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Competence development

Basic separation theory


Printed
Book No
Mar 2010
EPS004-E-1
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Published by: Alfa Laval Tumba AB
Competance Development
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Sweden
Copyright Alfa Laval Tumba AB 2010.
Original instructions
Contents
EPS002-E-1
1 Fundamental concepts ........................................... 5
1.1 Gravity separation .......................................... ..........5
1.2 Laminar and turbulent flow.......................... .........6
1.3 Capacity flow..................................................... .........7
1.3.1 Settling velocity ..................................................... ..........8
1.4 Parameters in Stokes law............................ ..........9
1.4.1 Particle size ........................................................... ..........9
1.4.2 Density difference.................................................. ..........9
1.4.3 Viscosity................................................................. ..........9
1.5 Stokes' law...................................................... ..........10
1.6 Separation efficiency vs flow and area. ..........11
2 Improving separation efficiency..................... 13
2.1 Baffle plates flow.......................................... ..........13
2.1.1 Why baffle plates matter...................................... ..........14
2.1.2 Summing up ........................................................ ..........15
2.2 Centrifugal separation.................................. .........16
2.2.1 Redesigning the vessel ....................................... ..........17
2.2.2 From gravitational to centrifugal force................. ..........18
2.3 High speed separator (HSS) design........ ..........19
2.3.1 The Disc stack..................................................... ..........19
2.3.2 Flow between discs............................................. ..........20
2.3.3 The tank............................................................... ..........21
2.3.4 The divided tank.................................................. ..........22
2.3.5 Adding oil in the divided tank.............................. ..........23
2.3.6 Increasing sufficiency with centrifugal force...... ..........26
3 Bowl and application.............................................. 27
3.1 The separator ................................................. ..........27
3.2 Basic separation principles........................ .........28
3.2.1 Separator............................................................. ..........28
3.2.2 Clarifier / Purifier .................................................. ..........29
3.3 Operational problems .................................. ..........30
3.4 Purifier bowl.................................................... ..........31
3.5 Clarifier Bowl ................................................... .........32
3.6 Factors affecting the interface ................. .........33
3.6.1 Interface moving inwards .................................... ..........33
3.6.2 The interface moving outwards ........................... ..........34
3.7 How to find the right gravity disc............ ..........35
DNVPS / ALFA LAVAL FUEL OIL TREATMENT
4 EPS002-E-1
4 Separation efficiency.............................................. 37
4.1 Separator vs Filter ........................................ ..........37
4.2 Particles we separate/ dont separate... ..........38
4.2.1 Components in oils not affected.......................... ..........38
4.2.2 Components in oils affected................................ ..........39
4.3 ISO standard 8217 ........................................ ..........40
4.4 Catfines ............................................................. .........41
5 Summary.......................................................................... 43
5.1 Optimum interface........................................ ..........43
5.2 Temperature ................................................... ..........43
5.3 Stokes law. ..................................................... ..........44
5.4 Separator limitations .................................... .........45
5.4.1 Density limits........................................................ ..........45
EPS004-E-1 5
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 1 FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPTS
1 Fundamental concepts
The aim of the course is to present some
basic concepts of separation and explain
how the High Speed Separator works. We
will start with reviewing some fundamental
concepts concerning separation, which will
lead us to the formulation of Stokes' law.
We will also look into how we can improve
separation efficiency, describe the bowl and
application and in the end we have a look at
separation efficiency.
1.1 Gravity separation
Lets start to look at a batch tank with a liquid
that contains solid particles, i.e. sludge.
What is the root cause to the fact that the
sludge particles settle?
The settling is due to the difference in density
between the particles and the liquid. Density is
denominated (rho). The heavier particles sink
to the bottom of the tank because of the force of
gravitation.
We can also identify two important parameters
in this simple setup. The longer the time, the
greater the separation. We can also see that
different particles settle at different speeds.
The smaller the particles, the more time
required before they settle. This important
phenomenon is a part of Stokes' law, which will
be discussed later on.
Starting point- A liquid with sludge
The density differs
The heavier particles sink because of the
force of gravitation.
The longer the time, the greater separation
The smaller the particles , the more time
required to settle

particle

liquid
>
Gravity separation
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1 FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPTS BASIC SEPARATION THEORY
6 EPS004-E-1
1.2 Laminar and turbulent
flow
If we instead set up a continuous flow tank
where the sludge remains at the bottom of the
tank. The flow enters the tank to the left and
exits to the right. Q denominates the flow rate.
But why is it that the particles stay at rest after
that they have reached the bottom? Why are
they not swept away towards the outlet due to
the liquid flow? Furthermore, does sludge
always settle irrespective of the flow rate or the
tank design?
The answer to these questions is important for
our understanding of how a separator works
Fig.1.4. Laminar flow
At moderate flow rates, the particles will fall to
rest in a separation tank due to the fact that the
liquid flow will vary along the vertical axis of
the tank, i.e. the flow varies depending on how
deep we are looking in the tank.
The red arrows indicate the speed of the liquid
flow at different depths. The closer we get to the
bottom of the tank, the more slowly the liquid
phase moves. This is the natural behavior of
what is known as laminar flow, i.e. a
relatively slow and steady flow. (Fig. 1.4)
The tank to the right illustrates a much higher
flow rate. When the flow rate is increased to a
certain level, turbulent flow arises. (Fig. 1.5)
In a turbulent flow, the liquid constantly sweeps
the particles along due to the quite fierce liquid
movement throughout the tank.
Summing up
One of the things to be understood from this is
that we have to limit the flow in a continuous
separator so that the flow stays laminar.
Laminar flow will allow the sludge to settle in
the tank.
Fig.1.5. Turbulent flow
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EPS004-E-1 7
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 1 FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPTS
1.3 Capacity flow
Separation capacity is important for any kind of
separator and for a continuous tank we will here
set up an equation for it.
Lets say that we have a certain demand for
purity at the outlet. There is then a flow limit at
which that purity can be reached. Lets call this
limit flow rate Q
c
, where the subscripted c
stands for capacity. A flow rate higher than Q
c

will give less separation than required.
Then we can formulate the following expression
for the capacity flow, Q
c
.
