Oil Skimmers Inc., Solves Environmental Concerns for Heavy Equipment, Maintenance and Washdown Facilities – Reprinted from Food Processing
Beckwith Machinery Company of Murraysville, Pennsylvania, is one of the largest Caterpillar dealers in America, with 11 sales, service and manufacturing facilities in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Beckwith’s Cranberry, Pennsylvania facility also has a large rental business. When the machines are returned, many are loaded with mud, grease and oil. The mud can be removed simply by washing the machine, but the grease and oil are another matter.
Federal and local Environmental Protection Agency regulations require that water returned to its original source be free of commercial contaminants. The dilemma facing Beckwith: how to economically remove grease and oil from the water used to clean equipment so it can be safely returned to the Cranberry Township sewer system.
Washing is the first step of the cleaning process. The water used to wash the truck goes into a holding tank where mud and other debris are removed. The mud and debris, with oil clinging to them, are placed in a plastic-lined trash container and taken to a landfill.
“The second step required a bit more thought,” says Tom Fitzsimmons, plant superintendent for the Cranberry facility. “We had to make sure the uncollected oil that remained behind in the first holding tank was removed from the water as it moved into the second holding tank so it could then safely go back into the sewer system.”
That’s where the Oil Skimmers Inc.’s waste oil recovery system came in. The Oil Skimmer is designed to remove petroleum – based oils, animal and vegetable fats, greases and oil wastes floating on water. It comes in two models. The Model 6V, designed for larger projects, can remove 100 gallons of oil per hour. The Model 5H is designed for cramped, congested or tightly confined areas. Beckwith purchased a Model 6V Oil Skimmer mounted on a 60-inch frame.
The company uses the Oil Skimmer at the second holding tank to remove the floating oil using a 28-foot-long polyurethane collector tube. Oil adheres to the outside of the closed loop tube, which is drawn through scrapers to remove the oil. The recovered oil is collected in a 55-gallon drum. The clean tube is returned to the water to collect more oil. The collected oil is recycled, and the clean water from the tank is released into the sewer system. Each month Beckwith retrieves about 465 gallons of recyclable oil.
The Oil Skimmer Model 6V can run 24 hours a day, and withstand temperatures up to 200 degrees and well below freezing. The Model 6V has been used in bus garages and military vehicle washdown facilities. It has also been utilized in maintenance and cleaning facilities for buses, mining equipment, bulk transportation tankers, and airplane and railway engines. The polyurethane tube can be sized to specification.
“We’ve run the oil skimmer eight to 16 hours a day since it was installed in 1995 and we’ve never had a breakdown,” says Fitzsimmons.
Tim Ruch, head mechanic at Viessman Trucking in Mankato, MN, knew that oily sludge was a problem – specifically, the oily sludge in wastewater from cleaning out the company’s tanker trucks. Meeting municipal regulations for wastewater effluent involved numerous chemicals, equipment and labor hours. However, after purchasing a fully automatic oil skimmer from Oil Skimmers Inc. of Cleveland, the trucking firm now meets its effluent regulations more efficiently, using less chemicals and with less oversight.
As head mechanic, Ruch is charged with maintaining a fleet that includes 250 tankers, 35 of which are devoted to hauling soybean oil. It’s Ruch’s job to make sure the tanker trucks are cleaned out thoroughly after transporting material. Often, residual sludge must be removed from 15,000-pound stainless steel semi-tankers after hauling 48,000 pounds of consumergrade soybean oil. After the crew washes the inside of the tanker, the wastewater requires processing before it can be discharged to the City of Mankato sewer system.
To help remedy this situation, Ruch wanted an oil skimmer system that would more efficiently remove unwanted oil before the wastewater was processed through the facility’s dissolved air flotation (DAF) unit. He purchased the company’s first skimmer from Oil Skimmers Inc., in 1999, has purchased two skimmers since then and plans to buy another.
The heart of this oil skimming system is a polyurethane closed-loop tube, which circulates on the water’s surface and attracts oil as it floats, automatically adjusting to changing water levels. As the oil-covered tube passes through scrapers to be cleaned of oil, it automatically returns to the water’s surface to collect more oil. The recovered oil, which is virtually water free, flows into a collection vessel.
