How Oil Water Separators Keep Wastewater Clean

Installation of an underground oil water separator.

Installation of an underground oil water separator.

Oil water separators are used in a variety of industrial applications to remove oil, grease, light petroleum products, and oily coated solids from wastewater before it is discharged into municipal sewer systems. This keeps these substances from causing environmental damage and also lessens the burden on wastewater treatment plants. On-site wastewater treatment is also increasingly required due to government regulations, which underscores the necessity of oil water separators. Common industrial applications for oil water separators include water treatment at airports, power plants, municipalities, and specifically fueling facilities, repair and maintenance shops, and wash areas at these facilities, where oil and water typically drain together into the sewer.

Oil water separators are installed in between the surface drain and the main sewer line. For this example, we’ll be referring to Highland Tank’s patented oil/water separator. Wastewater enters the tank from a drain. The water’s velocity is immediately slowed by a diffusion baffle. Water then proceeds through several filters in the tank. Large globs of oil immediately rise to the surface of the tank, being lighter than water. Oil also accumulates on the underside of a plate pack filter, which is designed with ridges to hold the oil. Solids also are caught on the plate pack, which is angled to redirect them to the bottom of the tank. Small oil particles up to 10 microns in size are caught by a final filter, while the rest of the oil congeals and rises to the top of the tank. A sensor in the tank alerts the operator when the oil level in the tank becomes too great, at which time the operator can pump the oil out. Treated wastewater leaves the tank with not more than 10 ppm free oil.

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Aboveground oil water separator.

Aboveground oil water separator.




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We strive for complete customer satisfaction, and with our 20 years of experience, we think you’ll notice the difference you get with us. Let Tanks Direct be your first choice for all of your tank and storage system needs.


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