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Optimizing Biological Water Treatment in Petroleum Refining

By David Kujawski and Arthur Wong, Refinery Water Engineering & Associates |

Wastewater streams from petroleum refineries present some of the largest ranges of variation in contaminant loadings and contain some of the toughest contaminant profiles to treat. These factors render the wastewater treatment processes difficult to control. The most challenging area of wastewater process control in petroleum refining lies in biological treatment, due to the vast number of control variables present as compared to other chemical-treatment processes. This article discusses the differences in controlling wastewater treatment processes by mean cell-retention time versus food-to-mass ratios, and further elaborates on how biokinetic modeling can be used to build a comprehensive model across normal and transient operating conditions.   The challenges Operating conditions specific to petroleum refining further aggravate these plants’ process control efforts. These conditions can include the following: • The presence of recalcitrant aromatics, polynuclear aromatics (PNAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) • The presence of a wide variety of nitrification inhibitors • Eight or even more independent sources of influent, all with varying characteristics, coming from oil processing units whose personnel rarely…
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