A review on the application of different treatment processes for emulsified oily wastewater

  • S. Putatunda
  • S. Bhattacharya
  • D. SenEmail author
  • C. Bhattacharjee


Oily wastewater, one of the major threats to environment nowadays, mainly originates from petrochemical, heavy metal, food processing, paint, automobile industrial premises. This oil contaminated wastewater is mutagenic and carcinogenic to human health as well as inhibitory to plant growth. Without any proper treatment if such oily water stream disposed into water bodies, apart from increasing the BOD and COD, it also imparts a sunlight impervious layer at the top of the stream restricting the entrance of sunlight followed by disruption of aquatic ecosystem. Hence proper treatment of oily wastewater before its discharge to environment is one of the primary concerns. Researchers have used several technologies such as, gravity sedimentation, coagulation, flotation, coagulation composite flotation, demulsification, membrane separation, flocculation, chemical precipitation and bioremediation have been explored to purify this oil contaminated wastewater to a desired level. Especially, the uniqueness of the treatment will require a through merit analysis of the process, when the wastewater comprises of oil–water emulsion. Hence, in this review an analytical insight on the merits of the process for the treatment of such emulsified system has been provided. The review article also discusses different microorganisms that are required for bioremediation of either oil spill over a large aquatic zone or oil–water emulsion at source point. Finally, the manuscript highlighted some of the effluent treatment plants’ operational process from different industries, which might provide a typical understanding of a comparative view between different treatment processes.


Emulsion Oily wastewater Membrane Advanced oxidation process Bioremediation 



The authors acknowledge UGC sponsored INCP-2014/10060 titled “Research and education within advanced hybrid separation techniques in industrial wastewater treatment” for sponsoring the funding of this research work. The scholarship (SRF-Direct) from Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (File No. 09/096(778)/2013-EMR-J and 09/096(0879)/2017-EMR-I) along with DST (Vide Sanction Letter No. DST/TSG/AMT/2015/276 dated 11.06.2016) is also acknowledged for extending financial support to the task.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


  1. Aguilera F, Méndez J, Pásaro E, Laffon B (2010) Review on the effects of exposure to spilled oils on human health. J Appl Toxicol 30(4):291–301Google Scholar
  2. Ahmad AL, Bhatia S, Ibrahim N, Sumathi S (2005) Adsorption of residual oil from palm oil mill effluent using rubber powder. Braz J Chem Eng 22(3):371–379CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Al-Majed AA, Al-Majed AR, Hossain ME (2012) A sustainable approach to controlling oil spills. J Environ Manage 113:213–227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Amat-Bronnert APLA, Castegnaro M (2007) Genotoxic activity and induction of biotransformation enzymes in two human cell lines after treatment by Erika fuel extract. Environ Toxicol Pharmacol 23(1):89–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Anwar S, Nabeela A, Sundarrajan S, Abdulrahim S, Nizar S, Balamurugan R, Ramakrishna S (2013) Advancement in electrospun nanofibrous membranes modification and their application in water treatment. Membranes 3:266–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Atlas RM, Hazen TC (2011) Oil biodegradation and bioremediation: a tale of the two worst spills in U.S. history. Environ Sci Technol 45:6709–6715CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Balamurugan R, Sundarrajan S, Ramakrishna S (2011) Recent trends in nanofibrous membranes and their suitability for air and water filtrations. Membranes 1:232–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Barhate R, Ramakrishna S (2007) Nanofibrous filtering media: filtration problems and solutions from tiny materials. J Memb Sci 296(1–2):1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Camilli R, Reddy CM, Yoerger DR, Van Mooy BAS, Jakuba MV, Kinsey JC, McIntyre CP, Sylva SP, Maloney JV (2010) Tracking hydrocarbon plume transport and biodegradation at deepwater horizon. Science 330:201–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Champion KM, Zengler K, Rabus R (1999) Anaerobic degradation of ethylbenzene and toluene in denitrifying strain EbN1 proceeds via independent substrate-induced pathways. J Mol Microbiol Biotechnol 1:157–164Google Scholar
  11. Chapman H, Purnell K, Law RJ, Kirby MF (2007) The use of chemical dispersants to combat oil spills at sea: a review of practice and research needs in Europe. Mar Pollut Bull 54:827–838CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Daaou M, Bendedouch D (2012) Water pH and surfactant addition effects on the stability of an Algerian crude oil emulsion. J Saudi Chem Soc King Saud Univ 16(3):333–337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dada E, Akinola M, Haruna R (2018) Physico-chemical and genotoxicity assessments of palm oil mill effluent generated by a corporate refinery in Nigeria. Pollution 4(1):83–92Google Scholar
