Water–energy sustainability synergies and health benefits as means to motivate potable reuse of coalbed methane-produced waters
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Management of coalbed methane (CBM)-produced water is a crucial part of the water–energy nexus, especially as CBM is projected to play a key role as a bridge fuel in major economies. In this paper, we consider one management technique, i.e., desalination of CBM-produced water to generate potable water. We discuss a confluence of geographic, sociotechnical, regulatory, and other circumstances that could make this concept viable for select coal-bearing regions. Having said that, for maximizing benefits, it is prudent to take a synergistic view targeting multiple objectives (water access, health, environmental impacts, and ease of waste management). Thus, we make design recommendations and suggest a system-evaluation framework for making sustainable decisions related to produced-to-potable water systems. For instance, a key question is whether such systems should be centralized or decentralized—and this paper highlights crucial tradeoffs that are present in both the cases.
KeywordsCoalbed methane Point-of-use Produced water Reverse osmosis Water–energy nexus
The authors thank Dr. Andres F. Clarens (University of Virginia) for his comments and suggestions on an initial version of this paper. No specific funding was received for this research.
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