Oil/Water Separators for Compressed Air Systems

Do you want an oil-water separator on your compressed air system? The reply might be sure. An exterior oil-water separator is important for correct upkeep of your compressed air system and compliance with environmental rules for disposal of compressed air condensate.  

What Is an Oil/Water Separator? 

An oil-water separator (typically known as a condensate separator) is strictly what it seems like: a tool that separates oils and lubricants from liquid water. The oil-water separator collects condensate out of your air compressor, tank, filters, and dryer, and removes the oil from the water previous to placing it down the drain. It additionally eliminates the necessity to have the oily condensate hauled away. 

Why Do I Want an Oil/Water Separator for My Compressed Air System? 

When air is compressed, it produces condensate as a byproduct. That’s as a result of pressurized air turns into saturated when it’s compressed. For instance, to realize 100 PSI, the air is compressed 7.89 instances atmospheric strain. As compressed air cools, the cooler air can not maintain the moisture and falls out of the air as condensates. This condensate consists of each liquid water (from the moisture within the consumption air) and oil from throughout the compressor. 

The oil comes from the lubricants that defend your air compressor because it runs. The warmth generated by air compression causes a small quantity of oil to vaporize every time the compressor is used. This oil vapor mixes with water vapor throughout compression after which falls out of the air together with water condensate because it cools. Due to this contamination, condensate from compressed air methods can not merely be dumped down a drain or into the setting (e.g., out the wall and onto the bottom). 

Air Compressor Condensate Disposal Rules

The EPA requires condensate to be both collected for correct disposal or handled to take away oil and different contaminants previous to disposal of the water. Air compressor condensate is ruled underneath the 1970 Clear Water Act, which goals to maintain dangerous contaminants out of groundwater, floor water, and ingesting water provides. Throughout the nation, there are additionally quite a lot of state and native statutes regulating the therapy and disposal of wastewater, together with air compressor condensate. Learn extra: 

These rules set requirements for allowable concentrations of varied contaminants in wastewater. The federal customary requires that wastewater that’s drained right into a municipal system accommodates lower than 40 PPM (elements per million) of oil. Water with larger ranges of contaminants should be handled or collected and saved in such a means that it’s going to not leach into the setting or into the municipal water provide. Native rules could also be much more stringent; your native waste therapy or water authority could have info particular to your space. 

Aire Tip: Liquid condensate from a compressed air system usually accommodates round 300 PPM of oil to water, 7.5x larger than the allowable concentrations underneath Federal legislation. 

Air Compressor Condensate Disposal Choices 

How do you get rid of compressed air condensate? Environmental rules imply that condensate from a compressed air system can not merely be discharged right into a sanitary drain, dumped someplace on the plant grounds, or poured into a close-by storm drain or waterway. Producers with compressed air methods have two choices in relation to disposing of oily wastewater. 

  • Assortment and storage: Condensate from the air compressor and different system parts might be collected from the drain valves into 55-gallon drums or tanks. The water is then hauled away to an authorized storage facility. This feature tends to be each costly and inconvenient, involving prices for assortment, storage containers, transportation, and storage.  
  • Filtration and therapy: A greater choice is to filter and deal with the wastewater to take away oily contaminants and particulates. After the condensate is handled, the filtered water can merely be discharged down the drain into the sewage system. Over the long term, an air compressor oil-water separator will greater than pay for itself in decreased wastewater disposal prices. 

Aire Tip: An air compressor oil-water separator may help you cut back wastewater disposal prices and adjust to environmental rules.

How Does an Oil/Water Separator Work?

The oil-water separator is linked to a set manifold put in by a contractor or your in-house workers to supply a single connection level to the condensate separator. Condensate sources together with the aftercooler on the compressor, the air dryer, any air receiver tank, filters, and every other condensate traps all through the system. All this untreated liquid is collected and drained into the separator machine.

Oil/Water Separation Strategies

There are a number of methods you can separate oil and water. All of them contain making the most of the completely different chemical and bodily properties of oil and water. A few of these embody: 

  • Gravity separation: The only technique entails merely letting the liquids settle naturally. Oils are lighter than water and can gravitate to the highest of the column, the place they are often skimmed off. (You’ll observe comparable separation should you shake vegetable oil and water collectively after which let it sit for some time.) Nevertheless, a few of the vaporized oil will grow to be emulsified within the water throughout compression and can’t be separated by gravity alone. For that reason, gravity separation is just not thought-about adequate to satisfy the PPM necessities for the disposal of compressed air condensate. 
  • Chemical absorption: This technique makes use of a chemical media that pulls and bonds with oil and repels water. Oils react chemically with the media, trapping them throughout the filter. 
  • Non-chemical absorption: In non-chemical absorption, the oil is pulled into and held by the media with out a chemical bonding course of. The fabric should be oleophilic (oil-attracting) and hydrophobic (water-repelling), in order that oil is retained by the media and water passes via. Polypropylene is an instance of an oil-absorbent, water-repelling materials. 
  • Adsorption: Adsorption is much like absorption, however as a substitute of being drawn into the core of the media, oil is held on the floor. Oil is interested in the floor of the adsorbent materials electrostatically, whereas water is repelled. Adsorbent supplies might have many, many tiny pores in them to maximise the accessible surfaces the place oil can adsorb.

