Oil and water don’t mix, but in industrial situations, they often end up together. Since they are not intended to stay together, blending water and oil can do immense damage to equipment and greatly interfere with the manufacturing process. Skimming oil is an ideal way to get rid of this oil and separate it from the water.
In non-industrial circumstances, oil is seen as a pollutant. This is especially true in instances where ships or pipes spill oil into the ocean, harming sea life and damaging waterways. In other cases, oil finds its way into rivers, dams, fresh-water channels, and underground water tables. This oil not only harms living organisms, it also makes the water unfit for human use.
Oil prevents oxygen from getting into the water, which kills water-borne animals. It can also interfere with the free flow of water, making it dank and stagnant. This type of water soon starts to smell, and it can attract harmful micro-organisms and lead to the spread of virulent diseases.
Back in the world of machines and technology, many industrial activities use both oil and water. Equipment that uses liquids for processing often uses oil to lubricate the machine parts and keep that same equipment running smoothly. Some of the oil can seep into the water and some of it can end up on the floor.
Getting rid of spills from the ground can be tedious and messy, so using a spill kit is helpful. This is a sheet of highly absorbent material that can be placed beneath machines to catch any overflow. Certain types of absorbent spill kits can contain up to 3 litres of oil for every square metre of material. Once they are done, the spill kit can simply be picked up and disposed of.
When the oil spill occurs on a liquid surface, it needs to be skimmed off using a skimming machine. Sometimes, skimming is done to clean the water, so that it can either be re-used or safely recycled. Other times, the oil itself is valuable, so it needs to be skimmed and harvested for use. Manufacturing processes that require regular skimming include commercial food preparation, steel work, biodiesel refinery, and trucking.
Waste water treatment is also a big user of the skimming process. Waste water is sometimes released into public sewer systems, though it can also be recycled for irrigation, commercial cleaning, and other purposes. This water needs to be completely free of oil and grease since both will interfere with further water use. Skimming is, therefore, a key step in the waste filtration routine.
Sometimes, water is an integral part of the manufacturing cycle. It can be used externally, to cool machines that heat up during use, or to clean them after use. Water can also be used internally. In such cases, the getting rid of any oil or grease residue will improve the quality of the finished product. This is especially the case during food and beverage processing, where any greasy contaminant will greatly compromise the finished product.
As we mentioned earlier, there are cases where the grease has intrinsic value. A good example of this is in milk processing, where the floating cream is collected and used to make cheese, ghee, butter, or other milk by-products. In such cases, the skimming process is particularly intricate for two reasons. One, oily milk is unpalatable and has a low market value. And two, the oil itself will be converted into premium products that offer an even higher profit than the milk.
We have already mentioned that skimming is helpful to the environment since it prevents damage to soil, waterways, fish, and animals. Skimming also protects the machines that are used to treat water. Grease and oil build-up on machine parts can lead to diminished function and increased wear-and-tear. Getting the oil off these machine parts is expensive and labour-intensive. Skimming it off before loading the water into your machinery will greatly reduce maintenance costs and increase the longevity of your machinery.
Oil skimming is an important step in any industrial process. It protects the environment, prevents damage to living organisms, increases machine efficiency, raises the quality of finished products and cuts down maintenance costs. Be sure to use the right tools and equipment to keep all your manufacturing liquids oil-free.