Treatment of petroleum refinery effluents by a hybrid system of activated sludge and rotation biological reactor, followed by the sand filter

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Department of Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Civil Engineering, K. N. Toosi University of Technology, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Civil Engineering, K. N. Toosi University of Technology, Tehran, Iran.



In this study, a novel hybrid treatment system was designed to increase the removal efficiency of petroleum refinery wastewater. The hybrid system is a pilot scale including an activated sludge combined with a rotating biological contractor (RBC) and sand filter. Four vertical rotating polyurethane disks in the aeration tank combined activated sludge-rotating biological contactor pilot. The influent wastewater for this system was the effluent from the DAF unit in the Shahid Tondgooyan Oil Refining Co's wastewater treatment plant. The rotation rate of disks and retention time has been evaluated for their impact on the removal efficiency of total dissolved solids (TDS), dissolved oxygen (DO), pH, total suspended solids (TSS), turbidity (TU), chemical oxygen demand (COD), biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), ammonia (NH3). According to the results, enhancing the rotational speed of disks (from 4 rpm to 8 rpm) and increasing the retention time (from 6 hours to 10 hours) can improve COD, NH3, TSS, BOD5, TU, TDS, and oil removal efficiency of this system to 100, 98.52, 84.21, 100, 99.25, 13.32 and 100% respectively. Escalating the rotational speed beyond 8 rpm had reverse effects on the performance of this hybrid system. The rotational speed of 8 rpm and a retention time of 10 hours were the optimum conditions for removing the abovementioned parameters. It is worth mentioning that the high TU removal efficiency of the system was due to the presence of a sand filter. This system performed well in removing pollutants compared to other biological wastewater treatment systems.


