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Treatment of Oily Waste Water Using Low-Cost Ceramic Membrane: Flux Decline Mechanism and Economic Feasibility

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This work addresses the applicability of different membrane pore blocking models for the prediction of flux decline mechanisms during dead end microfiltration (MF) of stable oil-in-water (o/w) emulsions using relatively low-cost ceramic membranes. Circular disk type membranes (52.5 mm diameter and 4.5 mm thickness) were prepared by the paste method using locally available low-cost inorganic precursors such as kaolin, quartz, calcium carbonate, sodium carbonate, boric acid, and sodium metasilicate. Characterization of the prepared membrane was done by SEM analysis, porosity determination, and pure water permeation through the membrane. Hydraulic pore diameter, hydraulic permeability, and hydraulic resistance of the membrane was evaluated as 0.7 µm, 1.94 × 10-6 m3/m2·s·kPa and 5.78 × 1011 m2/m3, respectively. The prepared membrane was used for the treatment of synthetic stable o/w emulsions of 40 and 50 mg/L crude oil concentration in batch mode with varying trans-membrane pressure differentials ranging from 41.37 to 165.47 kPa. The membrane exhibited 96.97% oil rejection efficiency and 21.07 × 10-6 m3/m2·s permeate flux after 30 min of experimental run at 165.47 kPa trans-membrane pressure for 50 mg/L oil concentration. Different pore blocking, models such as complete pore blocking, standard pore blocking, intermediate pore blocking and cake filtration were used to gain insights into the nature of membrane fouling during permeation. The observed trends for flux decline data convey that the decrease in permeate flux was initially due to intermediate pore blocking (during 1 to 10 minutes of experimental run) followed with cake filtration (during 10 to 30 minutes of experimental run). Based on retail prices of the inorganic precursors, the membrane cost was estimated to be 130 $/m2. Finally, preliminary process economic studies for a single stage membrane plant were performed for the application of the prepared membrane in industrial scale treatment of o/w emulsions. A process economics study inferred that the annualized cost of the membrane plant would be 0.098 $/m3 feed for treating 100 m3/day feed with oil concentration of 50 mg/L.
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Keywords: Ceramic membrane; microfiltration; oily wastewater; pore blocking; process economics

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Chemical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, Guwahati, Assam, India

Publication date: 2009-09-01

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