Air Compressor Oil/Water Separators

Most air compressor oil-water separators work utilizing a mixture of absorption and adsorption. These methods usually have a number of phases of filtration. Right here’s the way it works: 

  • Condensate from drain valves enters the cyclonic depressurization chamber, together with a certain quantity of waste compressed air that’s launched when the drain valves open and shut. Air is allowed to depressurize on this chamber after which vented again to the environment so it doesn’t intervene with the filtration course of.  
  • Liquids drain down into an oil filter cartridge product of polypropylene fibers, an oil-absorbent materials. Many of the oil is collected and stabilized in polypropylene fibers. Absorbing the majority of the oil right here maximizes the lifetime of the activated carbon cartridge. 
  • Activated carbon is the ultimate stage of filtration. Activated carbon is an oil-adsorbent materials, containing a lot of extraordinarily small pores that the liquid is filtered via. As liquid drains via the micro-pores, oil is interested in and held by the pore partitions, whereas water passes via. Activated charcoal is the one filter materials that may cut back oily contaminants right down to Federally mandated limits, usually decreasing concentrations to ~10 PPM. 
  • The remaining water flows out of a drain on the backside, the place it may be safely discharged right into a sanitary drain. 

Aire Tip: Zero-Loss Drain Valves will reduce the lack of compressed air from drains and are beneficial for optimum efficiency of the oil-water separator.
Oil Water Separator Stages

Oil/Water Separator Set up and Upkeep

The air compressor oil-water separator is a reasonably easy machine, however it does require correct set up and common upkeep. Right here are some things you must know. 

Putting in the Oil/Water Separator for Your Compressed Air System

The oil/water separator is usually put in within the compressor room. You’ll want to find the oil-water separator in an space that’s handy to succeed in for filter cartridge adjustments. 

The oil/water separator is fed by a manifold that collects condensate piped from every air compressor, dryer, filter, and tank in your compressed air system. Each part that produces condensate should have a condensate drain and be linked to the oil-water separator. 

Sizing the Oil/Water Separator for Your Compressed Air System

The oil/water separator should be correctly sized on your compressed air system. They’re usually sized based on the utmost airflow (CFM) of your system. The upper the CFM of your air compressor, the extra condensate might be created, requiring extra filtration. The PneuTech CSO Series of Oil-Water Separators has fashions for 40, 80, 150, 300, 725, and 1250 CFM methods.

 Additionally it is essential to know that the utmost oil absorption, condensate stream, and free air supply (FAD) for the oil/water separator will range relying on the setting during which the filtration system is working. Normally, the filters can maintain extra oil in colder environments and may deal with a better condensate stream charge in hotter environments. If the filtration system might be working in a really cool (<60°F) or heat (>100°F) setting, this will affect system sizing or the frequency of filter adjustments.  (It must be famous that the majority scores are based mostly on a single shift. So your operation runs 24/7, chances are you’ll want to alter the weather extra steadily.)

Sustaining the Oil/Water Separator for Your Compressed Air System 

Sustaining the oil/water separator is straightforward. There are three primary ranges of upkeep:

  • Weekly to month-to-month: Carry out a pattern take a look at of the water popping out of the separator to verify for extra oil. This may be finished by amassing liquids popping out of the filtration system in a transparent jar. The liquid within the jar is in comparison with a foggy piece of glass supplied with the separator. When the water is foggier than the glass, that signifies that the filter cartridge is absolutely loaded and there may be extra oil within the discharge water. When this occurs, it’s time to alter the filter cartridge. 
  • Month-to-month to quarterly: Periodically, open up separation tanks and suck off any extra oil that has gathered on the highest with an oil change suction machine used within the automotive trade. When oil is separated from water, typically it would develop a jelly-like substance that may construct up exterior of the filter media. This sludge must be cleaned up presently as effectively.  
  • Quarterly to yearly: Substitute the filter cartridges at the least yearly or extra usually (quarterly or semi-annually), relying in your utilization patterns and the scale of your filtration system. When the filter cartridge is absolutely saturated, it could actually merely be pulled out of the chamber and changed with a brand new one. All the oil condensate stays safely stabilized within the polypropylene and activated carbon cartridges. The previous cartridge must be sealed in a plastic cowl and disposed of based on native directives and legal guidelines.

The frequency of filter adjustments will rely upon the scale and utilization patterns on your compressed air system in addition to the setting. The entire quantity of condensate produced by your compressed air system is tied to the temperature and humidity of the incoming ambient air; if you’re working in a heat, humid setting, your system will produce extra condensate than if you’re working in a cooler, drier setting. As we defined above, the oil absorption/adsorption capability of your filter cartridge can be impacted by temperature. The hotter it’s, the much less oil the filter will be capable to maintain. In case your local weather is variable, make sure you verify the filter extra steadily in hotter months. 

Deciding on an Oil/Water Separator for Your Compressed Air System

An oil/water separator is an effective funding on your compressed air system. Not solely is it a extra environmentally pleasant resolution for dealing with compressed air condensate, however it could actually additionally provide help to lower your expenses on wastewater administration. Draining handled water into your common sanitary drains is far simpler and cheaper than amassing, transporting, and storing gallons of contaminated water. 

 In case you’re undecided which oil/water separator is best for you, we may help. Our system designers may help you select the proper type and dimension it correctly on your compressed air system and setting. 

Need assistance choosing an oil/water separator? Name us and let one in every of our compressed air specialists reply all of your questions.

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