A floating oil skimmer is a machine used to remove oil floating on the surface of the water. The floating oil adheres to skimming media, such as a tube, mop, belt, rope, or disk. The media then goes back to the machine to be wiped clean. Depending on the specific type, floating oil skimmers are used in a variety of applications, including oil spill response, treatment systems in oily water, oil removal from machine tools, coolant and aqueous parts washers, and collecting fats oils, and greases in the food manufacturing industry.
There is quite a handful of different types of floating oil skimmers in the market. Which one you choose depends on several factors, such as the recovery rate required, the thickness of the oil on the liquid, and the context of flowing water or still water. In the remainder of this article, we’ll address the basics of oil skimming as well as the different types of oil skimmers that are available today.
Oil skimmers are often used in industrial applications where oil, grease, and fats are removed prior to any further treatment for environmental discharge compliance. The removal will not only ensure the purity of water but also reduce the smell and unsightly surface scum. The skimmers are applied before a subsequent oily water treatment in order to improve discharge wastewater quality.
The mechanism of oil skimmers lies in specific gravity, surface tension, and a moving medium for oil removal from the water surface. Floating oil and grease cling to the skimming media while leaving water mostly intact, as the media has very little affinity for water. This allows skimming media of different shapes to effectively collect the oil and grease floating on the water, followed by the removal of oily material from the media with wiper blades or pinch rollers.
Oil skimming is an essential and dependable process to make sure that the desired level of water purity can be achieved. Aside from oil and grease, floating oil skimmers can also be used to remove other hydrocarbons from water and coolants. Oil skimming is also one of the most cost-effective means before resorting to more complicated and costly treatments for oil removal, such as coalescers, membrane filters, and chemical processes. A powerful heater is typically used to complement the oil to keep grease fluid for discharge.
Floating oil skimmers are categorized into oleophilic and non-oleophilic skimmers, each of which can be further subdivided into several different types based on the distinct medium. The more common types are outlined below:
● Drum Skimmers: Drum skimmers are oleophilic. Oil and grease are collected as the drum rotates in the water. They are used in a wide range of applications, and often retrofitted with steam coils to improve the viscosity.
Weir Skimmers: Weir skimmers are designed to remove oil from the surface layer of water. The oil and water mixture is then pumped away from the hopper. These skimmers are affordable and can be deployed in all kinds of places.
● Self-Launch Skimmers: These are disc-type skimmers that are specifically designed to be deployed in open water. The disc picks up the oil from the water surface with high efficiency and a high recovery rate. They are often used for offshore spills.
● Suction Skimmers: Suction skimmers resemble a vacuum cleaner. The floating oil on the surface of the water is picked up by a pump attached to the skimmer. These skimmers particularly excel at collecting oil from extremely shallow water.
As mentioned earlier, oil skimmers do not only remove oil from the water but also other types of liquids like coolants. In machine shops, oil skimmers are often used to remove the oil from a machine coolant tank for aesthetic purposes and reduce the amount of smoke from cutting operations. Removing the oil from the coolants will also reduce disposal costs. In fact, the removed oil is sometimes recycled or sold elsewhere for extra income. When selecting an oil skimmer for oil removal of coolant, you need to take several factors, such as temperature, pH level, the amount of oil to be skimmed, quality and cost, into consideration.
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