Emulsified Oil Filtration
A. Definition of Terms
1. Emulsified Oil
An oil in water emulsion is defined as a colloidal suspension of
a liquid within another liquid. A colloidal suspension is a concentration
of particles or droplets
homogeneously dispersed through the carrier liquid (water). This occurs
when the oil droplets are reduced in size to 20 microns in diameter
At this size, the oil’s normal electrical repulsion of the
water molecule is overcome due to it’s minute size.
Oil in water emulsions may contain a variety of oil types and concentrations,
as well as various types of solids contaminants. The oil in water emulsion
is maintained through mechanical and/or chemical means.
2. Free Oil
Free oil are those droplets that are larger than 20 microns in diameter.
They display a distinct phase difference and float in water in accordance
B. Emulsions are created in two ways:
1. Mechanical emulsions: In mechanical emulsions, a common method of creating
the emulsion is by violent mixing or shearing of the oil droplet in the waste
stream with a high shear transfer pump, vigorous mixer, pressure washer or
other device that might disperse the oil droplets into minute droplets. Given
enough time, the mechanical emulsion may break without any treatment. But with
most processes and manufacturing time frames, this may be too long for practical
2. Chemical emulsions: Chemical emulsions are created when a surface-active
chemical or chemicals are used, such as alkaline cleaners containing surfactants,
soaps and detergents having ionic or non-ionic characteristics. These chemicals
interfere with the natural coalescing of oil droplets and generally creates
a permanently stabilized emulsion with little chance of breaking by itself.