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Hobson ’84 Demystifies Oil Skimmers

Posted on Monday, September 02, 2013

M. Thomas Hobson '84 recently authored a myth-busting article about oil skimmers, tools used to remove hydrocarbons such as oil and grease from water. Hobson is currently president of Abanaki Corporation, the world's leading manufacturer of industrial oil skimmers. His article appeared in Pollution Engineering's, "PE CoffeeHaus Blog."

Among the facts Hobson states in the article is an explanation of the way belt oil skimmers work: "Oil skimming makes use of the differences in specific gravity and surface tension between oil and water. These physical characteristics allow the belt to attract grease, oil, and other hydrocarbon liquids from the surface of the fluid as the belt passes through the water. While recovery rates are important, the size of the application and skimmer should be taken into consideration for the best results."

Hobson earned a B.A. in economics from Hobart College. As a student, he was a member of the cross country team and Theta Delta Chi.

The full article follows.


Pollution Engineering
PE CoffeeHaus Blog

Oil Skimming Myths Exposed!
Tom Hobson• August 21, 2013

Oil skimmers are simple, dependable and effective tools for removing oil, grease and other hydrocarbons from water - and they usually pay for themselves within a few months. Despite these benefits, myths about oil skimmers persist.

Myth

Belt oil skimmers only pick up free-floating oil in the immediate area of the belt.

Fact

Oil skimming makes used of the differences in specific gravity and surface tension between oil and water. These physical characteristics allow the belt to attract grease, oil, and other hydrocarbon liquids from the surface of the fluid as the belt passes through the water. While recovery rates are important, the size of the application and skimmer should be taken into consideration for the best results.

Oil Skimming Tip

When selecting an oil skimmer, be sure to choose the skimmer by the size of the area being skimmed, not just by the amount of oil that needs to be removed. An oil skimmer that has the capacity to remove at least two times the capacity of oil needed to be removed should be chosen.

Myth

Tube oil skimmers snake around the surface of the liquid and go out to retrieve the oil.

Fact

Tuber skimmers are surface oil skimmers that remove floating surface oils by means of an oleophilic (oil attracting), continuous looped tube. Where the tube touches the water it breaks the surface tension and attracts the oil just like a belt oil skimmer.

Oil Skimming Tip

When sizing the tube for an application, make sure that the tube comes into contact with the coolant or water.

Myth

The action of belt oil skimmers causes turbulence forming emulsions.

Fact

The belt on an oil skimmer rotates at speeds up to a maximum of only 30 RPM. At this speed, barely a ripple can be seen when the skimmer is operating.

Oil Skimming Tip

Skimmers can struggle with emulsified oils. However, they will not cause the emulsification.

Myth

Belt oil skimmers do not collect all types of oil.

Fact

Belt oil skimmers collect all types of oil including all free floating oils, LNAPLS, DNAPLS, and some emulsifications. There are various belt materials appropriate for any type of hydrocarbon removal.

Oil Skimming Tip

There are several things to consider when choosing a belt for your oil skimmer. Some plastics won't stand up to heat or strong chemicals. Some metal belts won't skim well from coolants due to rust inhibitors being present. Certain plastic belts don't last in heated applications while others do. It is very important to choose a good oil skimmer vendor and inform them of the details of your application so they can provide assistance in choosing the proper belt material.

Myth

Tube oil skimmers have very slow oil skim rates.

Fact

The belt and tube rotate at a speed to maximize oil removal with little or no water pickup. Skimmers can remove 1 gph to 200 gph with less than 5 percent water content. The use of an Oil Concentrator can get the water content down to less than 1 percent.

Tom Hobson is president of Abanaki Corporation. He is a graduate of Hobart William Smith College in New York State. Hobson can be reached at (800) 358-SKIM or mthobson@abanaki.com.

 

 


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