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We all need water to live. Yet everyday, thousands of gallons of used oil are drained into our waterways. Oil spills are a major threat to our lives, bringing harmful effects to all living things, including us. It can contaminate our drinking water and destroy marine habitats, affecting our food sources. Oil spills require clean up in the most efficient way, where oil can be easily and safely removed from water. This includes utilizing equipment such as oil skimmers to do the job effectively.
An oil skimmer is a device with oil-absorbing or separating capabilities that is used to remove oil floating on the surface of any liquid. They can sweep petroleum-based spills off water quickly and efficiently. They can be self-propelled, operated from vessels, or used from the shore. There are two classifications of oil skimmers: first, those that are designed to remove oil to prevent contamination and second, those oil skimmers are intended to pre-treat fluids removing oils and other substances or impurities contained in a fluid.
There are several types of oil skimmers available. These are:
Belt oil skimmers. These use a stainless steel belt, lowered in liquid, which needs to be cleaned. These belts then pass through wiper blades to remove the oil.
Disk oil skimmers. These use a disk that is rotated through a liquid. The oil is wiped off the liquid and placed into a special collection container within the skimmer. This type of skimmer is effective when the entire disk is immersed; therefore it's not advisable for shallow liquids.
Drum/ barrel style oil skimmers. Unlike the disk oil skimmer, this uses a rotating drum. These durable oil skimmers are unadvisable for use on bodies of water with fluctuating liquid levels.
Mop oil skimmers. A special type of rope picks up the oil by dipping into the liquid and removing both oil and liquid. The rope is then wrung out with pinch rollers as it goes into the drive unit.
Large tube oil skimmers. These use a plastic hose that runs over the liquid's surface and draws the oil in. Large hoses are ideal for large surface areas and mini tube oil skimmers are better used for smaller surface area.
Facilities such as oil rigs, food processing units, parking lots, outdoor ponds and industrial units where oil spills are a common occurrence need oil skimmers. They are the first response solution to a fuel or oil leak from a car or even an accidental spillage of oily substances in the park's pond. They also help in reducing the amount of bacteria in the machine or storage tanks - anaerobic bacteria thrive in oil, which also breaks down coolants and other chemicals. With the breakdown of more chemicals, companies are forced to refill these tanks faster. It is important to understand the way these oil skimmers function and which type are best for each situation to get the best results.