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Anaerobic treatment of Petroleum Refinery Wastewater in UASB reactor
This research project addresses the challenge of petroleum refinery wastewater (PRW) treatment under anaerobic conditions. PRW contains refractory organic (difficult to biodegrade) and toxic chemicals, and conventional treatment uses energy intensive aerobic processes that do not recover energy or produce bioproducts of value.
The primary objective of this project is to develop an anaerobic processes that utilizes the upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactor to treat PRW to reduce the concentration of organic chemicals, measured as chemical oxygen demand and total organic carbon. The co-objectives include recovery of energy as biomethane and cultivation of microalgae biomass on UASB effluent for nutrient capture and recycle that can be used to balance the carbon to nitrogen ratio within the UASB for more efficient operation.
In addition, granulated sludge that is produced within the UASB reactor is actually a “willing horse” or “hardy beast” for the treatment process and it is also a bioproduct. The added value is its ability to consume PRW contaminants and survive during transportation outside of the UASB to be used as working agent in newly built UASB reactors. Also, the excessively formed granular sludge could be potentially used as a solid fertilizer. Therefore the research project embodies the concept of the conversion of fossil fuel waste into biofuel and bioproducts.