Oil water separators are essential components in wastewater treatment and management. Industrial plants and commercial settings generate a lot of oil-contaminated wastewater. The source is often machine cooling systems and other production processes. Treatment is necessary to ensure oily wastewater does not make it to the ecosystem after disposal, as the consequences are dire. For example, oil contamination can destroy the fauna and flora within large water bodies.
Oil water separators remove oil, grease and other hydroponic substances from water. They ensure that discharged water meets environmental regulations before disposal to the sewage system or environment. Here is a closer look at how waste oil separators work:
Oil-water separators follow the principle that liquids of different densities are immiscible. Furthermore, oil is naturally hydrophobic, repelling water molecules. As a result, oil separators allow oil and water to separate naturally, with oil floating on top while relatively clean water sits below. Either of the fluids is then drained to complete the separation process.
Designs and Options
There are primarily two types of oil-water separators: gravity and coalescing plate. The design is similar with three core chambers: forebay, separate section and afterbay.
Gravity separators are often called American Petroleum Institute (API) separators as they are designed in accordance with standards published by the institute. The first chamber in the design facilitates sedimentation by reducing turbulence and fluid disturbance. The second chamber traps oil as it rises in the water. Finally, the third chamber holds relatively oil-free water before discharge. Gravity separators are efficient for processing large quantities of wastewater.
Coalescing plate separators follow the same principles as gravity separators and have a similar three-chamber design. However, the separator has inclined parallel plates that increase the surface area for separation. As a result, the system removes oil while maintaining a small footprint.
Due to the density difference, hydrocyclone separators use centrifugal force to separate oil from water . The system is particularly effective at removing small oil droplets.
Oil-water separators have specific regular maintenance requirements that ensure optimal function. Maintenance procedures include removing accumulated oil and solids, cleaning coalescing plates and replacing separation media. Modern designs have sensors that send alerts when maintenance is due.
Oil-separators are designed to meet specific separation requirements. These specifications are provided by regulatory bodies that control waste management procedures. The requirements are legally binding; failure to comply can attract fines and other legal actions.
Oil-water separators are crucial in preventing the contamination of natural water bodies. They protect the environment from the effects of oil and grease pollution, ensuring clean water is discharged from industrial plants and sewage systems. Water treatment maintains an ecological balance and preserves aquatic ecosystems.
Oil-water separators only form one part of the wastewater treatment system. In most systems, large insoluble contaminants are removed before oil-water separation. The effluent from the separation then undergoes additional treatment processes such as biological or chemical treatment.
Oil-water separators are used in different scenarios. Industrial facilities have the most applications, ranging from manufacturing to food processing and automotive industries. Commercial establishments like restaurants use small-scale oil-water separators to manage kitchen wastewater. Gas stations also use separators to remove oil and fuel residues from rainwater that collects in fuelling areas. Marine and shipping plants also treat runoff water to prevent oil contaminants from entering the marine environment. Oil-water separation is also part of urban stormwater management, as oil and grease from roadways and parking lots contaminate the stormwater drains.
Oil-water separators contribute to water conservation and have numerous applications. Nonetheless, their use and maintenance are best handled by professionals or guided by their input.