Real Time Quantification of Phenolic Compounds in Oil and Gas Wells Produced Wastewater Using a QCM Sensor

Tuesday, 30 May 2017
Grand Ballroom (Hilton New Orleans Riverside)
M. L. L. Barrera, J. A. Pedraza Sr., and F. A. Ríos (Universidad Industrial de Santander)
Phenols (phenol, m-cresol, o-cresol and p-cresol) are contaminant compounds and due to its toxicity and persistence in the environment are listed in the Environmental Protection Agency as dangerous substances [1]; its presence in the environment is widely associated with wastewater effluents as is the produced water generated by oil and gas production.

One of the systems that has been gaining importance to measure phenols in real time is the Quartz Crystal Microbalance (QCM). This technique comprises a thin quartz crystal sandwiched between two metal electrodes and senses the changes in frequency that suffers the quartz crystal when a certain amount of mass is deposited on its surface [3].

In order to improve the sensibility of compounds to measurement using a QCM have been used coatings on quartz crystal electrode surface, for example for phenols determination polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) is used. The main objective of this research is to determine in real time and in continuous flow the concentration of phenolic compounds in produced water using the technique QCM with PMMA as coating on quartz crystal electrode surface.

This work is conducted in three stages mainly: 1. Determination of a suitable layer of PMMA to use as coating, 2. Evaluation of the effect of the concentration of phenols, pH and flow rate in the measurements by QCM, 3. Comparison of sensitivity and time response obtained in the technique QCM with standard method by colorimetry.

Results have shown that the PMMA films are more uniform when is used dichloroethane as solvent instead of chloroform and the stability and sensitivity in the measurements improve due to the vapor pressure of solvent that allows more dispersion of the polymer during spin coating, which is consistent with other authors [2]. Increase in the concentration of phenolic compounds, the flow rate and the pH increases the changes in frequency of the quartz crystal.


Keywords: Quartz crystal microbalance, PMMA, phenols, produced water, real time.


  1. Mirmosheni, A., Oladegaragoze, A. Application of the quartz crystal microbalance for determination of phenol in solution. 2003. Sensors and Actuators, B: Chemical, Vol.98 (1), p. 28-36.
  2. Mohajerani, E. Morphological and thickness analysis for PMMA spin coated films. 2007. Journal of optoelectronics and advanced materials, Vol. 9 (12), p. 3901-3906.
  3. Reddy, S. Detection of phenol in aqueous solution using an AT-cut quartz thickness shear mode sensor. 2000. Materials Science and Engineering C, Vol. 12 (1), p. 23-28.