Evaluation of membranes for the treatment of oilfield-produced water

Large quantities of water are generated during oil extraction. Reinjection of this effluent is frequently the most suitable option for environmental considerations. For this purpose, the water produced must have characteristics that will prevent the plugging of the reservoir rocks, i.e., suspended solids and oil and grease content must be lower than 5 mg L-1. This work evaluated the performance of membranes for water treatment, based upon long-term experiments with real effluent, evaluating the permeate flux over time and the effluent characteristics. The results indicated that it is possible to obtain a permeate flux with suspended solids content with less than 1 mg L-1 oil and a grease concentration in the range of 1 to 3 mg L-1 using membranes with a pore size of 0,1 (m. After 50 hours of permeation, the permeate fluxes obtained with the polymeric and ceramic membranes were equal to 50 and 300 L h-1 m-2, respectively. With a chemical regeneration procedure, it was possible to recover 95% of the ceramic membrane's original permeability and 30% of the polymeric membrane's permeability. Considering the permeate quality, the regeneration efficiency of the membrane and the fluxes achieved, it is possible to point out the use of ceramic membranes as a potential technology for treating oilfield-produced water, and it has the advantage of being a compact and robust process.