Lia Neumann: Paving a Way for Environmental Change

PARTNER CONTENT By APG

PUBLISHED: February 20, 2024
Lia Neumann founder of IBL Elements Inc at her desk

Large companies, especially those in the gas and oil sector, tend to have a reputation of overlooking or forgetting about the repercussions of their operations on communities and the environment. This negligence often leads to detrimental consequences that can last several lifetimes.

Lia Neumann, the founder and president of IBL Elements Inc., strives to bring change to these industries by addressing such oversights and continuously finding new ways to make a positive impact that lasts. Through her ventures, Neumann seeks to not only fix the environmental hazards posed by the sector but also establish and maintain sustainable practices in the water purification process, which is integral to oil and gas production. This focus also includes creating technology that can serve many regions for at least the next two decades.

Challenges in saltwater disposal

Oil and gas production leads to a byproduct known as “saltwater”—a hazardous waste characterized by its high salt content, hydrocarbons and industrial compounds. This “produced water” or “oilfield brine” surfaces during hydraulic fracturing, resulting in millions of gallons that need safe disposal. Though impurities are chemically removed, no economically viable technology has fully purified this water, leading to partial filtration and disposal in injection wells.

The disposal methods—either recycling into reservoirs or injecting into saltwater disposal wells—are controversial due to potential groundwater contamination, small earthquakes and leaks. The EPA outlines stringent construction criteria for these wells, requiring up to three protective layers to prevent contamination. However, many concerns persist regarding the integrity of wells that are shut down and sealed.

Saltwater disposal wells, regulated by state and federal entities, must comply with the Safe Water Drinking Act of 1974. Nevertheless, there are gaps and other problems in the monitoring of discontinued wells and incidents where environmental contamination occurs. Therefore, the system is not foolproof, emphasizing the need for better solutions and proper oversight.

IBL Elements

Heading IBL Elements Inc., Neumann is committed to purifying oil-processed water with its patented processes, extracting minerals from saltwater and making the returned water environmentally friendly. The company aims to be efficient, sustainable and innovative, developing solutions such as enhanced iodine extraction from saltwater disposal brine water to help rectify the environmental impact of the oil and gas sector.

Saltwater disposal poses a significant challenge for everyone involved, as there is currently no conventional water disposal or purification method in place. Instead, the water is simply injected into layers to maintain pressure, carrying with it a substantial amount of diverse organic matter and an excessive concentration of salts that adversely impact the environment. This results in an extremely saline solution where no life can thrive. The objective is not only to dispose of this water by injecting it into the layers but, conversely, to extract, purify and reintroduce it into the layers with minimal impact or, ideally, to treat it to a quality suitable for drinking purposes.

IBL Elements hopes to change how oil-processed water is handled through its water purification technology, which incorporates an update to traditional air absorption technology for iodine extraction. Neumann says this has achieved wonderful results in comparison to what existing methods have yielded.

However, iodine extraction is just the beginning for IBL Elements. Neumann wants the company to attain 99.995% pure iodine through its efforts, creating an unlimited source for valuable iodine derivatives found in medical, chemical and oil industries, among others.

The company has also ventured into lithium extraction from saltwater with the goal of positioning the U.S. at the forefront of high-tech production and contributing to the electric vehicle industry.

IBL Elements works under Neumann’s leadership to deliver economically viable and environmentally sound solutions in water purification and resource management. In a world that often puts big corporations ahead of everything else, the founder is dedicated to driving environmental change and making a positive lasting impact on communities.

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