INTEGROIL: Sustainability for Industrial Sectors with Complex Waters

Water is an increasingly valuable resource. Finding ways to optimize its cycle is a real challenge, both for human and industrial use. The population growth and the increased rate of industrialization require technological solutions to increase the efficiency in wastewater treatment. In previous articles, we addressed new desalination and purification systems. However, the industry has its own water needs, with different levels of purity in demand.   

Among the different industrial sectors, Oil&Gas rank within the top eight industries with the highest water demand. This fact can be explained by the large amount of water required for the extraction and refining of crude oil. The outcome is an enormous amount of wastewater requiring a complex treatment because of the number of pollutants and their different types, which vary according to the extraction techniques and location.

Water scarcity and the tightening of environmental regulations area leading this industrial sector to embrace innovative technologies for a more efficient water management and even its use for other purposes.

The INTEGROIL project provides a new solution for the treatment of water with variable composition, aiming to increase the reuse of water by 50%. The Oil&Gas sector, because of its complexity, is the optimum environment for the implementation of this technology, although the solution will hopefully cover the needs of other industrial sectors that treat complex waters.

Integrating a range of technologies to solve complex challenges

The complexity of the sector requires powerful, flexible and versatile technologies. Thus, INTEGROIL is combining a range of proven technologies that include dissolved air flotation (DAF), filtration using ceramic and polymeric membranes, advanced oxidation and the addition of chemicals with a low environmental impact. These technologies will be managed through a decision support system (DSS), which plays a crucial role to guarantee that said technologies are properly integrated and operate according to the sustainability goals. These goals comprise low consumption of energy and chemical substances, high water efficiency or all of them in combination.

In short, the INTEGROIL platform has been designed as an adaptive system (able to treat wastewater from different industries), flexible (able to manage different types of wastewater while meeting regulations) and easy to use (the DSS allows non-specialized users to operate the system).

INTEGROIL platform

The project was initiated on 1st June 2016 and the technology is expected to be implemented under real circumstances by early 2020. Currently, the design and construction stage of the demonstration plant integrating the different technologies has already been completed.

To that end, a thorough analysis campaign has been carried out to typify the water generated in the extraction of crude oil and the wastewater from refining processes. The results are key to adapt the different individual technologies to the operating conditions within the Oil&Gas sector.

Each technology partner involved in the project (ACCIONA, LIKUID, REP, BWA, URV y APLICAT) has therefore carried out the design and manufacturing of the individual modules, adapted to the Oil&Gas sector conditions, to achieve a single solution.

The integrated INTEGROIL solution provides 16 potential operating modes depending on the initial quality of the treated water and the quality required for the resulting water. The DSS suggests several settings related to the quality of the input and output water, with sustainability criteria considered. A range of signs and parameters can be viewed to improve the decision-making process to optimize the operation of the plant.

The INTEGROIL integrated solution is currently being tested within a representative crude oil extraction context, the upstream scenario. Following that, it will also be tested in a TUPRAS-owned oil refinery, which will provide the downstream conditions.

The project comes together with a detailed Water Cycle Analysis (2.-0 LCA Consultants), and the communication to support the commercialization of the results, with the contribution of the European Desalination Society (EDS).  

Funded by the H2020 (GA-688989) program, the technology behind the INTEGROIL project will foster the sustainability of the most water-hungry industrial sectors by increasing the amount of reusable water.   

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