Turning Waste into Value Streams using Three Phase Separation
BY KEVIN BELL, CEO AND OWNER, GTECH
In today’s environment, leading businesses are incorporating smart, sustainable processes to make the most of the resources they use, while conserving precious natural assets. It’s never been more important to make the most of our limited resources. From water, to oil, to food, a focus on reducing waste, recovering valuable materials, and maximizing everything we use introduces new value opportunities and increased efficiency to a wide range of industrial, wastewater, oil and gas, and food byproduct industries.
Applying three phase separation can quickly transform a business’s commercial footprint by taking a costly waste stream and splitting it into three separate and individual phases. As illustrated in the diagram the waste product is fed into the decanter through a proprietary feed zone. This helps separation quality and with the use of tungsten carbide throughout the machine maintenance costs are reduced significantly. The light phase is pumped via a fully adjustable paring pump whilst the heavy phase is discharged by gravity. Solids are conveyed with a high-torque hydraulic drive system which helps maintain dry solids. Depending on the initial waste stream, the make-up of the ensuing three separate phases will drive the value opportunity.
A good example of the value opportunity created by three-phase technology sits within the Oil and Gas Industry. The variable price of oil and gas, global supply insecurity and increasingly arduous environmental regulations are making recovered oil an extremely valuable resource. With higher per barrel oil prices, being able to process and recycle residues containing oil greatly improves the value companies can offer to their service customers or capture for themselves.
In today’s environment, the cost to dispose of tank sludge is a significant expense which includes transportation. Using a skid system with an Echo 4 decanter, one operator has been able to extract WTI crude to meet the BSW spec. In addition to the top-line value stream created by extracting WTI crude from this waste stream, this operator has found other advantages and cost reductions.
Maintaining a consistent and constant operational flow of the waste stream is another benefit of three phase separation. The operator also leverages a fully variable paring pump for the light phase. This on-the-fly adjustment optimizes operations and maximizes their uptime because the centrifuge doesn’t have to be powered down to make such optimizing adjustments, which can lose valuable processing hours to come back online. Paired with high level software and in-house designed and assembled panels, this West Texas operator has established a benchmark for crude oil reclamation.
Depending on your operation and the application of three phase technology, there are other benefits to the bottom line. The utilization of on-site skids can reduce transportation costs and can improve the business’ carbon footprint, and any ensuing carbon credits/offsets may also drive additional value for your industrial operations. Of course, results vary based on application conditions and processes, but anytime a cost is converted into revenue, the results are irrefutable.