South African Journal of Industrial Engineering
versión On-line ISSN 1012-277X
MEERHOLZ, A. y BRENT, A.C.. Assessing the sustainability of wastewater treatment technologies in the petrochemical industry. S. Afr. J. Ind. Eng. [online]. 2013, vol.24, n.2, pp. 1-11. ISSN 1012-277X.
Selecting the most suitable industrial wastewater treatment technology is not only about providing the best technical solution at the lowest cost: it is also about sustainability (including social and environmental acceptance) and institutional feasibility. This paper demonstrates and evaluates a method that may be used for wastewater treatment technology assessment and selection in an industrial context, with a specific focus on biological wastewater treatment in a petrochemical company. The technology assessment objectives are formulated as complexity, generality, approach, lead-time and resources, focus, and data used. These objectives are used as criteria for the development of a technology assessment method: a multi-criteria decision analysis technique to compare and rank the wastewater treatment technology alternatives against the identified technical, socio-economic, and environmental objectives. Using a petrochemical operation in South Africa as a case study, the paper provides a systematic analysis of eight wastewater treatment alternatives to test the proposed technology assessment method, and thus determine its usefulness as a technology assessment technique. The investigation suggests that the method managed to achieve most of the technology assessment objectives of the organisation. Accordingly, suggestions for further development of the technology assessment technique are made.