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PetroEnvironment 2016 in Saudi-Arabia

Maximilian Göltz, member of the Elite Graduate Program "Advanced Materials and Processes" shares his experiences at PetroEnvironment, a symposium hosted by the “Environmental Technology and Management Association” (ETMA) featuring talks and an exhibition from upstream and downstream companies within the oil, gas and petrochemical industry.

The symposium lasts three days and is visited by more than 30 companies including Saudi-Aramco, Sadara and various other well-known names. The symposium featured 40 speakers and about 40 poster presentations.

During the work on my Master’s degree about ‘Manufacturing, Characterisation and Testing of a Boron-Doped-Diamond Membrane for Electrochemical Applications’ at WW2 I did work on the electrochemical cleaning of wastewater from the oil industry. This so called ‘produced water’ contains a high quantity of organic oil and fat species. If this water is to be reused for irrigation, chemical processes or in any other way, the organic content has to be removed. This can be done via advanced oxidation processes, where the hydrocarbons are mineralized to water and carbon dioxide. Together with my supervisor Dr. Hanadi Ghanem I investigated an electrochemical advanced oxidation (EAO) process using diamond electrodes to reduce the carbon content. This contamination is measured in mg/l COD (=chemical oxygen demand), the amount of oxygen, necessary to oxidise all pollutants in the sample.

Our samples held a maximum COD of about 3000 mg/l and we were able to reduce it drastically within only six hours of treatment time. Our best results were achieved including a gravity settling pretreatment and allowed a 100%-removal of all oxidisable species. In general an over 90%-removal has been recorded for 6 hour treatment time.

This EAO-treatment is made possible by the diamond electrodes produced by CVD-coating at our chair: With resistively heated tungsten filaments an atmosphere of 99% H2 and 1% CH4 is activated and a diamond layer grows on a seeded substrate. This is done below atmospheric pressure at about 10 mbar. To make the diamond conductive, boron is used as a dopant. The so-produced diamond electrodes display some outstanding properties: besides extreme mechanical and chemical stability they show an ultra-wide electrochemical window, that enables the electrosynthesis of hydroxyl radicals (HO*). After fluorine this is the strongest oxidizing agent known. It triggers the formation of hydrogen peroxide, ozone and active chlorine in water and all these species mineralize the pollutants in the water.

The process is very reliant and simple, it does not use any chemicals and is most energy-saving. To present our research and promote the method we visited the PetroEnvironment 2016 during 22nd -24th February this year.

My supervisor gave a 30-minutes presentation in one of the technical sessions to present our work. I designed a poster about our work with diamond electrodes and EAO and presented it during the poster session. These presentations were judged and my efforts were honoured with the third prize. During the open poster sessions were many opportunities for exchange with scientific or technical personnel to discuss my topic in detail. I also visited the exhibition and had some good conversations about my topic and the petroleum industry. This was of great value as our chair is more into materials science than into chemical engineering. Here the interdisciplinary character of MAP helped a great deal by providing the basics of chemical engineering that I needed to participate in the technical discussions.

In conclusion I can say that the visit was most successful: Not only was our chair able to establish ties in an industry branch that has never heard about our topic but could use it in various processes, but also for my personal experience as I had new and exciting experiences and was able to learn about new things.

 Text und Bilder: Maximilian Göltz

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