  14. Daugulis AJ, McCracken CM (2003) Microbial degradation of high and low molecular weight polyaromatic hydrocarbons in a two-phase partitioning bioreactor by two strains of Sphingomonas sp. Biotechnol Lett 25(17):1441–1444CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Del Colle R, Longo E, Fontes SR (2007) Demulsification of water/sunflower oil emulsions by a tangential filtration process using chemically impregnated ceramic tubes. J Memb Sci 289(1–2):58–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Duke NC, Burns KA, Swannell RPJ, Dalhaus O, Rupp RJ (2000) Dispersant use and a bioremediation strategy as alternate means of reducing impacts of large oil spills on mangroves: the gladstone field trials. Mar Pollut Bull 41(7–12):403–412CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. El-Naas MH, Alhaija MA, Al-Zuhair S (2014) Evaluation of a three-step process for the treatment of petroleum refinery wastewater. J Environ Chem Eng 2(1):56–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Etkin DS (1999) Oil spill dispersants: from technology to policy. Cutter Information Corp, ArlingtonGoogle Scholar
  19. Faibish RS, Cohen Y (2001) Fouling and rejection behavior of ceramic and polymer-modified ceramic membranes for ultrafiltration of oil-in-water emulsions and microemulsions. Colloids Surf A 191:27–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Faria NT, Santos MV, Fernandes P, Fonseca LL, Fonseca C, Ferreira FC (2014) Production of glycolipid biosurfactants, mannosylerythritol lipids, from pentoses and d-glucose/d-xylose mixtures by Pseudozyma yeast strains. Process Biochem 49(11):1790–1799CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fingas M (2001) The basics of oil spill cleanup. Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, pp 120–125. ISBN 1-56670-537-1Google Scholar
  22. Goldblatt AME, Gucciardi JM, Huban CM, Vasconcellos SR, Liao WP (2014) New polyelectrolyte emulsion breaker improves oily wastewater cleanup at lower usage rates. GE Power & Water—Water & Process Technologies, pp 1–6Google Scholar
  23. Ha M, Kwon H, Cheong HK, Lim S, Yoo SJ, Kim EJ, Park SG, Lee J, Chung BC (2012) Urinary metabolites before and after cleanup and subjective symptoms in volunteer participants in cleanup of the Hebei Spirit oil spill. Sci Total Environ 429:167–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Habibollahi H, Salehzadeh A (2018) Isolation, optimization, and molecular characterization of a lipase producing bacterium from oil contaminated soils. Pollution 4(1):119–128Google Scholar
  25. Hassan MA, Yeom BY, Wilkie A, Pourdeyhimi B, Khan SA (2013) Fabrication of nanofiber meltblown membranes and their filtration properties. J Memb Sci 427:336–344CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ibrahim ML, Ijah UJJ, Manga SB, Bilbis LS, Umar S (2013) Production and partial characterization of biosurfactant produced by crude oil degrading bacteria. Int Biodeterior Biodegradation 81:28–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Imandi S, Bandaru V, Somalanka S, Garapati H (2007) Optimization of medium constituents for the production of citric acid from byproduct glycerol using Doehlert experimental design. Enzyme Microb Technol 40:1367–1372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ito T, Tanaka M, Shinkawa H, Nakada T, Ano Y, Kurano N, Tomita M (2013) Metabolic and morphological changes of an oil accumulating trebouxiophycean alga in nitrogen-deficient conditions. Metabolomics 9(Suppl 1):178–187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Jagmann N, Brachvogel HP, Philipp B (2010) Parasitic growth of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in co-culture with the chitinolytic bacterium Aeromonas hydrophila. Environ Microbiol 12(6):1787–1802CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kajitvichyanukul P, Hung YT, Wang L (2011) Membrane technologies for oil–water separation. In: Wang L, Chen J, Hung YT, Shammas N (eds) Membrane and desalination technologies. Humana Press, New York, pp 639–668CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Khamforoush M, Pirouzram O, Hatami T (2015) The evaluation of thin film composite membrane composed of an electrospun polyacrylonitrile nanofibrous mid-layer for separating oil–water mixture. Desalination 359:14–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kleindienst S, Paul JH, Joye SB (2015) Using dispersants after oil spills: impacts on the composition and activity of microbial communities. Nat Rev Microbiol 13:388–396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kota AK, Kwon G, Choi W, Mabry JM, Tuteja A (2012) Hygro-responsive membranes for effective oil–water separation. Nat Commun 3(1025):1–8Google Scholar
