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Design and Performance of Pilot-Scale Constructed Wetland Treatment Systems for Treating Oilfield Produced Water from Sub-Saharan Africa

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Pilot-scale constructed wetland treatment systems (CWTSs) were designed and built to decrease concentrations of constituents of concern in water simulated to match characteristics of water produced from specific oilfields in sub-Saharan Africa. The oilfield produced water has low ionic strength (704–1,370 mg L−1 total dissolved solids) and contains Fe, Mn, Ni, Zn, and oil and grease (O&G). To treat these constituents, biogeochemical pathways were targeted in the design of two subsurface flow (SSF) CWTS series planted with Phragmites australis and a free-water surface (FWS) series planted with Typha latifolia. These systems were designed for prevailing conditions at the sub-Saharan site studied. Concentrations of O&G, Fe, Mn, Ni, and Zn in outflow from the SSF series met use criteria for irrigation and livestock watering. For the FWS series, outflow concentrations of O&G, Fe, and Mn met use criteria for irrigation and livestock watering, and Ni concentrations met use criteria for livestock watering. Both SSF and FWS series were effective in reducing concentrations of O&G in the produced water investigated with >98% efficiency. The high-removal efficiency is attributed to achieving aerobic conditions in the wetland cells. Both SSF and FWS series reduced concentrations of Fe and Mn but with a wider range of efficiency compared with O&G removal. The removal of Ni and Zn could be increased by the addition of organic matter, such as plant detritus, to wetland cells to promote reducing conditions and dissimilatory sulfate reduction.

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Correspondence to James W. Castle.

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Horner, J.E., Castle, J.W., Rodgers, J.H. et al. Design and Performance of Pilot-Scale Constructed Wetland Treatment Systems for Treating Oilfield Produced Water from Sub-Saharan Africa. Water Air Soil Pollut 223, 1945–1957 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11270-011-0996-1

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  • Constructed wetland
  • Treatment
  • Produced water
  • Beneficial use