Application of Ultrasonic Waves in Oil-Contaminated Particle Treatment


Application of Ultrasonic Waves in Oil-Contaminated Particle Treatment

By Asriana Ibrahim, Mohd Hafidzal Mohd Hanafi and Nurul Hanim Razak

Ultrasonic technology uses the ability of sound waves with a higher frequency and inaudible range that can be propagated in various materials. The ultrasonic is considered to be a green emerging technology that can be used in many industrial applications. Ultrasonic has been widely used in the downstream and upstream of the oil and gas industry due to its high efficiency at low cost [1]. Petroleum crude oil- contaminated sand from oil wells is categorized as hazardous waste and should not be disposed of without treatment as it can contaminate the sea and land. A lot of cleaning methods were reported for oil-contaminated sand, such as microwave [2], chemical [3], and biology [4], which presented various approaches to solve the problems. However, each of these methods has its limitation.

Ultrasonic energy is considered one of the promising methods to treat oil-contaminated sand effectively. The working principle of ultrasonic is when a transducer produces sound vibration and travels throughout the oil-contaminated mixture. The sound waves will create compression and rarefaction, which leads to micro and macro mixing of the immiscible liquids. Microbubbles will form when the low pressure produced by rarefaction exceeds the threshold force between the oil molecules. The microbubbles will expand under negative pressure and collapse under positive pressure from acoustic energy. These microbubbles are also known as cavitation bubbles. In the meantime, micro streaming, derived from the nonlinear oscillations of bubbles, will cause violent turbulence called shockwave accompanied by micro jetting that will produce shear forces, which strong enough to break the bond between oil and the contaminated particles. The phenomenon is called a cavitation mechanism, illustrated as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Cavitation mechanism in an oily liquid.

Today, abundant studies have been carried out to fully understand the potential of using ultrasonic in oily wastewater treatment [5], oily sludge treatment [6] as well as vegetable oil treatment [7]. Future development in this field includes further investigation on the detailed separation mechanism and interaction between ultrasonic technological parameters and contaminated characteristics. Opportunities also arise in the areas of the application of ultrasonic cavitation effect on impurities removal from waste cooking oil.


[1] Pedrotti, M. F., Enders, M. S., Pereira, L. S., Mesko, M. F., Flores, E. M., & Bizzi, C. A. (2018). Intensification of ultrasonic-assisted crude oil demulsification based on acoustic field distribution data. Ultrasonics sonochemistry, 40, 53-59.

[2] Chang, H. J., Jou, C. J. G., & Lee, C. L. (2011). Treatment of heavy oil contaminated sand by microwave energy. Environmental Engineering Science, 28(12), 869-873.

[3] Bonal, N. S., Paramkusam, B. R., & Basudhar, P. K. (2018). Enhancement of surfactant efficacy during the cleanup of engine oil contaminated soil using salt and multi-walled carbon nanotubes. Journal of hazardous materials, 351, 54-62.

[4] Al-Hawash, A. B., Alkooranee, J. T., Abbood, H. A., Zhang, J., Sun, J., Zhang, X., & Ma, F. (2018). Isolation and characterization of two crude oil-degrading fungi strains from Rumaila oil field, Iraq. Biotechnology reports, 17, 104-109.

[5] Al-Rubaiey, N. A., & AlBarazanjy, M. G. (2018). Ultrasonic technique in treating wastewater by electrocoagulation. Engineering and Technology Journal, 36(1 Part C), 54-62.

[6] Gao, Y. X., Ding, R., Chen, X., Gong, Z. B., Zhang, Y., & Yang, M. (2018). Ultrasonic washing for oily sludge treatment in pilot scale. Ultrasonics, 90, 1-4.

[7] Halim, H. H., & Thoo, Y. Y. (2018). Effect of ultrasound treatment on oxidative stability of sunflower oil and palm oil. International Food Research Journal, 25(5), 1959-1967.




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