The equation states that the capacity of a
continuous gravity separator is proportional to
the settling velocity (v
g
) and the area
(A=widthlength=wl) of the tank. The settling
velocity, is the vertical velocity with which the
particle is approaching the bottom of the tank.
Fig. 1.6. Capacity of a continuous tank
Q
c
v
g
A =
L
W
Inlet
Outlet

Q
c
= Flow= throughput
capacity (m/s)
V
g
=Gravitational settling
velocity (m /s)
A= Settling area ( l x w) ( m)
Q
c
v
g
A = Q
c
v
g
A =
1 FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPTS BASIC SEPARATION THEORY
8 EPS004-E-1
1.3.1 Settling velocity
To be able to use the equation for the
separators capacity flow, we need to explore the
term settling velocity (v
g
) a bit more.
Lets pick one of the sludge particles and take a
look at its movement.(fig. 1.7.) As is indicated,
this particle is moving diagonally at this
moment. It is important to stress the fact that
was mentioned on the last page. It is only the
vertical portion of this movement that is
represented in the formula for Q
c
.
To sort this out, we can recognize that the
diagonally movement is due to two forces acting
on it: Firstly, we have the gravitational force,
making the particle to move downwards this
is also the vertical v
g
that you find in the
formulas. Secondly, the particle is also moving
due to the flow.
Before we move on, lets make a comment on the
terms and concepts that we use:
The term velocity will sometimes be replaced
with the term speed as we go along. The term
speed can be used when direction of the motion
is not an issue for understanding the sentence.
In this course we will not go into details when it
comes to forces as such in equations etc.,
instead we will focus on the velocities (which of
course are due to the action of forces).
In Fig. 1.8 we see our particle in the flow again.
What is it that makes this particle to move
diagonally down as we saw in Fig. 1. 7?
Firstly, we have the gravitational force that will
make the particle sink towards the bottom. This
is the gravitational settling velocity, v
g
, we
have pointed out before. If gravity were the only
force, i.e. if we had no flow, the particles would
move vertically towards the bottom. Due to the
flow, the particles will also be forced to move in
the flow direction. This movement illustrated
by the arrow pointing towards the outlet. If
gravity were turned off for a second (which of
course is not possible) the particle would move
in this direction only. The resulting velocity,
thus its resulting movement is the sum of the
two velocities.
Fig. 1.8
Fig. 1.7
EPS004-E-1 9
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 1 FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPTS
1.4 Parameters in Stokes
law
The gravitational settling velocity, v
g
, decides
how fast the settling during gravitational
separation is. But the settling velocity is not
decided by gravity only. Lets discuss the
parameters that decide the settling velocity
before we look into the Stokes law equation
itself.
1.4.1 Particle size
We have already mentioned in the beginning of
the course that particle size does affect the
settling the larger the particle, the faster it
settles. Take for instance grains of granite, one
with a diameter of a couple of millimeters and
the other of a diameter of some tenth of a
millimeter (just visible). If you let them sink in a
volume of water, the settling speed will differ
noticeably.
1.4.2 Density difference
Thinking about it, it is quite natural that the
density difference between particles and liquid
affects how fast the settling takes place. Granite
has more than 2.5 times greater density
compared to water. Thus it settles quickly when
put in water.
1.4.3 Viscosity
Viscosity is a measure of the flow resistance of a
fluid. As an example, we can feel the flow
resistance in a viscous liquid (e.g. a bucket with
fuel oil) when we stir it. The flow resistance due
to viscosity is higher in fuel oil compared to
water and this will affect the settling velocity.
1 FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPTS BASIC SEPARATION THEORY
10 EPS004-E-1
1.5 Stokes' law
Stokes law is written as seen in the grey square
on the right.. The parameters in the equation
are:
v
g
, which is the gravitational settling velocity.
Velocity is measured in meters per second.
Particle diameter. You can see that the
particle diameter will affect the settling
velocity by the power of two. This means that
a particle double the size will settle four times
faster, and a particle treble the size will settle
nine times faster.
Diameter is measured in meters.
Difference in density between the particle
and liquid. Density is denominated by the
Greek letter rho ().
Density is measured in kilogram per cubic
meter.
Viscosity, which is denominated by the Greek
letter eta (). Viscosity is commonly
measured in cP, centipoise.
Conversion to SI-units:
1 cP = 1 Pa s 10
-3
= 1 kg/(ms) 10
-3

=1000 cP = 1 kg/(ms)
Gravitational acceleration constant.
Acceleration is measured in meter per
second to a potent of two.The dimension for
acceleration is meter per square second.
v
g
d
2

l
( )
18
------------------------------g =
= gravitational settling velocity ( m/s )
= particle diameter (m)
= particle density ( kg / m )
= liquid phase density ( kg / m )
= liquid phase viscosity (cP)
= gravitational accelaration (m /s)
v
g
d

g
Stokes law:
EPS004-E-1 11
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 1 FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPTS
1.6 Separation efficiency
vs flow and area
Lets conclude this chapter by reconnecting to
the capacity again. We can illustrate the term
separation efficiency as a function of flow in the
separator tank by a simple graph. (Fig. 1.9)
If you have a requested separation, e.g. 60%,
you can read from the graph how large the
maximum flow could be for this separation
efficiency.
From experiments and from field tests with
High Speed Separators, one can get data to
draw graphs where separation efficiency is a
function of particle size, density difference and
viscosity, respectively. We will not cover this in
this course, but you should know that those
relationships of course is of importance when
deciding which model should be used for a
specific application.
When we look another graph ( Fig. 1.10) we can
see that separator efficiency increases
proportional to area.
The larger area we have the higher is the
separation efficiency.
So the conclusion is;
Separation efficiency is proportional to settling
area and inversely to Q.
Fig. 1.9. Seperation efficiency vs
flow
Fig. 1.9. Seperation efficiency vs
area
1 FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPTS BASIC SEPARATION THEORY
12 EPS004-E-1
EPS004-E-1 13
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 2 IMPROVING SEPARATION EFFICIENCY
2 Improving separation efficiency
In this section we will discuss how
separation efficiency can be improved. This is
the basis for understanding the design of our
High Speed Separators.
