Development of a pilot unit for the valorization of PRS (Petroleum Refinery Sludges) to new added value raw materials

The overall objective of this proposal is the “smart” exploitation of Petroleum Refinery Sludges (PRS), produced by the Refinery of MOTOR OIL (HELLAS) – CORINTH REFINERIES S.A., the largest private industrial complex in the country with a processing capacity of 185,000 barrels of crude oil per stream day (BSD). PRS are wastes originating from crude oil processing into fuel and relative nonfuel products. After sludge pretreatment by dewatering and/or deoiling (for reduction of volume and residual hydrocarbon content), due to their hydrocarbons and heavy metals content, these sludges are classified as hazardous waste and their treatment is a pre-requisition before their final disposal. The main idea of the LIFE DIANA proposal is the use of these wastes for the development of a Valorised Sludge Mixture (VSM) through their proper integration with cost efficient industrial minerals available in Greece and other countries, aiming to the PRS transformation into higher value commercial products. Due to the unique properties of the selected industrial minerals, their integration with PRS will result in PRS stabilisation, and therefore the VSM will present minimum environmental risk. The selected industrial minerals will be properly processed and modified, in order to increase their effectiveness to the specific PRS, maximizing thus the desired stabilisation level. Furthermore, VSM is a suitable raw material for the construction and restoration of landfill sites and abandoned inactive quarries. The aim is the development of a stable quality Engineered Soil, through mixing of VSM with suitable soil amendments, with engineered properties for cost effective use in various development stages of landfill construction and restoration. Due to its tailored properties, the Engineered Soil will be able to substitute much larger quantities of the unstable quality materials currently used in landfills for the creation of the various layers. In conclusion, the overall target of the proposal is to develop the required customised technologies and materials for the valorisation of PRS and the synthesis of the Engineered Soil, to demonstrate their applicability at pilot scale and to assess the performance of both VSM and engineered soil according to the relevant European standards and legislation.

01.07.2017 - 31.12.2021


The main objectives of the proposal are analysed at the following scientific objectives: Identification and development of the optimum qualities of industrial minerals and technological solutions for the production of VSM with minimum environmental risks and meeting the specifications set by the relevant EU legislation. Selection of the optimum mixing solutions (compost, soil, VSM) for the production of an engineered soil suitable to be used on landfills construction and restoration or quarry rehabilitation. Design, construction, testing and evaluation of a low cost pilot scale plant with minimum CO2 emissions for producing VSM with appropriate properties to be used for the synthesis of the engineered soil. For the achievement of these objectives an analytical work programme has been developed, organised in 4 phases : preparatory (phase A), implementation (phase B), impact monitoring (phase C), public awareness and results dissemination (phase D). In phase A, the landfill site construction or inactive quarry requirements will be determined, the relevant EU legislation will be reviewed and the pilot scale plant will be designed and constructed. Phase B covers all the characterisation and experimental work to be performed at lab and pilot scale. Phase C includes the monitoring and evaluation activities of the pilot plant and the developed materials performance (technical/environmental, economic through LCA/LCC analysis). In phase D, activities have been grouped as dissemination to: the general public, identified target groups across the EU, the scientific community; networking with other projects; after LIFE plan.

The successful completion of the proposed project will have very positive effect regarding sustainable development in Greece, as it will significantly contribute to the: Drastic reduction of the waste volumes produced by the Greek Petrochemicals industry. In the specific plant more than 3.500 t of PRS per year will be transformed into valuable products, instead of being disposed; Permanent confrontation of the environmental impact associated with the disposal of Petroleum refinery sludges; Development of new processes and technologies, by using naturally occurring industrial minerals, that lead to the elimination of petroleum refinery sludges environmental impact and can be disseminated to and adopted by other similar chemical industries; Development of a new business model to cover the specialised needs for soil qualities and quantities used in landfills construction and restoration that are currently in shortage due to limited construction activities in the country. Moreover, the uniformity and controllability of the soil qualities produced in the project cannot be matched by the construction waste material, characterised by significant quality fluctuations, depending on the origin of the construction waste; Development of new materials that will increase the sales revenues and the profitability of the interested companies by transforming toxic wastes into commercial products of higher value-tocustomer and creating additional sustainable business activity in the nearby area. It is estimated that more than 10.000 t per year of engineered soil will become available to the nearby landfill companies and for quarry rehabilitation purposes.

TOTAL BUDGET: 2.051.585ELIGIBLE BUDGET: 1.662.085EU CONTRIBUTION: 983.955 (59,2% of eligible)



Co-funded by the European Commission
under the LIFE "Environment and Resource Efficiency" Programme