Investigations were carried out for purification of oily wastewater by a combined of ultrafiltration/reverse osmosis (UF/RO) processes. Laboratory-scale UF using polysulfone (PS) and polyacrylonitrile (PAN) membranes were employed with typical oily wastewater collected from API unit of Tehran refinery. The PAN membrane showed higher rejection, more permeation flux and less fouling resistance than the PS membrane. Both membranes produced permeate with oil and grease contents generally less than 5 ppm. Rejection of chemical oxygen demand (COD) and biological oxygen demand (BOD5) were found to be 65% for UF treatment. In this work, Hermia's models were used to investigate the fouling mechanism involved in UF of the oily wastewater. The results showed that the best fit to experimental data corresponds to the cake layer formation model followed by the intermediate blocking model for both the UF membranes. For further treatment of the UF permeates, RO was applied using a thin film composite polyamide membrane. The rejection of COD, BOD5 and total dissolved solid (TDS) after UF/RO treatment increased up to 98%, 98% and 95%, respectively. The results showed that the final permeate has very high quality and even better than that is currently introduced to the cooling towers in Tehran refinery.

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