Pharmaceutical, natural gas processors, other processing plants, usually generate wastewater that contains harmful contaminants. An oil and water separator works by removing grease suspended in the affluent.
The oil and water separator uses the principle of gravity to break up the compounds. In short, oil is less dense than water, which allows it to float. The grease that remains at the top is skimmed off then recycled.
Common Applications of Oil and Water Separator Processes
There are different types of systems you can use, depending on your industry or application. You can find oil-water separators in:
- Electrical Substations: Power substations are surrounded by water that traps the leaking oil the station uses for cooling. The separator equipment can capture large amounts of grease, which may then be recycled.
- Bilge Water on Ships: Some water from the ship drains of the deck, while the rest goes to the bilge. The water may contain urine, oil, mud, and solvents. Using an oil and water separator helps to ensure compliance with the requirements of the MARPOL Convention and other environmental regulations.
Factors that Impact Oil Water Separator Efficiency
You can ensure that your water treatment system is working properly through effective design and having a comprehensive maintenance routine. Some of the factors that can have an impact on the efficacy of the separator include:
The Initial Design Process
Oil and water separator systems are often an afterthought in many organizations. In the rush to comply with regulations that require cleaning of stormwater and runoff, the plant acquires water treatment products and equipment. In the process, managers may overlook the importance of consulting professionals and engineers to ensure the process runs efficiently.
The design of a standalone wastewater treatment system should factor the maximum rates as well as the unexpected rise in stormwater runoff. The configuration of the system should accommodate tubes, plates, and other important parts. If you don’t tailor the setup according to your needs, chances are that you will eventually compromise the capacity of the system to eliminate grease and sediments.
Even though they remove stubborn grime, emulsifiers can compromise the integrity of the separation process. The wastewater may contain soaps and detergents that come from cleaning industrial equipment. It may also be from special agents used in drainage systems to neutralize contaminants.
Unfortunately, certain quantities of emulsifiers will mix with the wastewater and make it difficult to separate oil from it. In such instances, the oily compounds in the liquid will be indiscernible, and that means they’ll go through water treatment systems.
If your water oil separator system is to remain compliant, you need to service it regularly. Your in-house personnel can perform maintenance tasks by following the equipment’s manual. Organizations that use separator systems should have procedures and checklist to ensure you don’t overlook some tasks.
Some of the common issues with oil and water separator systems may include:
A buildup of sludge on the separator can compromise the flow of water. Excessive sludge will introduce too many contaminant particles into the system. The heavy particles attach to the grease and force it to sink. That means the separator cannot eliminate the oil efficiently and could stop working altogether if the buildup continues unchecked.
A full oil drum can limit the functionality of the skimmer, which will in-turn allow contaminants to escape through the effluent water.
Without regular maintenance, the float may stop functioning. Some of the things that can compromise its function are debris, and excess sludge, that often submerges the float.
Oil and water separator systems need regular maintenance to ensure it functions effectively. Sludge levels, pipe connections, the drum, and other parts of the equipment, should be checked regularly. Failing to comply with regulations can be costly for the organization. Managers can prepare operational procedures and documentation to ensure no critical maintenance task is overlooked. A clear process allows you to pinpoint issues and address them on time.