The world supply of conventional natural gas is disappearing. However, large quantities of gas will now be extracted from shale, coal beds, coal conversion, landfills and other nonconventional gas sources.
There will be substantial investments in liquid treatment equipment, pumps, valves, analyzers, chemicals, air pollution control systems and other products and services. Forecasts for these products are included in Fluid/Gas Treatment and Control: World Markets, a continually updated report published by the McIlvaine Company.
In 2012, unconventional gas will boost the fluid treatment market by $5 billion. Pumps for hydraulic fracturing will account for nearly 20 percent of the increase. They must pump water, sand and chemicals down into the earth for two miles under pressures high enough to penetrate and fracture the shale deposits. The biggest growth segment will be Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) systems. Regulators in Pennsylvania as well as those in Washington are responding to potential environmental threats with new rules which will limit the discharge of the flow-back water. This water has ten times more chlorides and other salts as does seawater and also contains hazardous chemicals. ZLD systems evaporate and create distilled water while converting the solids into salable or easily disposable salts.
The conversion of coal to natural gas is very attractive for countries such as China where coal is plentiful and gas is scarce. A number of conversion projects are underway around the world with China leading the way. However, the U.S. has been the site of one of the most successful coal conversion operations. Dakota gasification has been converting coal-to-gas and chemicals for decades. These plants require substantial investment in air pollution control systems. Cooling water flow and treatment requirements are also significant.
Landfills and various other biogas sources are very numerous, but each is small in size compared to coal conversion and shale gas. Nevertheless, in the aggregate they represent a growing market for fluid treatment and control.