Florida-based Enviro Voraxial Technology (EVTN) has developed an in-line, continuous-flow turbo separator that it calls the Voraxial, which is capable of separating large volumes of solids and liquids of different specific gravities without the need of a pressure drop.
The system works by using a pump to suck up the mixture that needs to be separated. The pump discharge is designed to create a powerful vortex. Centrifugal force sends the heavier components outward and toward the perimeter of the pipe, while the lighter components remain at the core of the flow.
With oil and water, for example, as the result of the vortex there is a core flow of lighter oil and an annular flow of water, which is heavier along the pipe wall. A smaller inlet pipe, downstream of the pump discharge, collects the fluid core, effectively separating the two flow components.
In the case of flows containing solids, the heavier solids accumulate at the outer edges of the flow, along the pipe wall. In that case, a specially designed manifold is used to remove the solids from this annular region.
This technology can be used in a wide variety of applications, including water cleanup from oil and gas operations, food processing, mining, wastewater treatment, uranium-extraction process water, and waste-to-energy. The standard Voraxial is rated for 250 psi and 250°F.
While primarily used in the oil and gas industry, where Voraxials have found homes on both offshore and onshore applications, separating flows up to 5,000 gallons per minute (gpm) (which can be seen in the video below), they have also been used in stormwater cleanup at the Naval Air Station in Point Mugu, Calif.
They have also seen application at the Northwest Regional Water Reclamation Facility in Hillsborough County, Fla., where the technology was successfully used to remove grit from water. The Voraxial has also been used in a marine deck drainage system to remove both grit and oil from drainage water. This demonstrates the system’s capability of separating three components simultaneously.
In some applications, a two-stage system is designed to treat wastewater streams contaminated with oil and solids. This involves using two Voraxial separators with a coalescer between them; the coalescer increases the size of oil droplets for improved separation. Behind the second separator is a polishing unit that removes any remaining oil emulsions.
The systems are compact, requiring less space and weight than most. They reportedly also use less energy, registering efficiencies well over 90 percent. They are available in ranges anywhere from 1 to 5,000 gpm. The largest unit, the Model 8000, can process up to 7 million gallons of water per day.
The Voraxial can handle unsteady flows, with variations in flow rate and concentration, without need for adjustment. It can also handle slugging flows. The patented non-clog, low-shear impeller will not emulsify oils.
EVTN, based in Fort Lauderdale, won the Manufacturer of the Year Award for the Gulf Coast region in the 2012 Oil & Gas Awards. The award is given to companies demonstrating market-leading products, outstanding services, excellent customer support, and exemplary health and safety record.
The company was also a finalist in the Wendy Schmidt X Prize competition, shown on National Geographic, which sought, in the aftermath of the BP oil spill, a technology capable of high-speed separation of oil from water while operating under water. EVTN was in the top 10 from 350 entries. It was also selected as one of the Artemis Top 50 Water Tech companies.
The Voraxial system was demonstrated last year at the Shale EnviroSafe Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans, in an oil-spill response vessel. It has also been used for water purification in both fracking and tar sands oil applications.