Fracking equipment in a field at daytime.

Transform the energy sector’s produced water from a waste to a resource

BACKGROUND – Produced water is a by-product of oil and natural gas extraction, uranium mining, and carbon capture, utilization, and storage. In 2012, an estimated 21.2 billion barrels of produced water from oil and gas were generated in the United States.

CHALLENGE – The high cost of removing constituents specific to produced water can make it cheaper to dispose produced water than treat it. Even so, current disposal practices in oil and gas cost about $40 billion annually.

OBJECTIVE – The Water Security Grand Challenge aims to accelerate research, development and deployment of cost-effective treatment of produced water that can address water scarcity in water-stressed regions by creating alternative water sources for agricultural use, mineral extraction and processing, and other industrial operations, while creating new revenue for the extraction industry through water sales.


  • DOE is currently exploring a geologic-basin-specific or regional approach to address the goal, and plans to release a Request for Information (RFI) this year.
  • In September 2019, the Office of Fossil Energy selected four projects to receive $4.6 million to accelerate the development and commercialization of treatment technologies that reduce waste water that is being injected into disposal wells and increase water supplies for reuse.
  • In February 2019, Chevron Technology Ventures, LLC announced three winners of the Chevron Tech Challenge for Produced Water.
  • In July 2018, DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy and Chevron Technology Ventures, a division of Chevron U.S.A. Inc announced a new agreement to advance solutions to produced water issues. Under the Cooperation Agreement, DOE provided technical expertise to Chevron on the Chevron Tech Challenge for Produced Water, which seeks to develop cost-effective produced water management solutions applicable to U.S. oil and gas extraction.