  1. Khondabia VG, Fazlalia A, Arjomandzadeganb M, (2019). Biological treatment of phenol from petroleum refinery wastewater using mixed indigenous cultures in a rotating biological contactor: experimental and statistical studies. Desalination and Water Treatment, 1:9.
  2. Ratman I, Kusworo TD, Utomo DP, Azizah DA, Ayodyasena WA, (2020). Petroleum refinery wastewater treatment using three steps modified nanohybrid membrane coupled with ozonation as integrated pre-treatment. Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering, 8(4):103978.
  3. Sun Y, Liu Y, Chen J, Huang Y, Lu H, Yuan W, et al, (2021). Physical pretreatment of petroleum refinery wastewater instead of chemicals addition for collaborative removal of oil and suspended solids. Journal of Cleaner Production, 278:123821.
  4. Tang X, Eke PE, Scholz M, Huang S, (2009). Processes impacting on benzene removal in vertical-flow constructed wetlands. Bioresource technology, 100(1):227-34.
  5. Compton P, Dehkordi NR, Knapp M, Fernandez LA, Alshawabkeh AN, Larese-Casanova P, (2022). Heterogeneous Fenton-Like Catalysis of Electrogenerated H2O2 for Dissolved RDX Removal. Frontiers in Chemical Engineering, 47.
  6. Compton P, Dehkordi N, Larese Casanova P, Alshawabkeh A, (2022). Activated Carbon Modifications for Hetero-geneous Fenton-Like Catalysis. J Chem Eng Catal, 1:1-19.
  7. Dehkordi NR, Knapp M, Compton P, Fernandez LA, Alshawabkeh AN, Larese-Casanova P, (2022). Degradation of dissolved RDX, NQ, and DNAN by cathodic processes in an electrochemical flow-through reactor. Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering, 10(3):107865.
  8. Padaki M, Murali RS, Abdullah MS, Misdan N, Moslehyani A, Kassim M, et al, (2015). Membrane technology enhancement in oil–water separation. A review. Desalination, 357:197-207.
  9. Fard MB, Hamidi D, Alavi J, Jamshidian R, Pendashteh A, Mirbagheri SA, (2021). Saline oily wastewater treatment using Lallemantia mucilage as a natural coagulant: Kinetic study, process optimization, and modeling. Industrial Crops and Products, 163:113326.
  10. Jafarinejad S, (2017). Recent developments in the application of sequencing batch reactor (SBR) technology for the petroleum industry wastewater treatment. Chem Int, 3(3):241.
  11. Zebardasti A, Nikfar MH, Dekamin MG, Sanei E, Marquez I, Bazargan A, (2022). Analysis of patents in photocatalytic water and wastewater treatment. Part I–photocatalytic materials.
  12. Seyyedi M, Ayati B, (2021). Treatment of petroleum wastewater using a sequential hybrid system of electro-Fenton and NZVI slurry reactors, future prospects for an emerging wastewater treatment technology. International Journal of Environment and Waste Management, 28(3):328-48.
  13. Ebrahimi M, Kazemi H, Mirbagheri S, Rockaway TD, (2016). An optimized biological approach for treatment of petroleum refinery wastewater. Journal of environmental chemical engineering, 4(3):3401-8.
  14. Barbara K, Nora S, editors, (2005). United States environmental protection agency (US EPA) Proceedings: Nanotechnology and the Environment: Applications and Implications. Progress Review Workshop III Arlington, VA.
  15. Jafarinejad S, Jiang SC, (2019). Current technologies and future directions for treating petroleum refineries and petrochemical plants (PRPP) wastewaters. Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering, 7(5):103326.
  16. Tong K, Zhang Y, Liu G, Ye Z, Chu PK, (2013). Treatment of heavy oil wastewater by a conventional activated sludge process coupled with an immobilized biological filter. International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation, 84:65-71.
  17. Gernaey KV, Van Loosdrecht MC, Henze M, Lind M, Jørgensen SB, (2004). Activated sludge wastewater treatment plant modelling and simulation: state of the art. Environmental modelling & software, 19(9):763-83.
  18. Najafpour G, Yieng HA, Younesi H, Zinatizadeh A, (2005). Effect of organic loading on performance of rotating biological contactors using palm oil mill effluents. Process biochemistry, 40(8):2879-84.
  19. Singh S, (2019). Treatment and recycling of wastewater from oil refinery/petroleum industry. Advances in biological treatment of industrial waste water and their recycling for a sustainable future, Springer, p. 303-32.
  20. Ghalehkhondabi V, Fazlali A, Fallah B, (2021). Performance analysis of four-stage rotating biological contactor in nitrification and COD removal from petroleum refinery wastewater. Chemical Engineering and Processing-Process Intensification, 159:108214.
  21. Hamoda M, Al-Ghusain I, Al-Mutairi N, (2004). Sand filtration of wastewater for tertiary treatment and water reuse. Desalination, 164(3):203-11.
  22. Ji G, Sun T, Ni J, Tong J, (2009). Anaerobic baffled reactor (ABR) for treating heavy oil produced water with high concentrations of salt and poor nutrient. Bioresource Technology, 100(3):1108-14.
  23. Mokhtari HA, Mirbagheri SA, Dehkordi NR, (2021). Performance, evaluation, and modeling of an integrated petroleum refinery wastewater treatment system using multi-layer perceptron neural networks. Desalin Water Treat, 212:31-42.
  24. Gregory J, (2005). Particles in water: properties and processes, CRC Press.
  25. Almojjly A, Johnson D, Oatley-Radcliffe DL, Hilal N, (2018). Removal of oil from oil-water emulsion by hybrid coagulation/sand filter as pre-treatment. Journal of water process engineering, 26:17-27.
  26. Mirbagheri SA, Malekmohamadi S, Ehteshami M, (2017). Designing activated carbon and zeolite amended biosand filters: optimization using response surface methodology. Desalination and Water Treatment, 93:48-60.
  27. Shivaranjani S, Thomas LM, (2017). Performance study for treatment of institutional wastewater by activated sludge process. Int J Civ Eng Technol,8.
  28. Water SMftEo, Wastewater, (1989). American Public Health Association and American Water Works Association and Water Pollution Control Federation. Port City Press Baltimore, MD.
  29. Daneshvar N, Oladegaragoze A, Djafarzadeh N, (2006). Decolorization of basic dye solutions by electrocoagulation: an investigation of the effect of operational parameters. Journal of hazardous materials, 129(1-3):116-22.
  30. Ebrahimi M, Kazemi H, Mirbagheri S, Rockaway TD, (2018). Integrated approach to treatment of high-strength organic wastewater by using anaerobic rotating biological contactor. J Environ Eng, 144(2):04017102.
  31. Tabraiz S, Haydar S, Hussain G, (2016). Evaluation of a cost-effective and energy-efficient disc material for rotating biological contactors (RBC), and performance evaluation under varying condition of RPM and submergence. Desalination and Water Treatment, 57(43):20439-46.
  32. Di Palma L, Verdone N, (2009). The effect of disk rotational speed on oxygen transfer in rotating biological contactors. Bioresource technology, 100(3):1467-70.
  33. Yoong E, Lant P, (2001). Biodegradation of high strength phenolic wastewater using SBR. Water science and technology, 43(3):299-306.
  34. Qachach H, Abriak N, El Mahrad B, Souabi S, Tahiri M, (2021). Biological treatment of fuel wastewater generated from a thermal power plant by continuous and discontinuous aeration. Desalin Water Treat, 222:145-55.
  35. Parsons SA, Dixon DW, Jarvis PJ, Sharp E, (2007). Treatment of waters with elevated organic content, American Water Works Association.
  36. Del Borghi M, Palazzi E, Parisi F, Ferraiolo G, (1985). Influence of process variables on the modelling and design of a rotating biological surface. Water Research, 19(5):573-80.
  37. Yang Y, Tsukahara K, Sawayama S, (2007). Performance and methanogenic community of rotating disk reactor packed with polyurethane during thermophilic anaerobic digestion. Materials Science and Engineering: C, 27(4):767-72.
  38. Hamedi S, Babaeipour V, Rouhi M, (2021). Design, construction and optimization a flexible bench-scale rotating biological contactor (RBC) for enhanced production of bacterial cellulose by Acetobacter Xylinium. Bioprocess and Biosystems Engineering, 44(6):1071-80.
  39. Najafpour G, Zinatizadeh A, Lee L, (2006). Performance of a three-stage aerobic RBC reactor in food canning wastewater treatment. Biochemical engineering journal, 30(3):297-302.
  40. Irfan M, Waqas S, Khan JA, Rahman S, Kruszelnicka I, Ginter-Kramarczyk D, et al, (2022). Effect of Operating Parameters and Energy Expenditure on the Biological Performance of Rotating Biological Contactor for Wastewater Treatment. Energies, 15(10):3523.
  41. Waqas S, Bilad MR, Man Z, Wibisono Y, Jaafar J, Mahlia TMI, et al, (2020). Recent progress in integrated fixed-film activated sludge process for wastewater treatment: A review. Journal of environmental management, 268:110718.