Oil separators are devices that play an important but not essential role in refrigeration and compression systems. Oil separators are really useful and facilitate some of the processes that are carried out within a piece of equipment. In this post we will be talking in detail about what oil separators are, what function they perform and how important their role is within the systems in which they work.
What are oil separators?
The oil separators are made up of a small tank, inside it is made up of a series of filters made with deflector screensand valves that are they are responsible for stopping the oil when it stops through them, this oil separates from the liquid that accompanies it and falls into a separator tank where it accumulates to later be returned to the system in which it works. The main objective of this device is to keep the required parts well oiled and the rest of the system free of oil, which could cause equipment failure. It should be noted that despite the fact that oil separators are not essential devices in low capacity equipment such as those used at home. When it comes to larger capacity equipment, oil separators will be necessary to improve the way the equipment works, the absence of this device can cause damage to elements such as: the condenser, the evaporator, the filter drier or flow control device. When we evaluate the types of oil separators we find two possibilities, those designed to separate oil/coolant and those designed to separate oil/water. Everything will depend on the team where you work.
How do oil separators work?
A compressor oil separator works in the following way, when the compressor expels the refrigerant or water, this can be accompanied by oil, mixing and passing through the entire system, causing long passage failure of some elements, however the separators are located at the compressor outlet, between the discharge line and the condenser or at the compressor outlet, as the case may be. When the refrigerant containing oil passes through the oil separators, the liquid loses speed, thanks to the deflectors located in the compressor oil separator. The internal design of this device forces the liquid to re-circulate through the baffles forcing small oil particles to remain until larger particles are formed. When these oil particles become heavier, they suffer the effect of gravity and end up falling to the bottom of the separator. The refrigerant will pass through the valve inside and then pass through the outlet deflectors, to circulate in the system. The oil stored at the bottom is mixed with garbage and sediments that have been collected, the oil is separated from this garbage, likewise inside there is a metal that holds any possible metal particle present. When a certain amount of oil accumulates at the bottom, a return valve opens and thanks to the work of the compressor, it is sucked in to pass completely clean through the compressor. In addition to the oil separators, it is important to consider other aspects that can cause excessive oil output from the system, these are: the wrong choice of coolant, working temperatures and working pressure.
How to choose oil separators?
The operation of the oil separators is the same, however they are designed to adjust to different equipment, aspects such as the size of the compressor can influence the size of the oil separator, the larger it is, the larger the spacer should be. Another aspect that influences when choosing oil separators is the diameter of the liquid and discharge lines. If you do not make the right choice, the pressure or the speed at which the gas or water passes can be seriously affected and thus the ability of the separator to fulfill its function is affected. Another element that can also affect these factors is the size of the connectors, since these must fit perfectly in the equipment.
Why are oil separators important?
Whether it is a refrigeration oil separator or a compressor oil separator, this device plays an important role in the life cycle of the equipment, as mentioned before, some elements of the system can be seen affected by excessive oil lubrication, it can reach other elements that do not require lubrication, resulting in equipment failure. On an industrial scale oil separators can also be very important for the care and conservation of the environment. A compressed air system requires an oil separator, this will serve as a filter preventing not only the oil, but also the dirt particles that end up in the drainage and with it in the water sources such as rivers, lagoons, seas, etc. etc. Many companies take the condensate generated by the compressor, it is treated before being released into the environment, this work is carried out by the oil/water separators. Its function is very important, it has been proven according to some studies that a liter of oil is capable of contaminating a million liters of water, this without taking into account the fact that the oil located in the upper part of the water prevents the passage of oxygen into it, thus preventing the survival of the plants and animals that live in this environment. That is why it is so important to prevent this from being discharged into the water tributaries, thus demonstrating that oil separators, in addition to extending the useful life of the equipment, can contribute to caring for the environment. For companies it is essential to have oil and water separators, since in many countries there are regulations that prohibit water containing oil and other toxic substances from being thrown into water tributaries.