The waste oils generated represent a 60 % of lubricants oils consumed. This make, that the waste oils are one of the most abundant pollutants waste 24 million tonnes / year. In the U.S.A about 7.6 million tonnes / year of lubricant are consumed, in Japan 2.2, in the European Union 4.7 and in Spain about 0.5, being the global demand of about 40 million tonnes / year. Waste oil is being removed by pouring into land and waterways without combustion or by indiscriminate use their potential value and producing dangerous contamination.
Currently in Spain there are over 2,500 wastewater treatment plant, according to the Ministry of Environment, Rural and Marine, purged in 2010 more than 3,400 hm3 wastewater annually. The urban origin waters treated generated 1,467,000 tons of sludge in Spain of which 70% is used for agriculture, 15% is recycled for non-agricultural use and another 15% going to landfill which is a lot of kg of waste are buried.
To carry out the cleaning of oil spills as aquifers, ports or other places where water in the presence of a selective collection of oily waste require different types of absorbent, which attract oil within the pores are used, which for useful must be both oleophilic (oil attractants) and hydrophobic (water repellent). Once the sorbents have been used to remove oil, must be collected and properly cleaned for reuse or dispose because the contrasts lose effectiveness. Any oil which is extracted from an absorbent material also must be properly disposed or recycled. Current absorbers do not allow the recovery of the contaminant (oil, fats or hydrocarbon) and seeing the limitations to absorb hydrocarbons are necessary techniques capable of separating water contaminant.
Traditional treatments for water purification fail to solve acute contamination or pollutants caused by specific problem due to the difficulty to remove certain types of residue such as oils, fats and hydrocarbons , plus its toxicity its prohibited any spill of these materials in water as it can get seriously affect any ecosystem . The sludge is generated by these treatments as a by-product being an important source of organic matter and nutrients. A major problem to resolve is the increased generation and accumulation of sludge, about 1,200,000 tons / year (dry matter) in Spain, of which 8% end up in landfill.
In addition we find contamination from spills of petroleum hydrocarbons and their derivatives, as well as spills of fats and waste oils which are removed by pouring into land and waterways and indiscriminate burning not use their real potential value, producing dangerous contamination. Around 0.1 to 0.2 % of world oil production just dumping at sea , representing nearly 3 million tonnes / year end up contaminating water and causing damage to the marine ecosystem.
So to solve these existing problems, is expected to develop during the project pilot for the purification of water contaminated with oil, fats and oils with a capacity of 5,000 dm3/hora plant, using as filter media an absorbent material and biodegradation system to remove waste filtrate, up to 99 % to maintain compliance with European directives (91/271/EC and 200/60/EG).