What is an Oil Skimmer?

An oil skimmer is a machine that is used to remove oil floating on the surface of another liquid. There are two basic options in this type of technology, one that is used for large surface areas, such as oil spills in lakes or large bodies of water like oceans, or smaller units that are designed for use in industrial applications.

The most common use for oil skimmers in industrial or processing types of applications is removing the oil from machine tool coolants or collecting oil from the surface or systems designed to clean parts and components. They are also commonly used to remove oil before the liquid is moved to chemical waste treatment systems. By removing the oil from the surface of the water or coolant, it extends the duty cycle for the liquid as well as allowing for better and more consistent performance with multiple cycles.

Additionally, the use of the oil skimmer promotes compliance with the disposal of liquids from these systems or after the duty cycle of the liquid is reached.

How does an oil skimmer work?


There are different options and designs in oil skimmers on the market. Skimmers can be designed to use a Weir method, which has the water flow over a dam type of configuration where the oil floating over the surface runs over the weir and is collected.

Other design options include a belt design, which allows a belt moved across the surface to absorb and push floating oil into a collection area and off of the surface of the liquid to be recycled.

Oleophilic systems are similar in that an oleophilic device, which is often a drum or disc, passes over the surface of the liquid. The collection device then passes through a cleaner and the collected oil is captured with very limited amounts of the liquid. A non-oleophilic system can also be used, which allows a metal skimmer to replace the rope, disc or drum.

The most efficient oil skimmers employ coalescing media. This oleophilic media attracts mechanically dispersed oil droplets causing them to float to the surface of the fluid where they are skimmed off and disposed of. The clarified fluid is returned to the process immediately.