A petrochemical facility in Jubail, KSA utilizing C3-C4 dehydrogenation process was facing challenges with meeting the effluent discharge guidelines of Royal Commission. Studies conducted by the facility indicated the dehydrogenation process waste byproducts as the major source of the contamination in the wastewater. It also contributed to high odorous emissions levels which compromised with Safety, Health and Environmental (SHE) Guidelines of the facility.
The inlet water to the R.O. unit contains trace amounts of hydrocarbons that foul the membranes that are designed to operate at 400 m3/hr. The flow through the membrane was reduced to 150 m3/hr within a two month period because of increased hydrocarbon fouling. The standard testing methods and protocols adapted to determine the concentration and type of oil fouling the R.O. produced inconclusive results leading the end user to believe oil contamination was not the source of the reduced flow through the membrane.