Sludge Processing for Hydrocarbon Recovery and Waste Minimisation

The sludge generated during storage constitutes a hazardous material. Analysis shows that a high proportion of this sludge constitutes ‘recoverable hydrocarbon’ i.e. hydrocarbon which, if separated from the contaminants in the sludge, can be exported or processed and therefore has genuine value.

With the advent of increasingly strict environmental regulation of the disposal of hazardous wastes, sludge processing technologies have been developed, designed to recover at site the valuable component of the sludge thereby minimising the volume of material for ultimate disposal.

All of the available technologies rely upon the inherent difference in specific gravity of the components in the sludge which can be separated, in simple terms, into three phases: –

  • Hydrocarbon
  • Water
  • Sediment

Unfortunately, tank bottom sludge is often highly viscous under ambient conditions and this makes phase separation difficult. If we can enhance gravitational differences and reduce viscosity by efficient sludge preconditioning, then, when processed through a decanting centrifuge with chemical improvement at c. 3 times the force of gravity, efficient phase separation can be achieved. Efficient phase separation recovers the valuable hydrocarbons and minimises the volume of final sediments for ultimate disposal.

Many sludges are high in recoverable hydrocarbons, crude oil sludges for example can analyse at >95% recoverable hydrocarbon. The value of these recoverable hydrocarbons will, in most cases, be greater than the cost of sludge processing resulting in a positive net benefit to the tank owner.

BNI can offer the following independent services: –

  • Auditing and Reporting on Current Sludge Handling and Waste Disposal at your facility
  • Recommendations for future sludge handling activity
  • Scope of Work preparation to achieve your specific requirements
  • Assessment of requirement for and design of a Sludge Reception Facility
  • Review of and Compliance with relevant local and international Environmental legislation
  • Identification and sourcing of potential contractors – local and international
  • Pre-qualification of potential contractors – local and international
  • Bid screening and recommendations
  • Sourcing of appropriate proprietary sludge processing equipment for in-house applications.
  • Design and manufacture of bespoke sludge processing solutions for specific applications.