February 2002

Special Report: Clean Fuels

Manage refinery spent caustic efficiently

A small Brazilian refiner uses an oxidation process to treat caustic from gasoline-sweetening efforts

Carlos, T. M. S., Refinaria de Petroleos de Manguinhos; Maugans, C. B., USFilter, Zimpro Products

Processing low-sulfur fuels will require refiners to use more polishing and sweetening processes to strip out sulfidic and acidic compounds. Caustic pre-washings and gasoline sweetening processes effectively remove mercaptans and disulfides from hydrocarbon streams. However, the spent caustic is considered a hazardous stream and must be handled as such. It cannot be directly managed by biological wastewater treatment processes. Thus, refiners must dispose of this product offsite or use other treatment methodologies. Consequently, as refiners use more polishing and caustic-washing applications to produce cleaner fuels, disposal/treatment of spent caustic is more crucial. Case

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