What is an Oil Skimmer?
An oil skimmer is a special piece of equipment that removes oil floating on the surface of water. Oil contamination of waste water is a serious problem, and proper water decontamination is no longer optional for any ethical enterprise. It is absolutely critical to the health of our planet and the human species that we keep our water supply free of contamination, especially petrochemicals. We have simply stressed the resources of the Earth too far for further heedless exploitation. With intelligent use and management we will probably be able to extend our comfortable dominion over nature indefinitely, but callous disregard for environmental consequence is no longer possible for any moral or honest human being.
Waste Oil Must be Recovered
Waste oil simply must be recovered whenever possible. This is economical and environmentally responsible, because recovered oil can be rehabilitated, recycled, and resold. Modern oil skimming systems are extremely efficient and can process a large amount of oil from divergent mediums without difficulty. The machines are largely self-regulating and can adjust to differing water levels or flow rates. Skimmed oil is diverted to a compartment for easy retrieval, and the oil can be recycled with little further effort.
Three Types of Oil Skimmers
There are three major types of oil skimmers, each with different strengths and weaknesses.
Weir skimmers are the easiest to comprehend, as they simply allow liquid to flow over an inclined plane and then use the differing viscosities of oil and other fluids to separate them apart. This is extremely reliable and efficient, but the design does substantially disturb water flow and is therefore not suitable for more sensitive oil recovery operations.
Oleophilic skimmers use the sticky nature of petrochemical substances to pick oil up from the top of the water. They will often utilize a large rotating barrel or drum to skim the surface of the water. The oil will adhere to the barrel, so it is picked up and sluiced away. Water is not picked up by the barrel, so it remains undisturbed. This is ideal in environmental cleanup situations.
Non-oleophilic skimmers use purely mechanical methods to separate oil from water. They are extremely effective, but only useful for industrial applications and on-site installation.
Benefits of Oil Skimming
Oil skimming is not only used to mitigate the accidental release of oil into the environment. It is ideal to prevent such release. Nearly every manufacturing facility has a waste water system and a central disposal area. When water is retained for a time before being discharged, lighter oils will rise to the top. If oil skimmers are included in the plumbing design, then the disposal becomes much more efficient, the costs of waste water discharge and pollution are reduced, and the recaptured oil is ready to recycle. Oil skimmers are also excellent for keeping coolant flow clean and clear of “tramp oils.” Oil contamination in coolant is a leading cause of machine wear and malfunction, and also tends to produce noxious odors and an unhealthy working environment. Skimmed coolant is pure and safe.
Waste oil should always be removed from waste water before it is discharged. Businesses that have a lot of small oil discharges, like garages or service centers, should always skim their runoff. Oil skimmers excel at removing floating oil from water runoff, no matter how small the amounts of either, and this is essential for safety and for convenience. Food processing facilities also face substantial challenges in separating oils from waste water, and a well-designed oil skimmer can make substantial savings in waste water discharge bills.