Document details

Optimization of wastewater quality in the Sines refinery

Author(s): Santos, Bruno Fonseca Duarte

Date: 2015

Persistent ID:

Origin: Repositório Institucional da UNL

Subject(s): Petroleum refinery; Refinery wastewater; Oil and Grease (O&G); Ammonia; Spent caustic; PLS modeling; Domínio/Área Científica::Engenharia e Tecnologia::Engenharia Química; Domínio/Área Científica::Engenharia e Tecnologia::Engenharia Química; Domínio/Área Científica::Engenharia e Tecnologia::Engenharia Química


In order to address and resolve the wastewater contamination problem of the Sines refinery with the main objective of optimizing the quality of this stream and reducing the costs charged to the refinery, a dynamic mass balance was developed nd implemented for ammonia and polar oil and grease (O&G) contamination in the wastewater circuit. The inadequate routing of sour gas from the sour water stripping unit and the kerosene caustic washing unit, were identified respectively as the major source of ammonia and polar substances present in the industrial wastewater effluent. For the O&G content, a predictive model was developed for the kerosene caustic washing unit, following the Projection to Latent Structures (PLS) approach. Comparison between analytical data for ammonia and polar O&G concentrations in refinery wastewater originating from the Dissolved Air Flotation (DAF) effluent and the model predictions of the dynamic mass balance calculations are in a very good agreement and highlights the dominant impact of the identified streams for the wastewater contamination levels. The ammonia contamination problem was solved by rerouting the sour gas through an existing clogged line with ammonia salts due to a non-insulated line section, while for the O&G a dynamic mass balance was implemented as an online tool, which allows for prevision of possible contamination situations and taking the required preventive actions, and can also serve as a basis for establishing relationships between the O&G contamination in the refinery wastewater with the properties of the refined crude oils and the process operating conditions. The PLS model developed could be of great asset in both optimizing the existing and designing new refinery wastewater treatment units or reuse schemes. In order to find a possible treatment solution for the spent caustic problem, an on-site pilot plant experiments for NaOH recovery from the refinery kerosene caustic washing unit effluent using an alkaline-resistant nanofiltration (NF) polymeric membrane were performed in order to evaluate its applicability for treating these highly alkaline and contaminated streams. For a constant operating pressure and temperature and adequate operating conditions, 99.9% of oil and grease rejection and 97.7% of chemical oxygen demand (COD) rejection were observed. No noticeable membrane fouling or flux decrease were registered until a volume concentration factor of 3. These results allow for NF permeate reuse instead of fresh caustic and for significant reduction of the wastewater contamination, which can result in savings of 1.5 M€ per year at the current prices for the largest Portuguese oil refinery. The capital investments needed for implementation of the required NF membrane system are less than 10% of those associated with the traditional wet air oxidation solution of the spent caustic problem. The operating costs are very similar, but can be less than half if reusing the NF concentrate in refinery pH control applications. The payback period was estimated to be 1.1 years. Overall, the pilot plant experimental results obtained and the process economic evaluation data indicate a very competitive solution through the proposed NF treatment process, which represents a highly promising alternative to conventional and existing spent caustic treatment units.

Document Type Doctoral thesis
Language English
Advisor(s) Velizarov, Svetlozar; Lemos, Francisco; Santos, Maria António
Contributor(s) Santos, Bruno Fonseca Duarte
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