Industrial reuse of petrochemical effluents: A case study of ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis
Keywords:Industrial reuse, Petrochemical effluent, Reverse osmosis
The petrochemical industry uses high volumes of water in its production processes and generates effluents that have a great potential for reuse in production processes. The reuse of these effluents is, therefore, an alternative for the sustainable development of the sector. This study aimed at evaluating the application of ultrafiltration (UF) and reverse osmosis (RO) in the treatment of petrochemical effluents for the production of industrial reuse water, reducing environmental impacts caused by the disposal of effluents in the soil. The experiments were carried out with effluents named waste stabilization pond 1 (WSP-1), waste stabilization pond 8 (WSP-8) and an inorganic effluent (INO), which was used as feedwater in the pilot unit with a treatment capacity of 1 m³.h–1. The parameters chosen for evaluation in the treated effluents were calcium, magnesium, chloride, sulfate, electrical conductivity (EC), total organic carbon, color, chemical oxygen demand (COD), pH, total suspended solids and turbidity. Membrane permeate fluxes were determined to evaluate the performance of the pilot system. After treatment and characterization of each effluent, the results were compared to define the most suitable effluent to achieve the quality required for industrial reuse. The results showed that the proposed UF/RO treatment provided a stable flux for the WSP-8 effluent. Conversely, the other streams showed an accentuated decrease in flux, which indicates fouling processes of the UF and RO membranes. As for the efficiency of the treatment, the process removed compounds of interest such as COD above 90%, salts and EC above 92% for the three assessed effluents. Thus, considering all aspects evaluated in this study, WSP-8 was the most suitable to be used as feed in the pilot system with UF and RO. The permeate produced presented the necessary quality for reuse in the industries of the Southern Petrochemical Complex, presenting equivalent characteristics to those of clarified water. Thus, the reuse of treated petrochemical effluents may be an important alternative source of water resources in face of availability and scarcity restrictions in industries in southern Brazil.
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