Salinity Reduction of Real Produced Waters via Assisted Reverse Electrodialysis
Campisi, Giovanni
Cosenza, Alessandro
Randazzo, Serena
Tamburini, Alessandro
Micale, Giorgio

How to Cite

Campisi G., Cosenza A., Randazzo S., Tamburini A., Micale G., 2023, Salinity Reduction of Real Produced Waters via Assisted Reverse Electrodialysis, Chemical Engineering Transactions, 99, 445-450.


Produced waters (PWs) are waste streams generated during the crude oil extraction processes. The management of these wastewaters is complicated by the large volumes extracted during the oil recovery operations: these depends on the life of the oil-well: typically, 3 barrels of PWs on average are produced for each barrel of oil extracted. After oil separation, PWs are usually re-injected into the well, but this approach is not always possible without a preliminary and suitable treatment. Bioremediation techniques might be a good option, but they fail due to the PWs high salinity, which inhibit bacteria growth and metabolism. Thus, reducing their salinity upstream a bioremediation unit is a matter of crucial importance. To this aim, Assisted Reverse electrodialysis (ARED) along with the use of a dilute stream typically available on site is here proposed as a novel solution. In ARED an additional voltage is applied in the same direction of the salinity gradient through the membranes in order to enhance the passage of ions from the PW to the diluted solution, thus significantly reducing the required membrane area. An experimental campaign was carried out in order to assess the process feasibility. A fixed volume of real PWs was fed to a laboratory scale ARED unit. Each experimental test lasted for three days to reduce the salinity down to about 20 g l-1, a value compatible with the biomass metabolism for a downstream bioremediation step. Two different types of commercial membranes were tested and relevant energy consumptions were calculated. The long-runs performed did not show a significant loss of efficiency due to fouling, thus suggesting that ARED might a suitable technology for a pre-dilution of produced waters.