Oil skimmers are equipment that removes oil floating on the surface of a water body. They are mostly useful in industrial operations and also where an oil spillage has occurred. There are numerous types of oil skimmers to serve different needs. The type of skimmer to use will depend on the oil thickness and the state of the water: flowing or stagnant.
These have a weir that is attached to a storage hopper and their primary purpose is to eradicate the top layer of oil from water. The extracted water/oil is then pumped out of the hopper.
Weir skimmers are inexpensive with the ability to operate in pits, rivers, tanks, lakes, lagoons, and the ocean. They are ideal for quick recovery efforts as they can recover about 300,000 litres in an hour. Weir skimmers process thick layers within a short time hence their preference in emergency situations.
Drum skimmers are manufactured with polyethylene drums that can attract oil. The drum rotates inside the water body and the oil sticks to the surface on each rotation. The oil is later scraped off and pumped out for collection. These types of skimmers perform well in situations where you only need to remove 3% of oil from water.
Drum skimmers can handle as less as 75mm of water and skim 5,000-180,000 litres in one hour. If you want to achieve maximum efficiency, you can fit steam coils on the drum to enhance oil viscosity and make it easy to pump.
The suction skimmers have the same function as a vacuum cleaner on the surface of water. The head remains on the surface through the use of a floater and suctions oil. The vacuum power on the skimmer determines the rate of recovery. The retrieved material is then pumped into a vessel or a tank onshore.
Suction skimmers work well in shallow waters like the edges of lakes or dams. They are lightweight with custom hose fittings. The skimmers are easily deployable as they can be connected to a standard pump suction or vacuum system.
Self-launching skimmers utilise disc technology in combination with a custom made launch system to enable deployment into the water. The discs collects oil in the water at an efficiency rate of 95%. The recovery rate is up to 150,000 litres in an hour. Self-launching skimmers are highly efficient, which make them suitable for cleaning up large spillages in offshore locations.
Factors to Consider When Choosing an Oil Skimmer
- Define operating conditions– Determine the conditions in which the oil skimmer will operate in order to optimize the functions and select the best skimmer. Some of the conditions to consider include liquid temperature, solution PH, solvents present and other reactive substances.
- Removal Capacity– The removal capacity of the oil skimmer is a factor you need to consider since it’s dependent on the urgency of the situation.
- Tank characteristics– Determine the tank’s shape, location and capacity. Also, it would be best if you considered changes in levels of water, probable emulsions, and turbulence.
In summary, the location of an oil spill determines the type of oil skimmer to use in recovery. Make sure you choose the right model for maximum efficiency and effectiveness in the separation of oil from water.