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Predictive process control at a refinery wastewater treatment plant

By Scott Jenkins |

To date, the difficult-to-treat contaminants and their related biological inhibition in petroleum refinery wastewater have defied efforts to bring predictive and mathematical process control to biological wastewater-treatment systems. Now, for the first time, engineers at Refinery Water Engineering & Associates Inc. (RWEA; Los Angeles, Calif.; refinerywater.zoomshare.com) have determined the key kinetic and metabolic microbial growth constants in a full-scale refinery wastewater treatment facility, and used them to populate a software model. The methodology allows for accurate, predictive process control in what previously has been a trial-and-error-based technique. The real-world demonstration builds upon conceptual work discussed in an article earlier this year ( CE, May 2011, pp. 60–63). “Oil refinery wastewater is the most difficult of all industries to handle, and because of the large number of process variables in biological wastewater treatment, effective process control is complicated,” explains RWEA founder David Kujawski. RWEA completed a study that quantified the site-specific kinetic and metabolic growth constants for the microbial population of a full-scale, activated-sludge biological-wastewater…
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