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Oily Water Separator Tutorial

Supplier: Ultraspin

Ultraspin has put together a number of tutorials to provide some basic information about designing and selecting oily water treatment systems.

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Learning Centre

Ultraspin has put together a number of tutorials to provide some basic information about designing and selecting oily water treatment systems. The purpose of these tutorials is to:

  • Learn some basics about the science of oily water
  • To help customers better specify oily water treatment systems when purchasing
  • To help customers learn how to independently assess equipment vendor performance claims

Lets get started! To begin to understand the basics of oily water separation it is important to first consider the factors that effect the performance of oily water separators. For all mechanical separators, including the Ultraspin unit, the separation performance can be effected by:

  • Design of Separator
  • Fluid Properties
  • Method of Operation

Design of the separator

There are many different types of oily water separator on the market. Each type has its own unique design factors that determine how well it will work. It is beyond the scope of this tutorial to list and explain all these factors but some general help is listed.

Please note: Oil skimmers, rope and belt skimmers and similar are not considered as they do NOT treat the water but merely remove some of the floating oil.

Coalescing Plate Packs

Also know as, Tilted Plate Interceptors (TPI), Corrugated plate packs (CPP and CPS), Vertical gravity separators (VGS) and similar.

Some important design factors include:

  • Wetted Plate area: Low values cost less but don't work as well.
  • Mean Plate spacing: Closely packed plates, say less than 10 mm work better but are prone to blockages.
  • Oil skimmer type
  • Shape of plates. Complex shapes may be very difficult to clean.
  • Plate material. Some materials are low cost but will warp and degrade in the sun or when exposed to hydrocarbons.

Ultraspin Separators

Ultraspin engineers were the designers of the world’s first commercially successful oil removal hydrocyclones.

One of the keys to our successful designs is the use of optimum geometric ratios, such as separator length, diameter, orifice sizes and taper angles to achieve maximum separation. By comparison with conventional solids removal hydrocyclones, our designs are very long and generate high centrifugal separation forces.

Some important design factors include:

  • Hydrocyclone nominal size: Larger hydrocyclones are lower cost but don't work as well.
  • Reject orifice size.
  • Hydrocyclone geometry.
  • Separator Swirl Number: Higher swirls can increase efficiency but may emulsify the oil.

Gravity Settling Tanks

Simply allowing oil to float to a surface via gravity is a simple way to remove easily separable oil droplets, say bigger than 150 micron.

Examples of this technology include API separators, triple Interceptors, above ground tanks or collection pits.

Some important design factors include:

  • Projected plan area of settling tank.
  • Inlet design.
  • Exit design.
  • Aspect ratio.
  • Oil removal / skimmer design.

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