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Evaluation of commercial ultrafiltration systems for treating automotive oily wastewater

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Currently at Ford Motor Company, oily wastewater is batch treated by chemical deemulsification whose performance depends on determining optimum chemical dosages and is occasionally inconsistent because of influent fluctuations. Therefore, a pilot study was conducted at the Ford Romeo Engine Plant, Romeo, Michigan, to study treatment of raw oily wastewater and skim oil (from chemical deemulsification) using commercially available ultrafiltration (UF) systems as an alternative to chemical deemulsification. The study found that most UF membranes performed consistently and reliably, producing average permeate oil and grease (O&G) concentrations of less than 100 mg/L, a typical discharge limit for an automotive plant. In addition, tubular membranes typically outperformed spiral-wound membranes in permeate flux and washing frequency. While all UF systems performed consistently well for removing O&G, the treated effluent still had a chemical oxygen demand (COD) of 100 to 2 000 mg/L, which is comparable to that found in typical chemically treated wastewater. This indicates that many dissolved organics are not removed by either chemical or UF treatment. Metals (such as copper and zinc) were found to be effectively removed by UF when the pH was greater than 8. Most membranes used as a second stage produced retentate with O&G of more than 40%. All attempts at UF skim oil treatment were unsuccessful because of high oil viscosity, which made pumping it through a membrane system almost impossible. Chemical reactions during the chemical deemulsification process might have been responsible for the high viscosity.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1998-11-01

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  • Water Environment Research® (WER®) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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