Upgrading oil refinery effluents by cross-flow ultrafiltration

S. Elmaleh*, NorEddine Ghaffour

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


The oil refinery wastewaters conventionally treated still contain about 20 mg/l total hydrocarbons and 30 mg/l suspend solids sloughed from a biological reactor and their temperature is about 35°C. The new European standards will require less than 5 mg/l hydrocarbons and less than 10 mg/l suspended solids. Such standards could be met by an ultrafiltration operation. The M9 Carbosep membrane was selected after this inorganic membrane proved to be a total barrier for the hydrocarbons contained in a synthetic emulsion made with an Iranian crude oil while giving highest water flux. A systematic study of the influence of the different operational parameters was then effected with a mixed suspension containing hydrocarbons and biological solids sampled from an activated sludge plant. Aggregation processes of hydrocarbons on the bacterial flocs were observed leading to larger particles with an optimal hydrocarbons/biological solids ratio. This induces a significant flux increase up to 150 l/h.m2. The progressive fouling can be limited by use of helical baffles introduced in the filtration element operated at 0.5 bar. Experimental data were fitted to a model of cake deposition with retroflux while the steady state results were recalculated in terms of two dimensionless groups whose plots lead to straight lines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-238
Number of pages8
JournalWater Science and Technology
Issue number9 pt 5
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996
EventProceedings of the 1996 18th Biennial Conference of the International Association on Water Quality. Part 5 - Singapore, Singapore
Duration: Jun 23 1996Jun 28 1996


  • Biological solid suspension
  • Membrane techniques
  • Oil emulsion
  • Petroleum industry
  • Ultrafiltration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology


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