Small Bubbles, Big Rewards for Separation Technology 

Reminiscent of the song made famous by late Hawaiian crooner Don Ho, tiny bubbles are the focal point of a new innovation aimed at transforming produced water from a costly byproduct into a valuable asset. Termed nanobubbles, they are several times smaller than a human red blood cell, which allows them to play with the physics of how dissolved gas interacts with liquids, according to Nano Gas Technologies. The suburban Chicago-based startup says its technology is capable of cheaply producing these nanobubbles to treat produced wastewater that is among the "worst of the worst." The result is what the company's chief executive officer, Len Bland, calls "fluffy water" that causes suspended solids to fall and oil to float to the top where it is easily skimmed off. "If you want to put it in technical terms," he said, "we change the specific gravity of the liquid so that it enables the oil that is stuck in the water to rise."

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