Optimization of Washing Conditions and Adsorption Process for Petroleum Hydrocarbon Removal from Drill Cuttings Byproduct

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Thaksina Poyai
Theary Peng Orng
Nattawin Chawaloesphonsiya
Pisut Painmanakul
Saret Bun


Drill cuttings contaminated with total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) are generated from oil and gas exploration and production. The treatment of drill cuttings through washing process has been applied due to its high efficiency and less energy consumption. However, this process generates washing solution containing TPH as a petroleum waste, which requires further management. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to optimize the drill cuttings washing process using ethyl lactate (EL) as a green washing agent. Afterwards, the spent washing solution was purified through an adsorption process using two adsorbents: coal-based and coconut shell-based granular activated carbon (GAC). The result showed that liquid-to-solid (L/S) ratio was the most influential factor affecting the removal of TPH from drill cuttings by EL. The higher volume of EL used, the higher TPH extraction capacity. The mixing speed followed by washing time and rinse-to-solid (R/S) ratio also significantly affected the TPH removal efficiency, whereas the rinsing time was statistically insignificant. The optimum washing conditions were L/S ratio of 10 mL/g, washing time of 20 min, mixing speed of 100 rpm, R/S ratio of 10 mL/g, and rinsing time of 1 min, from which the TPH removal of 87.6% was achieved. For the adsorption experiments, coal-based GAC performed better in adsorbing TPH from the spent washing solution compared to coconut shell-based GAC. Thus, the overall results suggest that EL was a promising agent for removing TPH from drill cuttings, and coal-based GAC could be a potential adsorbent for spent EL purification and recovery.


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