  34. Kujawinski EB, Kido Soule MC, Valentine DL, Boysen AK, Longnecker K, Redmond MC (2011) Fate of dispersants associated with the deepwater horizon oil spill. Environ Sci Technol 45:1298–1306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lam SS, Russell AD, Lee CL, Chase HA (2012) Microwave-heated pyrolysis of waste automotive engine oil: influence of operation parameters on the yield, composition, and fuel properties of pyrolysis oil. Fuel 92(1):327–339CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lessard RR, Demarco G (2000) The significance of oil spill dispersants. Spill Sci Technol Bull 6(1):59–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lima JF, Vilar EO (2014) The use of ultrasound to reduce cathodic incrustation. Ultrason Sonochem 21(3):963–969CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Liu P, Li C, Zhao Z, Lu G, Cui H, Zhang W (2014) Induced effects of advanced oxidation processes. Sci Rep 4:1–4Google Scholar
  39. Maedeh PA, Nasrabadi T, Wu W, Al Dianty M (2017) Evaluation of oil pollution dispersion in an unsaturated sandy soil environment. Pollution 3(4):701–711Google Scholar
  40. Mag TK, Green DH, Kwong AT (1983) Continuous acidulation of soapstock and recovery of acid oil. J Am Oil Chem Soc 60(5):1008–1011CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mcdermott GN (1976) Liquid waste treatment in the vegetable oil processing industry—U.S. practices. Chem Technol Fuels Oils 53:449–458Google Scholar
  42. McGenity TJ, Folwell BD, McKew BA, Sanni GO (2012) Marine crude-oil biodegradation: a central role for interspecies interactions. Aquat Biosyst 8:2–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. McKew BA, CoulonF YM, Denaro R, Genovese M, Smith CJ, McGenity TJ (2007) Efficacy of intervention strategies for bioremediation of crude oil in marine systems and effects on indigenous hydrocarbonoclastic bacteria. Environ Microbiol 9(6):1562–1571CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Moatar F, Shadizadeh SR, Karbassi AR, Ardalani E, Derakhshi RA, Asadi M (2010) Determination of naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) in formation water during oil exploration. J Radioanal Nucl Chem 283(1):3–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Munter R (2001) Advanced oxidation processes—current status and prospects. Proc Est Acad Sci, Chem 50(2):59–80Google Scholar
  46. Nikolopoulou M, Kalogerakis N (2010) Biostimulation strategies for enhanced bioremediation of marine oil spills including chronic pollution. In: Timmis K (ed) Handbook of hydrocarbon and lipid microbiology, SE-187. Springer, Berlin, pp 2521–2529CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Njoku KL (2017) Responses of accessions of Zea mays to crude oil pollution using growth indices and enzyme activities as markers. Pollution 4(1):183–193Google Scholar
  48. Overholt WA, Green SJ, Marks KP, Venkatraman R, Prakash O, Kostka E (2013) Draft genome sequences for oil-degrading bacterial strains from beach sands impacted by the deepwater horizon oil spill. Genome Announc 1(6):1–2CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Pal S, Banat F, Almansoori A, Haija MA (2016) Review of technologies for biotreatment of refinery wastewaters: progress, challenges and future opportunities. Environ Technol Rev 5(1):12–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Paustenbach DJ (2002) The U.S. EPA science advisory board evaluation (2001) of the EPA dioxin reassessment. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 36:211–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Popp N, Schlömann M, Mau M (2006) Bacterial diversity in the active stage of a bioremediation system for mineral oil hydrocarbon-contaminated soils. Microbiology 152:3291–3304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Priambodo R, Shih Y, Huang Y, Huang Y (2011) Treatment of real wastewater using semi batch (photo)-electro-fenton method. Sustain Environ Res 21(6):389–393Google Scholar
  53. Qbayori OS, Salam LB, Ogunwumi OS (2014) Biodegradation of fresh and used engine oils by Pseudomonas aeruginosa LP5. J Bioremediat Biodegrad 5(1):1–7Google Scholar
  54. Qiao N, Shao Z (2010) Isolation and characterization of a novel biosurfactant produced by hydrocarbon-degrading bacterium Alcanivorax dieselolei B-5. J Appl Microbiol 108(4):1207–1216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Rahman KSM, Rahman TJ, Kourkoutas Y, Petsas I, Marchant R, Banat IM (2003) Enhanced bioremediation of n-alkane in petroleum sludge using bacterial consortium amended with rhamnolipid and micronutrients. Bioresour Technol 90(2):159–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Rashtchi R, Karbassi AR, Mozafari H, Moradpour Tayebi E (2013) Investigation of polluting industries and oil waste reception facility in Khark Island in Persian Gulf. Tech J Eng Appl Sci 3(14):1346–1349Google Scholar
  57. Raza A, Ding B, Zainab G, El-Newwhy M, Al-Deyab SS, Yu J (2014) In situ cross-linked superwetting nanofibrous membranes for ultrafast oil/water separation. J Mater Chem A 2:10137–10145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Redmond MC, Valentine DL (2012) Natural gas and temperature structured a microbial community response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 109(50):20292–20297CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Rincón GJ, La Motta EJ (2014) Simultaneous removal of oil and grease, and heavy metals from artificial bilge water using electro-coagulation/flotation. J Environ Manage 144:42–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Russell S, Chase A (2011) From waste to valuable fuel: how microwave-heated pyrolysis can recycle waste automotive engine oil. Prepr Pap Am Chem Soc Div Fuel Chem 56(1):19–21Google Scholar