2.1 Baffle plates flow
Lets return to the settling tank again. There is
a simple, but important, change in its design to
radically improve the separation efficiency.
The design change is to add baffle plates. The
baffle plates can be placed horizontally or tilted.
In this case we look at the tilted alternative.
The greatest improvement with baffle plates
can be described as that the settling distance
for particles in the sludge is shortened.
To sort this out, we need to go back to the
discussion concerning particle movement and
how the liquid flows that we had in the
beginning.
Fig. 2.2. Enlarged settling area by means of baffle
plates
Fig. 2.1 Continuous gravity separation vessel
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2 IMPROVING SEPARATION EFFICIENCY BASIC SEPARATION THEORY
14 EPS004-E-1
2.1.1 Why baffle plates matter
In Fig. 2.2 we will look at the flow between the
baffle plates a bit closer in order to see how
they can improve the separation efficiency. The
key concept behind this design change is that
the flow between the baffle plates will vary
depending on how close to the plates the liquid
passes.
1 This is the liquid flow profile showing how quickly
different portions of liquid move between the
plates. Long arrows indicate high liquid flow rate
and short arrows indicate low liquid flow rate.
This kind of flow profile yields for laminar flow.
2 Near the baffle plate surfaces, the liquid flow
diminishes and the shear force on settled
particles is small. Lets review this stepwise:
3 Here we have three particles. The resulting
velocity for each particle will be a sum of two
contributing velocities, represented by each pair
of arrows:
a The upwards directed arrows represents the
velocity portion that the particle gets from
the surrounding liquids motion. For the three
particles, you can see that this flow velocity
differs depending on where they are in the
laminar flow.
b The downwards directed arrows represent
the velocity portion that the particle gets due
to gravity. This is the same for the three
particles.
4 For the particle in the middle of the stream, the
resulting movement at this specific moment is
according to the length and direction of the red
arrow. This particle will at this moment follow the
flow upwards, but not entirely parallel to the flow
direction.
5 For the second particle, the movement at this
moment is directed almost horizontal due to the
fact that the liquid flow is slower around this
particle.
6 The particle near the wall will fall downwards.
The movement of this particle is almost entirely
determined by gravity. As you remember, the
liquid movement upwards is almost zero in the
vicinity of the plate. And when the particle
reaches the baffle, it follows the baffle wall
downwards.
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EPS004-E-1 15
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 2 IMPROVING SEPARATION EFFICIENCY
2.1.2 Summing up
By means of the baffle plates, the settling
distance for the particles is reduced. Take your
time to try to see this from the all arrows in the
slide.
Each pair of black arrows represent the velocity
contributions from
a the force of gravity and
b the liquid movement.
The red arrows represent the direction and
speed that the particles have at this specific
moment the red arrows explain why the
particles move so differently depending on where
they are in the flow between the plates they are.
The smooth and simple shape of the laminar
flow profile in this example is valid for relatively
low flow rates and simple designs. In a high
speed separator, the laminar flow profile will be
much more complicated and it will also vary
throughout the disk stack. Nevertheless, the
underlying principle we have discussed here is
the same.
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B
16 EPS004-E-1
2 IMPROVING SEPARATION EFFICIENCY BASIC SEPARATION THEORY
2.2 Centrifugal separation
So far we have looked at a settling tank where
the separation is only influenced by gravity, i.e.
1g, which of course is constant (9,81 m/s
2
).
To get a higher settling speed, we can create a
centrifugal force acting on the particles by
spinning the vessel. The heavier particle will
then move towards the periphery instead of
downwards (the gravitation force is still
present but is quite minute compared to the
high centrifugal force we can get due to the
high rotating speed. High Speed Separators
create centrifugal forces corresponding to 5000
-15000 g.
The magnitude of the driving force acting
during centrifugal separation depends on the
rotating speed and the radius. This is shown in
the formula. Compared to Stokes' law for
gravity separation, gravity g is replaced with
the term r
2
.
Radius, r
In gravity separation, the settling speed is the
same throughout the volume of the vessel. But
when it comes to centrifugal separation, the
settling speed varies with the distance to the
periphery a particle has at each moment. The
greater the radius, i.e. the closer to the periphery,
the higher the settling speed for the particles.
Rotating speed. In the formula, the rotating
speed is expressed as angular speed (). Angular
speed is measured in (radians)/sec.
The angular speed is as high near the centre as
it is in the periphery.
As angular speed is represented as
2
in the
formula, doubling the rotating speed will give
four times higher settling speed. Three times
the angular speed gives nine times higher
settling speed, etc.
Here it is useful to know that energy
consumption for getting the separator up to
speed is also rising exponentially with the
angular speed.
r
2
is measured in [m(radians)
2
/s
2
]. As radians
is defined without dimension, the dimension
for v
c
turns out to be m/s, which, as we would
have expected, is the dimension for velocity.
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EPS004-E-1 17
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 2 IMPROVING SEPARATION EFFICIENCY
2.2.1 Redesigning the vessel
Lets look at the redesign of the separation vessel
we have done so far.
1 We started our discussions with the most simple
kind of vessel.
2 By introducing baffle plates, we managed to
improve the separation efficiency quite a lot.
3 The third design displayed is a new design
introduced here. The purpose of this design is only
to bridge over to the design of the High Speed
Separators. This design has the same functions as
the second one. The inlet lies above the outlet
creating a flow through the vessel and you can see
that the baffle plates are in place.
D
0
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B
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 2 IMPROVING SEPARATION EFFICIENCY
18 EPS004-E-1
2.2.2 From gravitational to
centrifugal force
By taking the re-designed vessel turning it 90
&and setting the vessel in rotation we have an
illustration of a centrifugal separation vessel
with a disk stack.
The centrifugal force in a High Speed Separator
corresponds to up to 7000 g.
Please note how the particles are moving
towards the lower sides of the disks on their way
to the outer wall of the bowl. The particles paths
are determined by the strong centrifugal force,
which is directed outwards.
.
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4
C
EPS004-E-1 19
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 2 IMPROVING SEPARATION EFFICIENCY
2.3 High speed separator
(HSS) design
2.3.1 The Disc stack
Fig. 2.7 shows a exploded view of a bowl.
Inside the bowl we find the disc stack. The discs
act as buffer plates in the bowl and are situated
in the center of the bowl.
