• Extracting water from the desert

    • A team from Oxford University has successfully used 3M™ Novec™ Engineered Fluid in a pioneering field application to assess the quality of water in the Badain Jaran desert in North West China.

      This geochemical research will play a crucial role assessing the level of pollution from both agricultural and industrial sources in arid regions. It can also be used to monitor rainfall levels and groundwater recharge rates to identify areas likely to suffer from water shortages in the future.

      Extracting water from ground samples taken from dry regions is challenging due to the low moisture content, meaning that traditional drainage methods can’t be used. A technique using an immiscible displacing fluid that was developed in the 1980s allowed small quantities of water to be recovered, but the chemical was banned a few years later under the Montreal protocol and no suitable alternative has been found until now.

      Novec has similar physical and chemical characteristics to the banned chemical, but has zero ozone depletion potential and a low global warming potential.

      The research project was led by the late Professor Mike Edmunds, an expert in groundwater quality, hydrogeochemical processes, trace element studies, isotope hydrology and palaeohydrology who taught on the MSc in Water Science, Policy and Management course at the University of Oxford.

      Published academic papers on both the use of 3M™ Novec™ HFE-7100 in the new extracting process and the Badain Jaran desert study were co-authored by the professor.