In its concern for maintaining and enhancing the environmental quality of water bodies, the Navy has been developing various oil pollution abatement systems. One potential process for the separation of oil in bilge water is ultrafiltration, a pressure-driven membrane process which can separate, concentrate, and fractionate macromolecular solutes and suspended species from water. A tubular ultrafiltration system using cellulosic and noncellulosic membranes was tested with bilge oil obtained from a patrol craft. Tests were also conducted with tap water, river water, a turbine lubricating oil, and a fuel oil, alone and in combination with a nonionic detergent. The addition of the detergent was observed to result in a steeper flux decline than when any of the fluids were evaluated alone. Both membrane types produced a permeate with an oil content generally less than 15 mg/l. Although the noncellulosic membranes exhibited higher flux rates than the cellulosic membranes, only the former could be restored by a cleaning operation to its initial water flux after experiencing a decline in flux. A cumulative irreversible flux decline was exhibited by the cellulosic membrane. Cleaning operations, some of which were time-consuming, consisted of flushing the membrane with ultrafiltrate, distilled water, tap water, or the manufacturer’s enzyme-detergent formulation. Only the last of these, when employed at elevated temperature (125°F), restored the initial water flux of the noncellulosic membrane.

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