Each disc has distance pieces to keep the proper
distance to the next disc. The distance pieces are
called caulks.
The distance between the discs is quite small
and lie normallybetween 0.4-0.8 mm depending
on the application. Separators used in some
applications (e.g. Fish and Meat) are loaded with
mixtures containing very sticky solids. In these
separators, the distance can be 1-2 mm between
discs to avoid clogging of the disc stack.
The disc stack is one of the most important parts
of the separator. It is here that separation of dirt
particles takes place.
Should the disc stack get dirty, or blocked in any
way, the separation efficiency will be drastically
reduced. Here we find the forces working on the
particles during separation g force and flow.
Fig. 2.7. Disc stack overview
Caulk(s) 0,4-0,8 mm
Disc- stack
Bowl
Particles and forces during
separation
Short settling paths, large
settling area.
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BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 2 IMPROVING SEPARATION EFFICIENCY
20 EPS004-E-1
2.3.2 Flow between discs
In Fig. 2.8 we look inside the disc stack at two
discs and the opening between them. This
opening depends on the thickness of the caulks
and can vary from 0, 4 to 0,8mm depending on
the application.
We will now look at the forces working on a
particle passing between the discs.
There are two forces working on the particle
between the discs the flow and the g-force.
You remember this from the earlier slide. Lets
look at the flow first;
Inside the discs we have what we call a
parabolic velocity profile, meaning the flow is
higher in the middle than on the sides close to
the discs.
This is the same effect we find in a pipe or in a
river. The flow in the middle of the river can be
very high, but near the banks the flow can be
very low and in some cases actually go in the
opposite direction. We use this difference in flow
to maximize the separation process.
If we imagine a particle going into the bowl and
into the opening between the discs, the particle
will be in the middle of the flow due to the high
flow forces working on it, the G force and the
force of the flow.
When the particle enters the bowl and the discs,
the force in the bowl starts to influence the
particle which will start moving out of the main
flow and into the lower flow underneath the
discs due to the forces working at different
angles. We remember this from the earlier
presentation on settling velocity for particles.
When the particle has moved close to the disc
the flow forces are lower than the g-forces and
the particle now moves against the flow and
outwards into the periphery of the bowl i.e. into
the sludge space.
The g-force is higher at the periphery than in
the middle of the bowl, which makes it easier to
catch particles the further they get from the
centre of the bowl. One effect of this is that if
the flow is too high in the bowl no particles will
be caught and the lower the flow the more
particles will be caught.
0,5 - 0,8 mm
1. G-forces
2. Flow
Fig. 2.9. Parabolic velocity profile.Friction close to
wall causes lower velocity. Friction close to centre of
tube causes higher velocity.
Fig. 2.10. Particles in the discs
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EPS004-E-1 21
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 2 IMPROVING SEPARATION EFFICIENCY
2.3.3 The tank
We have been looking at separation in a simple
vessel. Let us go one step further and use the
separator to illustrate the product flow and
separation.
As we can see in Fig. 2.11, the separator turned
90 looks much like a tank.
When we fill the bowl with water we still have
only the small natural g-force acting on the
particles. (Fig. 2.12)
When we look at the shape of the bowl the
particles have a long way to travel in the deep
end and a short way to travel in the shallow
end. This means that it will take longer time for
the particles in the deep end to settle. (Fig. 2.13)
We are only able to separate particles from one
liquid when we have a separator/vessel in this
configuration.( Fig. 2.14) How can we separate
two liquids and particles?
If we try to add more than one liquid into the
separator now with a different density, the
heaviest liquid will settle at the bottom and
eventually fill the tank and flow out. We need to
control both the light and heavy liquid when we
have continuous separation, but how?
Fig. 2.11. Tank
Fig. 2.12. Tank with liquid
G-force
Fig. 2.13. Tank with liquids and solids
Fig. 2.1 4 . Separation of liquids and solids
Long
settling
distance
Short
settling
distance
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BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 2 IMPROVING SEPARATION EFFICIENCY
22 EPS004-E-1
2.3.4 The divided tank
We introduce buffer plates! ( Fig. 2.15 ) These
buffer plates will divide two liquids with
different densities and we can control the flow
out of the separator.
We will have one heavy phase and one light
phase. But we need a way to control the
interface between the two liquids to control the
discharge of the liquids through different
outlets.
In fig. 2.16 we can see the water level filling up
until it flows over in the heavy outlet. We have
now set the water seal in the separator and
made sure the oil is not coming through the
wrong outlet.
We introduce the U-tube to follow the hydraulic
balance in the bowl. We have the same level in
the U-tube as we have in the separator and you
can see the water is up to the water outlet, we
now have the maximum water level in the U-
tube and the bowl.
If we add more water into the bowl ( Fig. 2.17),
the water starts to flow out of the water outlet/
heavy phase outlet.
We can see that the level in the U-tube is not
rising; all the water we add will just flow out of
the water outlet.
We can now have continuous separation of one
liquid and particles, but we are interested in
separation of two liquids, water and oil and
particles.
Lets see what happens when we add oil to the
separator.
Fig. 2.15. Install baffle plates
Fig. 2.16. Water sealed filled
U-tube
U-tube
U-tube
Fig. 2.16. Water sealed filled. More water
added.
I
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EPS004-E-1 23
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 2 IMPROVING SEPARATION EFFICIENCY
2.3.5 Adding oil in the divided tank
When we add the oil to the separator we start to
define the interface between the water and the
oil.
We establish the oil column height and we have
the same height in the U tube as in the
separator.
We establish the water column height and also
this will be the same height in the u-tube as in
the separator.
This interface is what we control to position the
light phase and heavy phase in the separator.
When we filled the oil to the U-tube we removed
some of the water from the vessel, but since the
oil has a lower density than the water it will
float on top of the water. We have now created
two levels in the u-tube and the separator.
The difference in the oil column height and the
water column height is the density difference.
The greater the density differences between the
two liquids the greater the difference in column
height.
