Friday, 11 February 2011

Oil Skimmers - Simple and Effective

Oil skimmers are an excellent tool in the war against petroleum based spills because everyone knows that Oil + Water = one big mess that is often very hard to clean up especially when the quantity of oil spilled is large.
The most effective, although slow way of getting oil off the top of water is by using oil skimmers. They work by using the adhesive nature of the oil to their advantage. Oil will cling to any surface that it comes into contact with, so these machines provide a never ending surface for the spilled petroleum product to cling to, clean that surface and then repeat that process continuously.
Since the process is continuous and you don't have to replace chemicals or remove soiled items, a large amount of spilled product can be recovered in a short period of time.
Oil skimmers work well in cleaning up oil and petroleum based products on water after major spill events, but for the most part they are used as a maintenance item to remove small petroleum sheens from the surface of retention ponds and tanks at manufacturing facilities that use petroleum based products in their manufacturing operations.
Oil skimmers are really simple devices that do an excellent job doing what they are designed to do. Like any other piece of equipment, it is absolutely critical that the proper size is chosen based on the area that needs to be cleaned. The manufacturers of oil skimmers can provide direction and guidance as to what the reasonable capacity each of their models can realistically provide.
Because of their simplistic nature, oil skimmers are easy to repair, maintain and clean. Any person that is skilled in maintenance of equipment should have no problem adjusting and maintaining the majority of the units that are available on the market today.
One thing you need to know is that oil skimmers work best when they are used in water that is calm such as in a pond, lake or ocean where the waves are not thrashing around. They aren't as effective in rivers or high wave conditions because the oil needs a little bit of time to adhere to the rotating surface in order to pick it up.
Most oil skimmers are driven by an electric motor that provides the power necessary to move the rotating oil collection surface, a collection tank where the oil is stored until it is emptied and a scraper that removes the oil from the collecting surface. Some advanced models have timers and other analytical devices that turn the skimmer on when they sense oil on the surface. These devices are for controlled situations where the spill or leak is intermittent and not for full scale clean up like happens when there is a major oil spill like the Exxon Valdez or the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill.
The capacity of a oil skimmers is directly related to the surface area of the collection device. The larger the area, the higher the capacity. This fact, in itself, makes it seem like oil skimmers don't work very well. When there is a major oil spill, people want it to be cleaned up fast. Oil skimmers don't work fast, the way most people see fast. They are methodical and effective but don't get in a hurry due to the nature of the product they are collecting and how they work.
The next time you are watching an oil spill being cleaned up, look for oil skimmers. They are either drums or belts that rotate slowly through the contaminated water collecting the oil as they rotate.
Bret Mundt is a mechanical engineer and industrial contractor with more than 20 years experience working in manufacturing facilities. He knows what works and what doesn't from a practical standpoint. He has the unique ability to take complicated and technical information and simplify it so anyone can understand it. You can check out the information about the best oil skimmers and which one is best for your situation.
Bret Mundt - EzineArticles Expert Author