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1.

0 Introduction

Oil/water separators are devices commonly used on Air Force installations as a method to
separate oils from a variety of wastewater discharges. They are typically installed in industrial
and maintenance areas and receive oily wastewater generated during processes such as aircraft
and vehicle maintenance and washing. The effluent from oil/water separators is typically
discharged to either a sanitary sewer system or a storm sewer. Discharges of domestic and
industrial wastewater are regulated under the Clean Water Act (CWA). Properly designed,
installed, and operated, oil/water separators provide a treatment system for handling oily
wastewater that prevents the entry of unacceptable levels of contamination to a storm sewer or
sanitary sewer system. However, oil/water separators are generally not designed to separate
solids or high concentrations of oil from water, such as might occur, for example, when a large
quantity of oil or sludge is spilled or poured into a wash bay drain. Thus, it is important for all
personnel who discharge wastewater into an oil/water separator to understand how they function,
including their limitations, in order to prevent them from becoming sources of environmental
pollution.

Oil/water separators (O/WSs) are "in-line" devices used to remove oils and greases (and
sometimes solids) from industrial waste streams and storm water discharges. O/WSs operate by
employing various physical or chemical separation methods, including gravity separation, filters,
coagulation/flocculation, and flotation. However, the use of any separation process depends on
the properties of the oil in the oil/water mixture. The type of O/WS most frequently used by the
Air Force is the gravity separation system. The performance of gravity separation systems is a
function of the relatively low water solubility of petroleum products in water and their different
specific gravities. (NOTE: The specific gravity of a petroleum product is defined as its density
divided by the density of water. Since the density of petroleum products is less than that of water,
they will float.) Solids, if present in the waste stream, will generally collect at the bottom of the
O/WS holding tank and can be periodically removed when the tank is drained for maintenance.

A drain connected to an oil/water separator may be perceived as a convenient place to dispose of


any type of liquid waste or sludge. This erroneous assumption can result in illegal discharges of
hazardous substances to installation sewer systems (which eventually discharge to surface
waters) or wastewater treatment plants. The illustration in Figure 1 shows, in simplified form, the
operation of a typical gravity O/WS system.

Figure 1: Conceptual Diagram of a Simple Gravity Oil/Water Separator.

2.0 Methodology
General Start-up Procedures

The following chemical


were prepared:-20 L of
water (heavy phase) and
edible oil (light phase)

Ensure that all valves are


closed (screwed in). Vessel
B1 was feed filled with
water and feed vessel B2
with oil.

Valves V1 and V2 was


opened. Feed pumps P1
and P2 was switched on
and adjusted the settings
to give a flow rate of
10L/hr each.

The flow of mixed liquids


into the settling chamber
to form two layers was
observed. The interface
level was watched and
adjusted as necessary
using valve LV1.

Both the water (heavy


phase) and oil (light phase)
was allowed to enter the
mixing chamber. Ensure
that both phases are well
mixed.

The mixer M1 was swithed


on and set the speed to
500 rpm.

Both liquid was allowed to


overflow into their
respective collection
vessles B3 and B4. Vessel
B3 will contain the
separated water (heavy
phase) while vessel B4 will
contain the separated oil
(light phase) .

The pumps was stoped.


Valves V1 and V2 was
closed.

General Shut-Down Procedures

The plant is now ready for


experiment

Both pumps P1 and P2 was switched off.

The mixer M1 was switched off.

Valves V1 and V2 was closed.


Valves V9 and V10 was opened to drain al
liquid from the mixer settler.
Valves V15 and V16 was opened to drain
all liquid from the receiving vessels B3
abd B4.

3.0 Results

Table 3.1: Preparation of Density against Composition Plot

Volume of Oil (mL)

Volume of Water

Oil Composition

Density (g / cm3)

0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100

(mL)
100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0

(wt %)
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100

0.9958
0.9925
0.9838
0.9640
0.9627
0.9456
0.9332
0.9238
0.9220
0.9173
0.9069

Density vs Composition
1
0.98
0.96
0.94
0.92
0.9
0.88
0.86

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

100

Figure 3.1: Graph of Density (g / cm3) against Oil-Water Composition (wt %)

Table 3.2: Composition against flow rate

Oil Flow
rate (L /
hr)
10
20
30
40

Water

Total

Flow Rate Flow Rate


(L / hr)
10
20
30
40

(L / hr)
20
40
60
80

Separated Water
Density
Oil

Separated Oil
Density
Water

(g / cm3)