Fig. 2.18. Separation of oil/water and solids
Oil column
height
Water
column
height
Density
difference
D
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0
1
0
1
6
D
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 2 IMPROVING SEPARATION EFFICIENCY
24 EPS004-E-1
It is possible to change the output level at two
different points -at the water outlet and at the oil
outlet. ( Fig. 2.19)
We dont change the interface if we change the
oil output level, only increase or reduce the oil
column height. This could be a solution if the oil
was homogenous and the density never changed.
But the density of fuel oil is changing all the
time moving the interface up and down.
We need a tool to make sure the interface is in
the correct position, make sure water is going
through the water outlet and the oil in the oil
outlet. We leave the oil height weir in a fixed
position and use the heavy side weir to control
the interface.We control the position of the
interface with an adjustable weir in the heavy
phase outlet; also called gravity disc in the
separator!
Fig. 2.19. Divided levels
Fixed oil surface level weir= The level
ring
Fixed
oil
surface
level
weir
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G
EPS004-E-1 25
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 2 IMPROVING SEPARATION EFFICIENCY
We adjust the position of the interface, up or
down, with the height of the weir (in the
separator we use different diameters on the
gravity disc). ( Fig. 2.20) It is important to have
control over the interface. If it becomes too high,
water can come through with the oil and if too
low will send oil out with the water. The height
of the weir depends on the density of the oil. The
higher density of the oil the higher the weir. The
oil will displace more water when it has a high
density and we increase the height of the weir to
keep the interface in the same position in the
separator and make sure oil is not coming out
with the water. If that happens we have lost the
water seal and have no control of the process. If
the oils density is lower we get the opposite
effect. The oil displaces less water and the
interface is rising and we can have a situation
where water comes out with the oil..
In this case we install a higher density weir
without changing the density of the oil. We can
see the interface is moving upwards in the bowl
and in the u-tube. When we do this the water
column becomes higher and therefore displaces
more of the oil from the U-tube.
This increase in the water column height
corresponds to the change in the density weir,
gravity disc!
Fig. 2.20. Divided levels
D
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0
1
0
1
6
E
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 2 IMPROVING SEPARATION EFFICIENCY
26 EPS004-E-1
2.3.6 Increasing sufficiency with
centrifugal force
We raise the vessel and turn it into a rotating
separator! We are now replacing G force with r
(Centrifugal force) in Stokes law. This means
that the force acting on the particles is increased
by thousands. In some of our separators the G-
force is increased to 7000g. We can increase the
flow and produce enough for engine consumption
by choosing the right size of separator.
When we have established the interface and the
process is running properly, we still only have a
small production due to just one G is
influencing the particles.
So what can we do to increase the production?
If we look back to the beginning of this
presentation we talked about efficiency. We
mentioned that increasing the area would also
increase the efficiency. So we add some buffer
plates which increases the settling area in the
separator, these buffer plates are called discs in
the separator. ( Fig. 2.21)
This will increase the efficiency and thereby the
production, but we need to increase production.
How can we increase production further?
Fig. 2.22. Increasing sufficiency with centrifugal force
G-force
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0
1
0
3
6
I
Thousands of G
replacing 1G
Rotation of the
tank
D
0
0
1
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1
6
F
Fig. 2.21. Adding Buffer plates (discs)
EPS004-E-1 27
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 3 BOWL AND APPLICATION
3 Bowl and application
In this section we will look at the bowl, its
major components, purifier/clarifier and
limitations of the conventional separator. We
will also look at some common problems of
operating a conventional separator, and have
a look at how to choose the right gravity disc.
3.1 The separator
In Fig. 4.1 we can see the different parts in the
separator:
The feed to the separator, oil, particles and
water.The light phase; where clean oil is ejected.
The heavy phase; where water is ejected.
Fig.4.1. The separator
feed to separator
Light phase out
Heavy phase out
Gravity disc
Level Ring
Solids out
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BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 3 BOWL AND APPLICATION
28 EPS004-E-1
3.2 Basic separation
principles
Lets have a look at the conventional separator,
purifier and clarifier! The conventional
separators were always run in series, first the
purifier and then the clarifier.
3.2.1 Separator
First a separator set up as a purifier ( Fig. 4.2);
dirty oil and water is come in one end, go
through the separator, and clean oil comes out
through the clean oil outlet. Here we find the
back pressure valve, pressure gauge, and
pressure sensors. Water comes out of the open
water outlet and down into the sludge outlet
where the ejected sludge and water also end up.
This process, removing water and solids from the
oil is called Dewatering of oil
Fig. 4.2. Separator for purification
Oil/ Water/solids inlet
Cleaned oil outlet
Water outlet
Oil is cleaned from water and solids Dewatering of oils
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0
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EPS004-E-1 29
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 3 BOWL AND APPLICATION
3.2.2 Clarifier / Purifier
When we look at the clarifier (Fig. 4.3 ); oil
comes from the purifier into the clarifier. The
clarifier is removes the particles the purifier
couldnt remove, acting as a safety net in the
process.
We have the same set up in the clean oil outlet
as on the purifier, back pressure valve, pressure
gauge and pressure sensor.
There one large difference from the purifier in
the setup, the water outlet is closed! This is
done by replacing the gravity disc with a
clarifier disc, the disc with the smallest inner
diameter. When the water outlet is closed the
separators ability to remove water is limited, it
will only remove water by
discharge.
We call the separation process in a clarifier
polishing the oil.
There are some limitations as to the type of oil
the separators can handle.The purifier has a
density limit of 991kg/m and a viscosity limit of
600 cSt. Clarifiers have no density limit due to
the use of the clarifier disc closing the water
outlet.
Lets look at the applications where we can use
the conventional separators;
We use the purifier for:
fuel oil cleaning
lube oil cleaning
hydraulic oil cleaning
We use the clarifier for :
fuel oil polishing
hydraulic oil polishing
As you can see here we are not using the
clarifier in lube oil systems! And there is a good
reason for that! There is one thing missing in a
clarifier that we have in a purifier - a water
seal. There is no water added to the bowl in a
clarifier which would keep the sludge in a liquid
state making it easy to discharge.
Oil/ Water/solids inlet
Cleaned oil outlet
No Water outlet!
Water outlet is
closed.
