WashU affiliated authors: Moshan Chen, Carter A. Rholl, Tianchen He, Aditi Sharma, and Kimberly M. Parker (Dept. of Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering)
Abstract: In hydraulic fracturing fluids, the oxidant persulfate is used to generate sulfate radical to break down polymer-based gels. However, sulfate radical may be scavenged by high concentrations of halides in hydraulic fracturing fluids, producing halogen radicals (e.g., Cl•, Cl2•–, Br•, Br2•–, and BrCl•–). In this study, we investigated how halogen radicals alter the mechanisms and kinetics of the degradation of organic chemicals in hydraulic fracturing fluids. Using a radical scavenger (i.e., isopropanol), we determined that halogenated products of additives such as cinnamaldehyde (i.e., α-chlorocinnamaldehyde and α-bromocinnamaldehyde) and citrate (i.e., trihalomethanes) were generated via a pathway involving halogen radicals. We next investigated the impact of halogen radicals on cinnamaldehyde degradation rates. The conversion of sulfate radicals to halogen radicals may result in selective degradation of organic compounds. Surprisingly, we found that the addition of halides to convert sulfate radicals to halogen radicals did not result in selective degradation of cinnamaldehyde over other compounds (i.e., benzoate and guar), which may challenge the application of radical selectivity experiments to more complex molecules. Overall, we find that halogen radicals, known to react in advanced oxidative treatment and sunlight photochemistry, also contribute to the unintended degradation and halogenation of additives in hydraulic fracturing fluids.
Citation: Halogen Radicals Contribute to the Halogenation and Degradation of Chemical Additives Used in Hydraulic Fracturing, Moshan Chen, Carter A. Rholl, Tianchen He, Aditi Sharma, and Kimberly M. Parker, Environmental Science & Technology Article ASAP DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.0c03685.