M4ShaleGas: Measuring, monitoring, mitigating and managing the environmental impact of shale gas

WP 2.5: Simulating the potential composition and mobility of compounds in flowback water 

Shale gas source rocks are widely distributed around the world, and many nations have started to investigate their shale gas potential. But there are severe public concerns associated with the hydraulic fracturing production method. The possibility that flowback waters could be spilled during capture and transport or leak through the borehole casing during shale gas production or during injection in disposal pits cause major public concerns about the environmental and social compatibility. It is obvious that composition of flowback water is difficult to predict as quality and quantity of dissolved inorganic and organic compounds in flowback waters are mainly related to the applied additives in the hydraulic fracking fluid but also on the type of shale that is the target formation and the natural formation fluid of the fractured shale. Therefore, simulation of flowback water composition and reactive transport modelling are necessary to provide scientific base for recommendations about possible risks for water systems as well as the environmental footprint of shale gas exploitation. Our research activities will close the knowledge gap on the full spectrum of flowback water compositions and the mobility of compounds for European shales by combining lab and modelling approaches. 

The main tasks of the work in WP 2.5 are:

  • Evaluation of compounds in flowback water of European shales using laboratory experiments and cutting edge analytical techniques
  • Modelling of flowback water composition and mobility
  • Development of scientific recommendations for minimum risks and impacts of flowback water


  • Dr. Andrea Vieth-Hillebrand
  • Dr. Franziska D.H. Wilke (Section 3.1)
  • Prof. Dr. Michael Kühn (Section 3.4)


  • CGS (Czech Geological Survey)