Nature-inspired oil-water separator employed underground

The above image depicts the SurfCleaner provided two SCO 1000 hybrid skimmer oil-water separators for use in an underground wash bay at a large iron-ore mine

SCO 1000 Separator SurfCleaner provided two SCO 1000 hybrid skimmer oil-water separators for use in an underground wash bay at a large iron-ore mine

4th August 2023


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Water treatment specialist SurfCleaner has supplied its specialist water treatment technology to a large underground iron-ore mine, to treat water used in an underground wash bay.

SurfCleaner designs, develops and manufactures skimmer separator hybrids for efficient removal, separation and recovery of contaminants floating on a water surface, such as oil, diesel, petrol and floating sludge.

SurfCleaner Nordic sales manager Niklas Gedal says two of the company’s SCO 1000 devices have now been deployed at the site – within the mine’s water treatment facility, helping to drive greater operational efficiency and environmental standards, while also reducing the maintenance and management costs.

The SCO 1000 is a hybrid skimmer separator designed for oil spills and oil separation in industrial environments. It is a simple, yet effective, solution for removing a wide variety of pollution, from sheen to heavy oil, and from sludge to solids.

“Electric machines are used extensively in mining, and they require consistent cleaning, owing to a build-up of grease and hydraulic oil,” he says.

The iron-ore miner performs this task in a washing hall deep underground, where used water is transported through pipes to an American Petroleum Institute- (API-) certified oil-water separator in the mine's water treatment plant.

Gedal explains that with one of SurfCleaner’s SCO 1000 devices located in the API oil-water separator to help manage the first stage of the water treatment process, it will collect, separate and empty the oil and grease into an intermediate bulk container, 24/7.

Another SCO 1000 device is used in a second API oil-water separator further along the process, collecting thin layers of the remaining oil.

The separated oil will be pumped into a container and collected by an oil recycling company, while the purified water can be reused as process or wash water, thereby enabling the reuse of both oil and water.

SurfCleaner’s technology has essentially replaced the former oil filtration system and eliminated an entire stage of the water treatment process between the API oil-water separators. This is in comparison to the original oil filter solution, which was expensive, inconvenient and difficult to maintain.

The first SCO 1000 device will be separating about 1 m3 of oil a week, while the second device is deployed when required, removing any remaining oil from the API oil-water separator within a single day.

As such, the mine operator is able to avoid having to undertake a 800 km round trip with vacuum trucks to transport oil-damaged water to third-party treatment facilities.

“We are delighted to be actively demonstrating the benefits of SurfCleaner’s devices to the global mining sector,” says Gedal.

“This has been a fascinating project which has led to modifications to our own technology, specifically geared towards use in underground mining environments, which experience high volumes of abrasive media like sand and gravel,” he adds.

Gedal elaborates that this will include the development of protective screens which collect and reduce inflow of unwanted debris.

“We are currently delivering several more demonstration projects and, having identified major growth potential, we hope to support many more mining operators by delivering immediate cost saving, operational and environmental benefits,” he concludes.

The SCO 1000 is able to be remotely operated through smartphone or tablet, performs automatic removal and separation of oil with up to 100% separation, recover oil with a water content of less than 5%, separate up to 1 000 ℓ of pure oil an hour and be able to operate continuously with low service requirements.

Edited by Donna Slater
Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer




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