Petrochemical Industry

Water solutions for refineries and other petrochemical processes

Saltworks can help meet the unique challenges of petrochemical industry wastewater treatment: boosting water recovery, saving energy, and lowering costs. Applications include process waters such as cooling tower blowdown, or wastewater that has contacted hydrocarbons and may include oils and grease, heavy metals, ammonia, and more.

Petrochemical Wastewaters

Oil refineries are indispensable in producing fuels and other essential products. Refineries make steam and use water for cooling systems, cleaning equipment, and treatments such as stripping and desalting. Wastewaters are often challenging to treat or dispose of, some having come into direct contact with the hydrocarbon products. However, these wastewaters can be recycled internally, with increased recovery and lower costs than possible in the past. Saltworks can help to:
  • Filter suspended solids & hydrocarbons
  • Selectively remove chlorides & dissolved solids
  • Target contaminants such as heavy metals, scaling ions, & ammonia
  • Treat water for discharge
  • Recycle cooling tower blowdown with >98% recovery
  • Reduce brine volume, even to minimal liquid discharge (MLD) or zero liquid discharge (ZLD). 
Photo of a pond of highly turbid produced water containing oils and grease in the oil and gas industry
Photo of a petrochemical refinery facility

Process Water & Brine Management

Saltworks’ brine management solutions can produce clean water from reverse osmosis brines, ion exchange regeneration wastes, and other concentrated saline waters. Our experts can help you to understand your brine minimization options, and the costs involved in taking each incremental step.


For membrane systems, we can maximize recovery from various brines and wastewaters with our ScaleSense real-time ion-specific sensors or our XtremeRO brine concentrator.


After membrane system recovery has been optimized, our thermal desalination solutions from the SaltMaker family of modular, fully packaged industrial evaporator-crystallizers can help you to achieve minimal (MLD) or zero liquid discharge (ZLD). Refineries also often have low grade heat sources, which can lower the cost of our wasteheat-driven SaltMaker options.

Chlorides and Desalters

Many crude oils contain chlorides, which must be washed out prior to refining into its valued byproducts. Desalters are a common unit operation wherein crude oil is washed with low salinity water, moving the chlorides from the crude to the water.


Traditionally this wastewater must be blown-down (released somewhere) and replaced with freshwater. It is now possible to selectively remove chlorides from the wastewater and recycle it back to the desalter. Hydrocarbon byproducts can be left in the wastewater as they do not hinder the process. This avoids complex processing steps and enables higher recovery.


FlexEDR Selective chloride removal systems act like a kidney in your wastewater circuit: pulling chlorides (and its counter cation) from a solution.

Photo of a FlexEDR E150 stack with a transparent background
Photo of XtremeUF columns in a full-scale skidded plant

Ceramic Ultrafiltration—XtremeUF 

Saltworks’ XtremeUF ultrafiltration system uses robust, industry-standard ceramic membranes to remove particles, oils, and grease >0.01 µm. XtremeUF is packaged in a well-engineered and intelligently automated skid that keeps membranes clean and performing as it operates.


XtremeUF can treat highly impaired waters where polymeric ultrafiltration cannot cope, or where DAF, flocculation, clarification systems are too large or present air emission risks. XtremeUF can offer:

  • Compact, resilient processes less susceptible to changing operating conditions
  • Higher quality output water with less slip of smaller particles, ensuring you meet your discharge standards
  • Zero coagulant addition, reducing chemical consumption and fouling potential of any downstream membrane assets
  • Increased capacity per unit footprint

Depending on the application—and with consideration of the above four points—Saltworks may recommend the use of traditional processes, or XtremeUF. We can take a look at your application and arm you with technical and economic information to make an informed assessment, or offer a pilot program to prove performance.


Heavy metals such as arsenic, nickel, and cobalt can be removed with our BrineRefine chemical precipitation and filtration solution. Production of amorphous solids from these processes requires a high rate of slurry thickening and pressing to ensure sound water recovery and economics.


The plant must react to process condition changes, remain clean (unplugged), online, and reliably extract solids. Our intelligently automated BrineRefine system achieves these goals, easing operator burden and lowering costs. BrineRefine can achieve 100% water recovery in heavy metal removal applications, generating a solid filter cake as the only waste product.


Contact us to learn more about our solutions for petrochemical industry wastewaters.

Photo of a filter press with precipitated, filtered solids underneath

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Cooling Tower Blowdown

Cooling Tower Blowdown

Saltworks can solve your cooling tower blowdown challenges. We can add novel sensors and controls to your cooling tower to minimize water consumption and blowdown production. We can treat blowdown for re-use at your cost-optimized freshwater recovery or achieve zero liquid discharge.