  61. Sabirova JS, Ferrer M, Regenhardt D, Timmis KN, Golyshin PN (2006) Proteomic insights into metabolic adaptations in Alcanivorax borkumensis induced by alkane utilization. J Bacteriol 188(11):3763–3773CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Salahi A, Badrnezhad R, Abbasi M, Mohammadi T, Rekabdar F (2011) Oily wastewater treatment using a hybrid UF/RO system. Desalin Water Treat 28(1–3):75–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Schneiker S, Martins dos Santos VP, Bartels D, Bekel T, Brecht M, Buhrmester J, Golyshin PN (2006) Genome sequence of the ubiquitous hydrocarbon-degrading marine bacterium Alcanivorax borkumensis. Nat Biotechnol 24(8):997–1004CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Sealock LJ, Baker EG, Elliott DC (1991) Treatment method for emulsified petroleum wastes, WO1991003041Google Scholar
  65. Singh H, Lal N (2010) Environment audit—an effective tool in improving the effluent quality—a case study. In: Petrotech-2010 m New Delhi, India, pp 1–7Google Scholar
  66. Sivakumar G, Xu J, Thompson RW, Yang Y, Randol-Smith P, Weathers PJ (2012) Integrated green algal technology for bioremediation and biofuel. Bioresour Technol 107:1–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Srinivasan A, Viraraghavan T (2010) Oil removal from water using biomaterials. Bioresour Technol 101:6594–6600CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Swannell RPJ, Daniel F (1999) Effect of dispersants on oil biodegradation under simulated marine conditions. In: Proceedings of the 1999 international oil spill conference, Washington, US, pp 169–176Google Scholar
  69. Tchobanoglous G, Burton FL (1991) Wastewater engineering: treatment, disposal, and reuse. McGraw-Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  70. Tony M, Zhao Y, Purcell P, El-Sheriny M (2009) Evaluating the photo-catalytic application of Fenton’s reagent augmented with TiO2 and ZnO for the mineralization of an oil–water emulsion. J Environ Sci Heal Part A 44:488–493CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Viswanadam G, Chase GG (2013) Water–diesel secondary dispersion separation using superhydrophobic tubes of nanofibers. Sep Purif Technol 104:81–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Viter R, Katoch A, Kim SS (2013) Grain size dependent bandgap shift of SnO2 nanofibers. Met Mater Int 20(1):163–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Wahi R, Chuah LA, Choong TSY, Ngaini Z, Nourouzi MM (2013) Oil removal from aqueous state by natural fibrous sorbent: an overview. Sep Purif Technol 11:51–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Yakimov MM, Golyshin PN, Lang S, Moore ERB, Abraham W, Lunsdorf H, Timmis KN (1998) Alcanivorax borkurnensis gen. now, sp. nov., a new, hydrocarbon-degrading and surfactant-producing marine bacterium. Int J Syst Bacteriol 48:339–348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Yakimov MM, Timmis KN, Golyshin PN (2007) Obligate oil-degrading marine bacteria. Curr Opin Biotechnol 18(3):257–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Yang CL (2007) Electrochemical coagulation for oily water demulsification. Sep Purif Technol 54(2007):388–395CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Yi XS, Yu SL, Shi WX, Sun N, Jin LM, Wang S, Sun LP (2011) The influence of important factors on ultrafiltration of oil/water emulsion using PVDF membrane modified by nano-sized TiO2/Al2O3. Desalination 281:179–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Zhou YB, Tang XY, Hu XM, Fritschi S, Lu J (2008) Emulsified oily wastewater treatment using a hybrid-modified resin and activated carbon system. Sep Purif Technol 63(2):400–406CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Zhou J, Chang Q, Wang Y, Wang J, Meng G (2010) Separation of stable oil–water emulsion by the hydrophilic nano-sized ZrO2 modified Al2O3 microfiltration membrane. Sep Purif Technol 75(3):243–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Zhuannian L, Yongmei L, Liang C, Xiaogang H (2011) Treatment of emulsion wastewater by demulsification-fenton oxidation-coagulation. In: 2011 fourth international conference on intelligent computation technology and automation, pp 918–921. IEEEGoogle Scholar
  81. Zimmer T, Ohkuma M, Ohta A, Takagi M, Schunck WH (1996) The CYP52 multigene family of Candida maltosa encodes functionally diverse n-alkane-inducible cytochromes p450. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 224(3):784–789CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Islamic Azad University (IAU) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical EngineeringJadavpur UniversityKolkataIndia
  2. 2.Department of Chemical EngineeringHeritage Institute of TechnologyKolkataIndia

Personalised recommendations