Removal of dissolved hydrocarbons from production water by Macro Porous Polymer Extraction (MPPE)

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This paper presents the successful application of Macro Porous Polymer Extraction (MPPE) technology to remove hydrocarbons from the produced water of a natural gas plant. This water is discharged to the public watertreatment facilities and is subject to a maximum hydrocarbon contents. Elf Petroland together with Akzo Nobel investigated the use of a Macro Porous Polymer filled with an extraction liquid for hydrocarbon removal. A MPPE unit was installed June ‘94 at Elf Petroland in Harlingen (The Netherlands), downstream the reflux drum of the DEG/TEG regenerators and treated the condensed water stream. The unit proved to be very efficient. The hydrocarbon content was reduced from approx. 2000 mg/l to less than 0.5 mg/l. Since May ’97 the performance is tested for the treatment of all produced water (process, formation and wastewater) to a maximum benzene concentration of 100 ug/l.

MPPE utilises two proven technologies, liquid-liquid extraction and steam stripping with an innovative medium (the MPPE particles). Hydrocarbon contaminated water is passed through a column packed with MPPE particles. An extraction liquid immobilised within the polymer matrix removes the hydrocarbons from the water. The purified water passes out of the column directly for reuse or discharge. All hydrocarbons with a relatively high affinity for the extraction liquid (compared to water) are removed. Periodical in-situ regeneration of the extraction liquid containing MPPE particles is accomplished with low pressure steam. The steam volatises the hydrocarbons. Volatised hydrocarbons are condensed and then separated by gravity. The hydrocarbon phase is recovered and sold as product, the water phase is recycled to the system.

Besides the Harlingen pilot, the unit is proven successful in other branches of industry. At present fourteen units are operational or under construction in the USA and Europe, of which six treat process water and eight are used in the field of groundwater remediation. Removal efficiencies up to 99.9999 % are achieved for a wide varieties and combinations of aliphatic, aromatic and halogenated (e.g. chlorinated) hydrocarbons

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