Removal of hydrocarbons from petrochemical wastewater by dissolved air flotation

N. I. Galil, D. Wolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The dissolved air flotation (DAF) method has an important role in the removal of hydrocarbons, as well as in the protection of the biological treatment, which usually follows the DAF. The aims of this study were to evaluate the removal efficiencies of suspended solids, general organic matter, hydrocarbons and phenols by DAF, as influenced by the flocculant type, aluminum sulfate (alum) or a cationic polyelectrolyte. Laboratory batch experiments included chemical flocculation followed by DAF, controlling the flocculant dose and the air to solids ratio. The characterization of the influent and effluent was based on general analysis of organic matter (COD), suspended solids, hydrocarbons and phenols. The influent to all experiments was supplied daily from the outlet of a full scale oil-water gravitational separation unit at a petrochemical complex in Haifa, Israel. The influent contained hydrocarbons in the range of 20 to 77 mg/L. Usually less than 10% were found in "free" form, 70 to 80% were emulsified and 10 to 20% were dissolved. The DAF process enabled us to reduce the general hydrocarbon content by 50 to 90%. The effluent was characterized by stable and uniform levels of suspended solids, and oil, almost without depending on the influent concentrations. The results indicate that the chemical flocculation followed by DAF removed efficiently the emulsified phase, which could be aggregated and separated to the surface. However, it was found that the process could also remove substantial amounts of dissolved organic matter. This mechanism could be explained by the hydrophobic characteristics of some of the substances, which could bind to the solid surfaces. It was found that aggregates created by the flocculation with the cationic polyelectrolite (C-577) could remove up to 40% from the dissolved hydrocarbon. Alum flocs also indicated removal of soluble materials, mainly phenols. The results obtained in this study indicated the possibility to improve the protection of the biological treatment process by preliminary removal of hydrophobic compounds, usually considered as either inhibitory or toxic. This removal can be based on sorption onto aggregates created by chemical flocculation, which can be efficiently removed by dissolved air flotation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-113
Number of pages7
JournalWater Science and Technology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Dissolved air flotation
  • Hydrocarbons removal
  • Petrochemical wastewater


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