Characterization of oily sludge from a wastewater treatment plant flocculation-flotation unit in a petroleum refinery and its treatment implications

  • Mait Kriipsalu
  • Marcia MarquesEmail author
  • Aleksander Maastik
Original Article


Partly due to the complex and variable composition of oily sludge generated by the petroleum industry, cost-effective treatment and proper disposal pose considerable challenges worldwide. In this study, an extended component-based analysis of the oily sludge from a flocculation-flotation unit of a wastewater treatment system in a refinery in Sweden was carried out over 1 year. The heterogeneity of the oily sludge is illustrated by the wide ranges of concentrations found for different chemical components, particularly metals. Among the petroleum hydrocarbons, the most abundant compounds were nonpolar aliphatic hydrocarbons (63.7 ± 16.7 g kg−1); from the benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene group, xylenes (91–240 mg kg−1) were most abundant; and among polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, naphthalene (25.7 ± 21.4), fluorene (27.25 ± 10.0), and phenanthrene (43.8 ± 18.4 mg kg−1) were most abundant (all results in terms of dry matter). Based on the EU guidelines and the mean concentration values for metals found in the oily sludge, e.g., Pb (135.4 ± 125.8), Cu (105.2 ± 79.1), Hg (42.8 ± 31.3), Ni (320 ± 267.4), and Zn (1321.7 ± 529.9 mg kg−1), disposal of oily sludge even in landfills for hazardous waste is not allowed. The organic content of the sludge can be reduced through biotreatment, but not the metal content. A multistep component-based treatment scheme is therefore needed.

Key words

Petroleum hydrocarbons TPH PAH Biotreatment Metals 


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mait Kriipsalu
    • 2
  • Marcia Marques
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Aleksander Maastik
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of TechnologyUniversity of KalmarKalmarSweden
  2. 2.Estonian University of Life SciencesTartuEstonia
  3. 3.Department of Sanitary and Environmental EngineeringRio de Janeiro State UniversityRio de JaneiroBrazil

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