Oil Water Separator for your Air Compressor
Many compressors use oil as a means of lubrication and sealant as well as to keep them cool while in operation. A compressor that uses oil has another advantage as well, they typically last longer than their oil-free counterparts making them a popular choice in most workshops. However, there are additional considerations when owning an air compressor that uses oil.
The main difference you may notice is the oily water coming out when you go to drain your tank after you finished using it. That’s because compressed air holds a high volume of water vapors that when cooled, forms a liquid that is mostly water but contains about 5% oil.
This condensate that is left over and drained out of the tank contains enough oil substance that it would be unsafe and illegal in some cases to simply be poured down the drain. Failure to properly dispose of the liquid can be directly violating the Clean Water Act and certain state-specific laws.
To solve this problem, most people buy an additional filter system. Oil water separators are designed to absorb the extra oil from the condensate making it a lot easier to dispose of the liquid left after using your air compressor.
Purchasing an oil water separator for your air compressor will not only allow easy disposal of excess liquid but can also extend the life of the machine and improve its performance. Many people buy a separator for that reason alone.
How Does an Oil Water Separator function?
Every brand of oil/water separator operates a little bit differently. Most oil/water separators for air compressors use a form of adsorption, which means that it uses one material, typically a solid, to pull or trap a liquid material.
The most common oil water separator uses polypropylene fibers as the solid material to collect the oil from the liquid mixture and then filters the water using activated carbon to purify the water and making it safe to drain.
There are other types of oil water separators that use different means of extracting the oil. Separators that use chemical absorption contain a specially developed chemical that works to attract oil while repelling water at the same time.
A gravitational separator uses gravity to separate the free oils that have traveled to the top of a settling container that holds the condensate from the compressor. These separators are usually found in large water treatment plant and other industrial applications
There are also ones that use the application of Stoke’s Law which states that the increasing movement of a particle depends upon the size and density of the particle as well as the viscosity of water. In other words, it takes advantage of the fact that oil floats on water and uses agitators that cause separation through a drop-in pressure. These are classified as mechanical separators and are also found in large industrial applications
So not only will purchasing a separator help you prevent any legal trouble in the future, but it will also help with the life and performance of your compressor. Making the decision to add an oil water separator to your machine a relatively easy and necessary one.