Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Ehsan Ghazanfari


The world’s growing population results in increased energy needs that cannot yet be fully supported by the renewable sources of energy. These modern conditions and restraints have created the need to further research methods to enhance the recovery of resources previously unavailable due to technical and/or economic reasons and to reduce the environmental impacts of using fossil fuels. In this dissertation, applications of electrokinetic phenomena for the improvement of subsurface energy resource extraction are investigated using experimental and numerical tools.

Electrodialysis is proposed as a method of pre-treatment of the flow-back water produced during fracturing stage of shale gas extraction. The method targets the reduction of Total Dissolved Solids levels in the flow-back water so that it can either be treated further or be reused directly. The treatment and reuse of the flow-back water can potentially improve the sustainability of the shale gas extraction, controlling the amounts of water used and the general environmental footprint of the process.

In addition, the electrically assisted oil recovery is investigated as a potential technique for the enhancement of oil extraction, especially for the case of heavy crude oil. The high viscosity and low mobility of heavy crude oil render it almost impossible or not economical to extract. The method uses the application of low electrical field (direct current) to the oil reservoir to facilitate and increase the oil recovery by taking advantage of the mechanisms involved in electrokinetic phenomena.



Number of Pages

126 p.