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Space craft

Downsizing an oil-water separator

When sailing on the high seas, you won’t get far without an oil-water separator — especially in light of increasingly strict environmental regulations. However, with limited space on board, a compact design is vital — particularly for smaller vessels.

Separating water and oil: It sounds like a fairly straightforward task that leaves little room for innovation. But in recent decades, there has been more progress than you might think. One example of this is the Turbulo Mechanical Phase Breaker (TMPB). Developed by SKF, this oil-water separator does not require pneumatic control systems but is simply operated by electricity.

What’s more, the TMPB functions without freshwater. To prevent the pump from dry-running, other oil-water separators typically require a small amount of freshwater to be added to the pump inlet to protect the pump stator. This, of course, adds to the load that the ship operator has to carry.

For special requirements

The TMPB has been in use around the world for many years. But there are ship operators who simply do not have the space to accommodate even the smallest size with a pump flow rate of 0.25 m3/h.

For this reason, operators of yachts, fishing trawlers, and also larger vessels with limited space are looking for smaller solutions that fulfil the requirements of the IMO resolution MEPC.107(49).

From a specialist solution to official product

When the SKF design team heard about the specific requirements of a customer, it needed to find a high-quality solution quickly. The team is familiar with jobs like this, where special requests need to be fulfilled. Time and time again, standard solutions need to be adapted to specific conditions, such as for vessels that operate only in arctic regions.

The compact version of the TMPB is still only a one-off—but it will soon become an official product.

However, there were certain rules to follow when downsizing the Turbulo Mechanical Phase Breaker. As the oil-water separator is certified, there were restrictions on the modifications that could be made without having to go through the certification process again.

The engineers successfully managed to integrate the existing technology into a more compact model within just three months. In this way, a new product was born: TMPB Compact.

In the second quarter of 2017, the system will be installed and go into operation for the very first time. But as the demand for smaller systems increases, this custom-made product will not remain a one-off for long.

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