Composition

(g / cm3)

Composition

0.9961
0.9957
0.9957
0.9956

(wt %)
Not Valid
0.303
0.303
0.606

0.9963
0.9961
0.9957
0.9944

(wt %)
Not valid
Not Valid
0.303
4.242

Efficiency

0.99
0.99
0.99

4.0 Discussion

Oil water separation is a physical process of water treatment to remove partition of oil to
achieve better quality of water. With constituent of oil presence in water, it can adversely
affected the quality of water as it had loss the purpose of water to serve for drinking purpose. Not
only have that, oil-water separation also vital in preliminary treatment to allow better efficiency
in primary treatment. A coagulation process is not satisfying enough when there is oil present in
water, leading to cause only slight turbidity reduction. Although the water is not utilized for
drinking purpose, oil is still required to be removed to a certain level as prescribed under
Environmental Quality (Industrial Effluent) Regulation 2009.
The first objective of experiment was to operate a liquid-liquid separation experiment
using a single stage mixer settler. The principle of oil-water separation is based on differential in
density. First, oil and water from separated tank were pumped out at equal flow rate, allowing
them to physically contact to each other. Both of the flow rate first were set to 10 L/ hr. At
interval of 10 minutes, the flow was readjusted to 20, 30 and 40 L/ hr. Then, at a rendezvous

point, the mixture achieved total flow rate before entering a single stage mixer settler. The settler
is named single stage because it involve only one time of mixing process as well one time
settling process. On the other hand, for multiple stage mixer settler, mixing and settling steps are
repetitive depending on the number of stages. At mixer settler, a rotating blade is installed
vertically, operated to promote coalescence of oil. This will make the oil particle accumulated
into bigger size. There, the layer of oil can be seen clearly and start to separate from water.
Because the density of oil is lower than water, oil partition tend to float due to action of
gravitational force.
Then, a coalescing plate is installed vertically. It is a plate or series of plates to encourage
separation of materials based on densities. There is a gap between the edge of the plate and
ceiling of mixer settler vessel. When liquid mixture flowing through the coalescing plate, they
accumulated to wall of the plate, and the level of liquid would raise. As stated, the density of oil
is lower than water, where it leading to buoyancy on surface. After floating at certain level, the
oil decanted from the plate and flow towards light phase tank while the water-favor parts will
flow into heavy phase tank.
The next objective was to determine the effect of residence time on the separation
efficiency. Theoretically, the separation efficiency is proportional to flowrate. As the amount of
oil-water was flow to the mixer, the accumulation of oil increased as well. When more oil found
during the separation, the adhesion activities between oil particles also increase. This adhesion is
a weak contact that clump together the particles resulted from turbulence (Lee et al., 2007).
When more oil come in contact to each other, the particle size became bigger, and the separation
is more likely to occur. By experimentally, it was discovered that all three flowrates achieved the
same efficiency which was 0.99. This showed that, the increasing of flow rate was regardless to
the efficiency because the maximum possible efficiency was already achieved at 20 L / hr.
There is also weakness found in the results (Table 3.2). The composition of separated
water and separated oil at 10 L / hr was decided to be invalid. This is because the composition
measured had exceeded the density value of pure water (0.9958 g / cm 3). Thus, the accuracy of
reading is not reliable. The main reason might come from the way on handling the meter.

5.0 Conclusion

Oil-Water separation process was done by their differential in physical properties which
is the density. The density factor ensure the efficiency of separation. Besides, the composition
also became one of the main factor. The efficiency was possible to be achieved at high value if
the content of oil in wastewater is significant.
Based on the experiment conducted, the efficiency achieved for all three valid flowrates
was 0.99. This showed that, regardless of flowrate applied, the separation between oil and water
is successful. However, an improvement have to be made for acquiring better data reliability.
References

Davis, M., & Masten, S. (2004). Principles of environmental engineering and science. New
York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Lee, D., Bateman, W., & Owens, N. (2007). Efficiency of Oil/Water Separation Controlled by
Gas Bubble Size and Fluid Dynamics within the Separation Vessel.

Appendix

Sample Calculation for efficiency,


Efficiency = 1 (Amount of oil in separated water / Amount of oil entering the mixer settler)

=1-

((0.303% x 20 L / hr of average flowrate x 10 minutes of residence time)


___________________________________________________________
20 L / hr of average flowrate x 40 minutes of residence time

0.99