Synthetic Shale Gas Brines by Ion Exchange Resin'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this