Solving Oil Water Separator Problems

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Design and Operation of a Hydroelectric Plant Oil Water Separator Refitted with High-Efficiency Separation Media

Kirby S. Mohr, P.E.
Mohr Separations Research, Inc.
Lewisville, TX  

Stephen L. Sembritzky
Mechanical Engineer
Chelan County Public Utility District
Wenatchee, Washington USA

A paper presented at Hydrovision International 2013 conference,
Denver, Colorado, July 2013


The Chelan Public Utilities District (PUD) facility at Rock Island dam was provided with two identical oil water separators for treating wastewater in 1992. They were provided with a type of media that was originally designed for sanitary sewer plant trickling filters and is not optimized for oil water separation. In 2011, the PUD installed new high-efficiency oil water separator media in one of the separators.

The paper will describe the engineering process used to determine the amount and configuration of media ideal for the separator, modifications to the media holding device to accommodate the new media, and installation of the media.

The media has been in service for more than a year and the paper will also describe the results of operation of the separator with the new media in contrast with the identical separator operating with the old-style media. The retrofit was easy and has proved to be very successful. Oil removal with the new media is much better as evidenced by the much greater amount of oil captured by the separator with the new media versus the separator with the old media.