Solids are removed from Oil
Polishing of oils
Fig. 4.3. Separator for clarification
S
0
0
1
0
0
5
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 3 BOWL AND APPLICATION
30 EPS004-E-1
3.3 Operational problems
In lubricating oil cleaning systems a clarifier
type separator may not be used for the following
reason:
The lubricating oil contains small amounts of
Calcium sulphate, produced by the neutralizing
sulphuric acid when it forms in the engine. The
acid is from burning fuel sulphur. Some of the
sulphur is converted to sulphuric acid. Most of
the marine lubricants are over based, meaning
they contain base calcium carbonate.The
reaction of calcium carbonate with sulphuric
acid results in calcium sulphate, water and
carbon dioxide. Gypsum is a hydrated form of
calcium sulphate, CaSO4*2H2O, and there is
usually a fare amount of water in the oil.
This gypsum will dry out due to the lack of
water in a clarifier (no water seal , therefore no
water is added into the bowl at start-up) and
will subsequently create a risk for only partial
removal smudge during a sludge discharge
sequence.
If only a part of the sludge cake is discharged,
the remainder of the sludge in the bowl can
create an uneven distribution of this sludge in
the bowl and the result will be a severe
unbalance of the bowl, a heavy side unbalance.
This heavy side unbalance can lead to severe
damage to the separator and to injury of
personnel operating the separator.

As to the LOPX or S type separators, which are
basically clarifiers, this risk is eliminated by the
introduction of conditioning water into the
bowl.
Conditioning water is fed into the bowl prior to
the opening of the oil 3 way feed valves
This water will create a thin water layer in the
bowl periphery and all the sludge removed from
the oil will have to pass through this water
layer, thereby absorbing a little water and thus
obtaining a soft consistence, will not dry out
and thus will not have the risk of gypsum
formation and uneven sludge discharge.
Fig. 4.4. Lube oil contamination sources
S
0
0
1
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0
6
EPS004-E-1 31
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 3 BOWL AND APPLICATION
3.4 Purifier bowl
When we look inside a purifier (Fig. 4.5. ) there
are some things we need to keep track of, the top
disc - the interface and the gravity disc. If we
start with the top disc; this is the buffer plate
keeping the oil and water separated. The
interface is the borderline between the water
and the oil. The interface is not a clear line,
emulsified oil is present on both the waterside
and oil side of the interface. The movement of
the interface controls the separation result; we
will look into this in the following slides.
The gravity disc is what controls the position of
the interface depending on the density of the oil,
temperature and flow in the bowl. We will come
back to this when we talk about how to find the
right gravity disk.
Here we can see the water seal inside the bowl,
the interface is set just inside the top disc and
the water accumulating moves outwards and up
to the gravity disc. Accumulation of water will
make the interface move inwards due to the
higher density of the water. If we have the right
size gravity disc the interface will move only a
short distance before the water starts coming
over the gravity disc and be removed from the
bowl.
Fig. 4.5. The Purifier Bowl
Oil inlet
Clean outlet
Closed water outlet
Top Disc
Interface
Gravity Disc
Sludge outlet
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B
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 3 BOWL AND APPLICATION
32 EPS004-E-1
3.5 Clarifier Bowl
If we look inside a clarifier bowl we find the
same parts as in the purifier.(Fig. 4.6)The only
exception is that the gravity disc is replaced by a
clarifier disc. This has a huge influence on the
hydraulic balance in the bowl. There is no water
seal in the clarifier and the reason is pure
physics. If we tried to set a water seal in a
clarifier where the adjustable weir, if you
remember the tank earlier in the presentation, is
high, water inside the bowl will displace the oil
due to the higher density. The interface will be
inside the disc stack and we lose control over the
separation process. This also means that the
clarifier cannot remove water, only accumulate
water in the sludge space and eject it from the
bowl during a discharge.
Lets look at some of the problems that can arise
during separation with a conventional separator.
Fig. 4.6. The clarifier bowl
Oil inlet
Clean outlet
Closed water outlet
Top Disc
Gravity Disc
Sludge outlet
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EPS004-E-1 33
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 3 BOWL AND APPLICATION
3.6 Factors affecting the
interface
3.6.1 Interface moving inwards
Lets assume that we have a running separator
with a well positioned interface. Something
happens that disturbs the balance in the bowl
and the interface moves inwards into the disc
stack. (Fig. 4.7)
One of the changes that can move the interface
is change of fuel oil. Using lower density will
move the interface inwards.
A lower viscosity will also have this effect on the
interface. This will happen if the gravity disc is
chosen at a wrong temperature. When the
temperature is increased the viscosity
decreases and interface moves inwards.
The interface will also move inwards if we lower
the flow through the bowl. This is because the
back pressure in the clean oil outlet will
decrease. One of the most common reasons for
this problem is that the gravity disc used is too
small! In some extreme cases we have found the
clarifier disc installed in a purifier, making the
purifier act like a clarifier, no water removal
and the interface in the wrong position. They
have actually changed the purifier into a pump!
What happens when the interface is too far into
the disc stack?
On the discs we have distribution holes which
are used to distribute the oil evenly through the
disc stack. If the interface reaches these holes it
will block the holes and interrupt the oil
distribution through the disc stack! Only a
small part of the disc stack will be open for the
oil to pass thru and what happens with the flow
if we have the same flow but through a much
smaller area! The flow through the open discs
will be so high that the separation efficiency
will be zero! Oil is flowing thru so fast that even
the high g-forces inside the separator cant
make a difference.
The interface will move inwards when:
The gravity disc is too small
The density of oil decreases
The viscosity of oil decreases
The temperature of oil increases
The flow rate decreases
This will cause:
Water blockage in disc stack
Bad separation efficiency
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Fig.4.7. Interface moving inwards
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 3 BOWL AND APPLICATION
34 EPS004-E-1
How can we detect this problem? We cant! And
this is the biggest problem when this happens.
There is no way to tell the customer that
something is wrong in the separator! There will
be no alarm, no indication of anything wrong
until problems arise in the engine due to the
separator not removing impurities from the oil
i.e. cat-fines.
So what can we do? The only way to prevent this
from happening is to test the separator, to see if
we have the right gravity disc installed. This is a
time consuming and tedious work but it is the
only way to make sure the separator is working
correctly. We shall come back to how to find the
right gravity disc later in this presentation.
