Choosing an oil water separator

Digital360 on 23 August 2017

The problem of choosing an oil water separator

Choosing an oil water separator for your specific application can be intimidating. Different technologies of oil water separation are more suited to some industries than others. Purchasing costs of an oil water separator can range from $2,500 to over $1 million depending on the specifications. Operating costs and amount of maintenance intervention also differ widely. The most efficient separators reduce oil content to less than 5 ppm, while others are only capable of lowering the oil content to 50 ppm.

How do you ensure compliance with environmental regulations for your industry, while optimising your capital expense and operating costs? How do you avoid investing in the wrong technology and exposing yourself to an expensive retrofit?

Different types of oil water separators

Coalescing Plate Separators have plates made from material that attracts oil, and separate it from the water. Many plates are stacked on top of each other to increase the oil removal capacity.

Vertical Gravity Separators (VGS) have internal cones made of material that attracts oil. Small oil droplets form on the cones and then enlarge as more and more oil is collected, before eventually floating to the surface.

Hydrocyclone Separators use cyclones to create a spiral flow through the separator. The centrifugal force causes heavier water molecules to separate from lighter oil particles.

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Cost breakdown for oil water separators

Each type of oil water separator is suited for different applications and industries. Experts in the field are able to provide professional advice about which oil water separator may be most suited to your needs.

TechnologyFlow rateApplicable industriesPrice starting from

Coalescing/VGS

1000 l/hr

Workshop, Small car wash, Vehicle wash-down, Service station

$2,500 + GST

Coalescing/VGS

3000 l/hr

Medium workshop, Mining, Medium car wash, Quarantine, Transport

$6,000 + GST

Coalescing/VGS

5,000 - 10,000 l/hr

Mining, Large workshop, Large car wash, Quarantine, Industrial equipment

$15,000-$30,000 + GST

Coalescing/VGS

10,000 l/hr +

Mining, Large workshop, Large car wash, Quarantine, Industrial equipment

$30,000-$300,000 + GST

Hydrocyclone

3000 l/hr

Medium workshop, Mining, Medium car wash, Quarantine, Transport

$20,000 - $30,000 + GST

Hydrocyclone

5,000 - 10,000 l/hr

Mining, Large workshop, Large car wash, Quarantine, Industrial equipment

$35,000 - $100,000 + GST

Hydrocyclone

10,000 l/hr

Mining, Large workshop

$80,000-$120,000 + GST

Hydrocyclone

25,000 l/hr +

Mining, Large workshop

$200,000 - $1m +

Note pricing is a guide only, please contact Cleanawater directly for an accurate quote.

Checklist for choosing the best oil water separator for your application

It is important to enlist professional input when choosing an oil water separator for your specific application. Many factors must be taken into account to determine which technology will work best and it is important to note that some oil water separators may not work at all in particular industries. If a mistake is made, it is typically very expensive to retrofit a different technology oil water separator. Some of the factors to take into account are:

  • Influent water quality
  • Specific industry
  • Is further downstream water treatment required?
  • What level of hydrocarbons is in the water and which types (C6 to C36)?
  • Are there levels of emulsion in the water?

What are the benefits of cheap oil water separators?

Cheap oil water separators are mainly used in applications where the water flow is small or intermittent. The major purpose of the separator is to ensure regulatory compliance rather than handle significant separation requirements. The intermittent nature of operation is less conducive to automated systems and can require regular human intervention.

What are the advantages of more expensive separators?

More expensive oil water separators are able to treat more complex influent water properties. They can handle higher flow rates and a wider variety of oil types present in the water including some emulsions. This equipment tends to have more sophisticated control systems, with automation of main functions. Operator alarms and alerts ensure corrective action can be taken before an incident occurs (e.g. An oil spike in the effluent or a breakdown in operation). They are also more reliable and require less maintenance interventions than cheaper oil water separators.

Contact Cleanawater for more information about oil water separators

We can combine our solutions to suit your specific business, compliance and investment requirements. Call our expert team on 1800 353 788 today to arrange a consultation for your oil water separator needs and to make sure you keep compliant with regulations.