The water-free recovered oil also has reduced Ruch’s disposal costs. “The oil skimmers we presently own have saved us enough time and money to more than pay for their cost,” he says, noting that purchasing the oil skimmers has simplified his primary goal of meeting municipal regulations for recycling wastewater.
“Knowing that we satisfy the municipality takes a big load off my shoulders;’ Ruch says. “That fact alone makes purchasing the oil skimmers one of our best long-term investments!
Previously, before installing the Model 5H oil skimmer, a maintenance crew sprayed water mixed with a non-toxic chemical into the trailers to clean out the residual oil. The oil-infused water was collected in holding tanks, and the crew then manually skimmed oil from the holding tank. The DAF unit was used with a flocking agent to break up the remaining oil and bring the residuals to the top of the water. The DAF unit then removed the remaining sludge from the water.
“I appreciate that municipal guidelines for wastewater are strict,” says Ruch. “However, it costs us money to bring our wastewater up to standards for recycling back into the system. Add those costs to the increased cost of fuel to run the tankers, plus the normal cost of doing business, and I figured there had to be a better way.”
According to Ruch, the DAF unit works well, but is expensive to operate and maintain. “Before purchasing the oil skimmer, we would put in a lot of hours to manually skim the oil from holding tanks before using the DAF unit,” Ruch says.
The oil skimmer has eliminated the process of manually collecting sludge from the wastewater.
“Then we had to add a lot of flocking agent in the DAF unit to break up the oil, which also raises the cost of operation.”
The oil skimmer has eliminated the process of manually collecting sludge from the wastewater. This allows the DAF unit to refine the wastewater more efficiently, using a smaller amount of chemicals.
“There’s little or no maintenance or upkeep with the Model 5H because there are few moving parts,” Ruch notes. “We can let it run day and night, and occasionally look to see that the container holding the skimmed oil is not overflowing.’
The fully automatic Model 5H offers rugged construction and few moving parts, which contributes to continuous operation with minimal wear and tear. Ken Gray, Oil Skimmers sales manager, western region, notes that in some cases, models purchased more than 25 years ago are still operating today.
Food Express, Inc. has been specializing in the transport of food-grade products for 27 years, and they pride themselves on providing the best customer service in the business. With several locations and equipment stationed throughout the Northwest, they have the flexibility needed to meet the needs of bulk-product shippers throughout the United States.
While searching the web for solutions to the recovery of his waste oil, Food Express President Walt Keeney came across Oil Skimmers, Inc., a company that has been manufacturing floating tube-type oil skimmers for over 40 years. Mr. Keeney was familiar with wastewater treatment and knew that an oil skimming system from Oil Skimmers, Inc. could be the perfect solution.
These cost-efficient and effective oil skimmers have a specially formulated, closed-loop tube that floats on the surface of liquid and attracts oil, which adheres to the outside of the tube. The oil-covered tube is continuously drawn up into the skimmer, where scrapers remove the waste oil, which drains into a containment drum or other vessel. Oil skimming systems, such as the Model 6V or the Model 5H from Oil Skimmers, Inc., can be customized to meet customer specifications, including mounting systems for all types of sumps, ponds, or tanks. Portable oil skimming systems are also available.
Mr. Keeney designed and built his own aluminum separation and holding tank, which has a capacity of 2,500 gallons, and attached a Model 5H Oil Skimmer using a pre-fabricated mounting system created by Oil Skimmers. The skimmer removes about 200 gallons of oil per week, but this amount varies based on the number of oil tankers that they service. The solid waste is also removed from the tank, after it settles to the bottom.
“It’s an excellent piece of equipment as far as we’re concerned,” Mr. Keeney says of the Model 5H Oil Skimmer. After the installation, “the waste stream has an almost non-detect when we do analysis, which means there is no detectable oil in the water, even when we run hard all day doing oil tankers and dry bulk flour and starch trailers.”
An additional benefit is the revenue that Food Express makes by recycling the recovered oil and selling it to a farmer who works in the biodiesel industry. This also saves the oil from ending up in a landfill, which allows Food Express to have a more environmentally friendly operation.
Mr. Keeney called the Model 5H Oil Skimmer a perfect solution for his company’s waste oil removal.
“We’re happy, the City of Vancouver is happy – it’s a win-win situation.”
No matter what your application needs, Oil Skimmers, Inc. has a system that will manage all your waste oil recovery efforts. Call or contact us today, and we’ll find the right system for you.