3.6.2 The interface moving
outwards
This is another problem that can happen in a
purifier, the interface moves outwards and
breaks the water seal. ( Fig. 4.8 ) The reason for
this is: higher oil density, higher viscosity, lower
temperature, higher flow into the separator or
that the gravity disc is too big.
There is also an additional reason for this to
happen; the disc stack can be dirty. If the disc
stack is dirty the channels leading the oil are
smaller, the pressure outside the disc stack is
increasing and the interface move outwards.
This situation; where the interface moves
outwards and past the end of the top disc is
annoying but not dangerous. When this
happens we get an alarm and we then know
that something is wrong and can fix it! When
the alarm sounds we know what the problem is
and know what to do to fix it.
Both the problems are annoying but the first
one gives no indication when it happens and
can be dangerous for the engine operation!
From this we can see that the conventional
separator with gravity disc will be time
consuming to reach maximal efficiency and the
operator has to be well educated and
knowledgeable to do so. It is important to keep
the separator under close control and always
check when some of the parameters are
changed, such as a new oil batch, different flow
etc.
Fig. 4.8. Interface moving outwards
The interface will move outwards when:
The gravity disc is too big
The disc stack is dirty
The density of oil increases
The viscosity of oil increases
The temperature of oil decreases
The flow rate increases
This will cause:
Oil in water outlet and a broken
water seal
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EPS004-E-1 35
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 3 BOWL AND APPLICATION
3.7 How to find the right
gravity disc
The gravity disc is important for the operation
and efficiency of the separation process .
To keep the interface in the correct position we
need the correct gravity disc. To find this we
have to consider the density of the oil, the
temperature of the oil and the flow in the bowl.
All conventional separators have a full setup of
gravity discs that are specific for their type and
size. They have also a specific nomogram, a
diagram to help us choose the right gravity disc
(Fig. 4.9). First we look at the density of the oil,
this is stated in the bunker delivery note or the
bunker test answer from the laboratory.
1 Take the density and match it with the density in
the left side of the left graph. Now follow the
curved graph to the right separation
temperature, normally 98C for HFO and 90-
95C for lube oil.
2 The next step is to draw a horizontal line to the
flow through the separator, found on the bottom
of the right diagram. Now we have a starting
point, a suggestion for the size of the gravity
disc.In this case we end up in the border
between 53,3 and 55,5.
3 To make sure we have the interface as close to
the end of the top disc as possible, start with the
largest suggested gravity disc. We mount the
55,5 and start the separator to test if the water
seal will hold.
4 To make sure we dont have any problems with
the interface later we have to make sure that the
oil temperature is correct, separation
temperature is correct and the flow is correct
during this test. We will never be able to find the
right size gravity disc if the temperature or flow
varies.
5 If all the operational parameters are ok and the
water seal is holding we try an even larger
gravity disc. We do this until we find the gravity
disc where the water seal is breaking.We then go
back one size. This is the optimum gravity disc
for this oil at this temperature and flow.
If any of these parameters changes we may
have to change the gravity disc again. Having
the separator in the most efficient operation
mode all the time demands a lot of attention
from the operators.
In many cases they choose to fit a small gravity
disc to avoid alarms from the separator but
this can create the situation where the
interface is inside the disc stack and all the
problems that come with that scenario .
Fig. 4.10. A Nomogram which makes us able to choose the correct gravity disc.
1
2
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BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 3 BOWL AND APPLICATION
36 EPS004-E-1
EPS004-E-1 37
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 4 SEPARATION EFFICIENCY
4 Separation efficiency
In this section we look at separator vs filter,
we talk about what we are removing from the
oil and what we not remove from the oil. We
look at into ISO 8217, the standardization of
fuel purchase and we look at cat fines.
4.1 Separator vs Filter
First we compare cleaning effect between
separators and filters.
If we first look at particles larger than 4 we can
see that the separator removes between 65 to
85% of the particles, while the filter removes 5 to
10% of the particles.
We have the same effect when we talk about our
number one enemy in HFO Cat-fines. The
separator removes 60 to 90% of the particles, and
the filter removes approximately 5%. If for
instance we look at iron and sodium, the
separator removes 40 to 60% while the filter
removes up to 5%.
This goes to show that the separator is there to
clean the oil and the filter is there just for
protection, stopping nuts and bolts from entering
the engine.
Particles Separator removal (%) Filter removal (%)
Particles under 4 m 65-85 5-10
Catfines 60-90 ~ 5
Iron 40-60 ~ 5
Sodium 40-50 < 5
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 4 SEPARATION EFFICIENCY
38 EPS004-E-1
4.2 Particles we separate/
dont separate
4.2.1 Components in oils not affected
There are some components in the oil that are
not affected by the separator process. Some
because they have a lighter density than the oil
and others because they are part of the oil.The
separation process does not affect:
The Density of the oil; even if we remove some
of the particles in the oil.
The Viscosity of the oil ; we change the density
with the heater.
The CCAI . CCAI stands for Calculated
Carbon Aromaticity Index; a way to measure
the HFOs willingness to ignite inside the
cylinder.
The Flash point. This is a parameter indicating
at what temperature the light parts of the oil
start to evaporate and create dangerous
gases
The Pour point. It indicates what temperature it
is possible to pump the oil.
The Micro carbon residue.Its an indication of
the amount of carbon dissolved in the oil.
Sulphur and vanadium. Theyre part of the oil
and cant be removed by the separator.
Asphaltenes are also part of the oil and will not
be removed by the separator.
For more information and definitions regarding
the different part of the oil, see appendix 1.
EPS004-E-1 39
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 4 SEPARATION EFFICIENCY
4.2.2 Components in oils affected
The separator is good for removing the
dangerous parts in the oil; lets have a look at
some of the particles we can remove with the
separator.
Water; it can be salt water or fresh water
coming from different sources but the density
is much higher than oil and are therefore
relatively easy to remove from the oil.
Sodium is of course a part of sea water and
can therefore be moved easily. In some cases
the oil contains some sodium naturally but
then as a part of the oil, making it impossible
to remove.
Aluminium and silicon; also called cat-fines
are residue from the refining process and are
really dangerous for the engine operation if
they are not removed. Cat-fines are extremely
hard. On a scale from 1 to 10 with diamond as
10 the cat-fines are at 8,2, making them very
hard and thereby dangerous to the engine if
not removed. Luckily the particles can easily
be removed with the right tuning of the
separator.
