International Journal of Environmental Research

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 185–198 | Cite as

Treatment of Simulated Oil and Gas Produced Water via Pilot-Scale Rhizofiltration and Constructed Wetlands

  • Lucas Clay
  • John PichtelEmail author
Research Paper


Extraction of petroleum, natural gas and coal bed methane is often accompanied by the release of large volumes of produced water (PW). Untreated PW poses environmental and health risks; however, there are opportunities for beneficial reuse if potentially hazardous constituents are removed. In a hydroponic system, four plant species (cattail, Typha latifolia; sedge, Carex blanda, sunflower, Helianthus annuus; and Indian mustard, Brassica juncea) were assessed for tolerance to, and rhizofiltration of, metals occurring in synthetic PW. In a separate study, cattail and sedge were grown in a pilot-scale constructed wetland containing either soil or peat and tested for the removal of PW metals. After reaction with PW for 10 weeks in the hydroponic system, Indian mustard was the most effective in removal of Na. All species accumulated more metals in roots compared to aboveground shoots. Cattail roots had the highest BCF for Cr (1156), Cu (2911) and Cd (6047). Mustard roots had a high BCF for Cd (3485). Mustard, cattail and sedge all had TF values < 1, indicating their potential as metal excluders for produced water. In the constructed wetlands, cattail shoots were highly effective for the removal of Na and Li (BCF > 100). TF values for most metals were low. Metal removal, as indicated by tissue metal concentration and BCF, was typically much higher using constructed wetlands compared with rhizofiltration. Based on these data, constructed wetlands may serve as a low-cost, environmentally benign method for the treatment of PW. The reported study may be of practical value to oil and gas production industries that plan to recycle or properly dispose large quantities of oil and gas production wastewater.

Article Highlights

  • A pilot-scale constructed wetland and a hydroponic apparatus were used to evaluate the ability of plants for uptake and accumulation of selected metals from simulated produced water.

  • Cattail (Typha latifolia), sedge (Carex blanda), sunflower (Helianthus annuus) and Indian mustard (Brassica juncea) accumulated more metals in roots compared to aboveground shoots.

  • Cattail, sedge and mustard had transfer factors < 1, indicating their potential as metal excluders for produced water.

  • Metal removal by plants, as indicated by tissue metal concentrations and bioconcentration factor, was typically much greater using constructed wetlands compared with rhizofiltration.


Produced water Rhizofiltration Hydroponics Constructed wetlands Metals 



Support from the Ball State University Honors College is gratefully acknowledged.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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© University of Tehran 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Forestry and Environmental ConservationClemson UniversityClemsonUSA
  2. 2.Natural Resources and Environmental ManagementBall State UniversityMuncieUSA

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