Water separators are devices that are used to separate large amounts of solids from oil refineries, natural gas industries and petrochemical plants. The separators are designed in a manner that complies with the regulations put in place by the American Petroleum Institute. There are many types of water and oil separators, unfortunately, not all of them are as effective as they should be. You need to follow the following guidelines when looking for quality separators.
There are many factors that determine how effective separator will be. These include:
- The mean oil droplet size. When the size is less than 150 micron, most separators tend to have a hard time making the separation.
- When the density of the oil in the mixture is more than 925kilos per meter squared.
- When the temperature of the water is less than 5 degrees Celsius.
- The temperature allowance
The ideal separator should have a wide range of temperatures that it operates over. This is because the viscosity of the liquids that are being separated will vary with the varying temperatures. When you get a separator that operates over a wide range of temperatures, they will work in the summer and also the winter. The specific gravities of the liquids to be separated can be estimated even before the design of the separator. The viscosity of water can also be calculated. The problem comes when it comes to the determination of the drop size as it is not a straightforward process. The volume of oil is normally equal in size to the cube of a similar diameter. Even the tiny droplets contain small quantities of oil. Ideally, oil is not supposed to be present in amounts that are large enough to cause sheens over the surface of the water.
- The degree of emulsification of the oil
While it is quite difficult to address the degree to which the oil has been emulsified, there are steps that can be taken to make sure that large emulsions do not occur. In addition to this, it is possible to try and break up emulsions that could have already formed using the right separator. When the separators are connected to attachments such as centrifugal pumps, they tend to create their own emulsions, which interfere with the process. This equipment should be replaced with tools that are better suited to use with oil water separators. The other problem source here will be detergents. According to Freytech Inc., when the wrong detergents are used, especially the regular ones, they encourage the formation of emulsions. On the other hand, when quick-break detergents are used, they prevent emulsification.
- Influent conditions
The performance of a separator will also greatly depend on influent conditions. This is because the conditions that lead to small drop sizes in the influent to the separator will lead to the need for a larger separator to compensate for the extra time needed for the smaller drops to come together. The factors that lead to small droplets include:
- Pumps, and most especially centrifugal pumps
- Globe valves
- Other restrictions to the flow such as elbows and obstructions in the pumps.
- Piping that is oriented vertically.
For the ideal separation, the following conditions are supposed to be met. To start with, the liquid should have gravity flow as opposed to being pumped. The second factor is that the inlet piping should be sized to accommodate minimum drop in pressure. The inlet piping should also be as smooth as possible because roughness causes turbulence. Ideally, smooth PVC is better for the job as compared to rough PVC.
There are pumps that come with accessories such as chemicals that are supposed to dissolve emulsifications. When using these types, make sure that they are applied in the right amounts to avoid the possibility of worsening the problem.
These are the three qualities that you should look for in water separators. It is possible to get a separator that will work to give you the purest form of the separated liquid without much effort. What you need to do is understand how the entire process works. In case you do not get it, ask for the help of experts to shop and also to install the systems.