Iron, magnesium, ash and calcium are part of
contamination in the oil and can be removed
by separation due to higher density than the
oil.
4 SEPARATION EFFICIENCY BASIC SEPARATION THEORY
40 EPS004-E-1
4.3 ISO standard 8217
We can blame the ISO 8217 that we are using
for fuel purchase for much of the problems we
have on board the ships regarding HFO, and
also thank it for needing the separator to clean
the oil after it is delivered on board the ship.
If we take a look at the values the supplier is
allowed to include in the oil when we buy the
HFO, we can see the potential for huge
problems and costs. First look at the water,
they are allowed to give us 0,5% water in the
delivery. This may not look like a big problem,
water is water and there is usually a fuel plant
on board with separators to take care of the
water. But, you are paying 500$ + per ton of
water (bunkering 2000t of oil gives 10t of water
to a cost of 5000$), you dont know if it is sea
water including salt, and the problems with
high temp corrosion, or fresh water with less
impact on the process. If the separators are not
maintained and operated correctly the water is
still in the oil when it reaches the engine. We
come back to this later in the presentation.
Another big trouble maker is the Al/Si content
allowed in the delivery. They are allowed
80ppm cat fines, and can give you this amount
every time you buy fuel. The engine
manufacturers demand not higher than 15 to
20ppm cat-fines maximum entering the engine.
This means that the separator plant has to be
in a good condition to remove enough cat fines
to reach the engine manufacturers
specification. It is impossible to day to find the
actual size of the particles through fuel testing.
A fuel test will only reveal the level of
contamination and not the actual size of the
particles. Smaller particles, smaller than 4-5
micron are not as harmful to the engine as
larger particles due to the thickness of the oil
film. It could be that if the particles are small,
less than 4 micron and smaller, we could
deliver 80ppm after the separator without
damaging the engine. We are working on a
solution to make sure the particle size living
the separator is so small that they cant harm
the engine.
EPS004-E-1 41
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 4 SEPARATION EFFICIENCY
4.4 Catfines
Fig. 5.1. shows real cat-fines and Dyno particles
magnified 2000 times. As you can see the cat-
fines come in all kinds of shape and sizes. Some
of the particles are big and easy to remove
through separation, others are small and more
difficult to remove.
The Dyno particles are exactly the same size, 5
micron, and the same weight. We used these
particles to test the S range for CFR. For more
information read the Marine diesel engines,
catalytic fines and a new way to ensure safe
operation, SPS booklet.
Fig.5.1. Catfines and Dyno particles
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 4 SEPARATION EFFICIENCY
42 EPS004-E-1
EPS004-E-1 43
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 5 SUMMARY
5 Summary
5.1 Optimum interface
In order to get the optimum separation result:
Water must never enter the disc stack! It
should be kept in-between the end of the top
disc and outside the disc stack. Otherwise
operational problems can result.
Use the Correct gravity disc!
Keep the disc-stack clean!
Keep the oil properties constant!
If the density or the viscosity is changed most
likely the gravity disc has to be changed too.
Keep a constant flow rate!
If the flow is changed the interface is changes
accordingly and we have to change the
gravity disc also.
Keep a constant separation temperature!
Fluctuations in the separation temperature can
move the interface inwards or outwards
depending on the change. What we actually
are changing with the temperature is the
viscosity of the oil. A little change in the
temperature can have a large impact on the
separation efficiency. Lets look at some
examples regarding temperature changes.
5.2 Temperature
If we have HFO 380cSt oil and we change the
temperature from 98C to 95C, this doesnt
sound so bad only 3C.
If we look at the change in viscosity on the oil
with a 3C change, the viscosity changes from
26cSt to 29cSt. This doesnt look like much but it
is actually a 10% change in viscosity.
If we have the same oil and change the
temperature from 98C to 90C, it still doesnt
sound like a big change,
but the viscosity is changed from 26cSt to 35cSt!
This is a 30% change in the viscosity and will
have a big impact on the separation effect.
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 5 SUMMARY
44 EPS004-E-1
5.3 Stokes law.
To sum up the effect of Stokes law;
The bigger the particles the higher the
separation effect.
The bigger the density difference the higher
the separation effect.
The higher the viscosity the lower the
separation efficiency
v
g
d
2

l
( )
18
----------------------------g =
Stokes law:
EPS004-E-1 45
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 5 SUMMARY
5.4 Separator limitations
These are the limitations and drawback with the
conventional separator system;
Purifier and clarifier in series.
Two separators in series means a rather
expensive installation compared to a single
parallel system with ALCAP separators.
Gravity disc.
As we have shown earlier in this presentation
having a separator with a gravity disc means a
lot of work to achieve the optimum separation
effect.
Maximum 600cSt and density 991kg/m limits.
Setting a limit on the oil the system can
handle, oil with this characteristics can be
more expensive.
Manual adjustment.
Having a conventional separator system
means a lot of work, every time the oils
characteristic is changed a manual
adjustment most be made on the separator.
Optimum Separation hard to achieve.
To have the separator in optimum setup all the
time is rather difficult. Even a experienced
operator have to spend a lot of time fine
adjusting the separator since the oil
characteristics change all the time.
Need of qualified attention for optimum result.
The operators have to be well educated and
experienced to operate the separator and
achieve a good separation result. This
shouldnt be a job the newest guy on board
are set to do, then the result newer will be
optimal.
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 5 SUMMARY
46 EPS004-E-1
5.4.1 Density limits
We mentioned earlier that the conventional
separator have a density limit at 991kg/m but
this only apply to separators manufactured after
1984/85. All older separators have a density
limit at 985kg/m at 15C.
The reason for this is that the refinery process
changed much in the 1980s, new methods where
introduced to remove more of the light products
from the oil and the density of the HFO became
higher. We did some changes to the bowl design
and got a new density limit at 991 kg/m.
You cant handle HFO med 991kg/m if you have
a separator before 84/85, then you have to by oil
with 985kg/m.
EPS004-E-1 47
BASIC SEPARATION THEORY 5 SUMMARY