How Does an Oil Water Separator Work?

Written by AOS Treatment Solutions on April 10, 2018
oil water separator wastewater

Oil and water don’t mix, right? Technically, yes, but things get a little foggier in an industrial wastewater treatment plant.

While oil will rise to the top if you pour it into a glass of water, removing oil from wastewater is a much more involved and technical process. Not only does it require special equipment like oil water separators, but it requires an assortment of chemical and biological filtration processes to produce clean water. Without these processes, it’s impossible to treat wastewater, or to ensure the filtration efforts are working the way they should.

Here’s a brief breakdown of how these oil water separators work, and the important role they play in wastewater treatment:

What is an Oil Water Separator?

An oil water separator is a special piece of equipment designed to separate suspended solids and oil from wastewater. Made up of a series of stacked plates, oil water separators work a bit like a sifter by passing wastewater through each plate and removing particles of oil.

In addition to streamlining the wastewater treatment process, oil water separators also help protect the environment by removing oils and other hazardous products from sewage.

Why is an Oil Water Separator Used in Wastewater Treatment?

While water and oil separate naturally in some settings, this process doesn’t work quite as smoothly with wastewater. Because wastewater is filled with a variety of contaminants, oil particles get stuck and don’t always separate naturally.

This is where oil water separators come in.

How Does an Oil Water Separator Work?

Here’s the outline of the oil water separation process:

These pieces of machinery utilize a series of filters. Wastewater is pushed through the filters to separate the largest pieces of solids from the water. From there, the wastewater moves through the oil water separator in the wastewater treatment plant.

The machines include a series of plates positioned on an incline. The plates are designed to separate water, sludge and oil into different areas. While the suspended solids and sludge move to the bottom, the plates work to draw suspended oil particles from the rest of the wastewater.

They do this by tumbling the wastewater over the surface of the plates. As the water moves, the oil particulates collect together and form larger bundles of particulate. These bundles are, in turn, more buoyant, and easier for to separate during screening in wastewater treatment.

Finally, the plates of the oil water separator increase the surface area that wastewater must move over. The angle of the plates forces oil to the surface and allows it to coalesce. In this fashion, the majority of oil sludge is removed before the wastewater goes through the rest of the industrial or municipal water treatment process.

The Important Role of Oil Water Separators

While the oil water separator is a simple piece of equipment, it serves a very important purpose. These separators are designed to protect the environment, remove even the finest particles of oil from wastewater, and create a cleaner and more treatment-ready byproduct. Oil water separators are an essential piece of any wastewater treatment process and ensure that water is ready to go on to finer filtration processes.

Let our experts at AOS Treatment Solutions help designs and implement your next municipal or industrial water treatment plan. Contact us today!

Posted Under: Wastewater Treatment Solutions