Filtration supplier and manufacturer Filter Focus COO Craig FitzGerald reports that the 2013 South African Sugar Technologists Association (Sasta) conference, which was held at the Durban International Convention Centre, served as the ideal event for the company to showcase the benefits of its vacuum dehydrator.
FitzGerald says: “The Sasta conference brings together influential decision-makers and experts who have direct involvement in the technical aspects of the South African sugar industry. By exhibiting the company’s capabilities to all these guests in one location, I believe, Filter Focus has the potential to gain measurable market share in the local sugar industry.”
He points out that the company’s Vacuum Dehydrator can greatly assist the local sugar industry in combating the effects of emulsified, free and dissolved water in oil. “Water contamination is present in almost every sugar processing plant, and the numerous problems associated with this kind of contamination are vast.”
Water contamination in systems promotes oxidation, and can lead to failures in components such as bearings and shaft journals, as well as the jamming of mechanisms such as pilot valves, trip cylinders and hydraulic pistons, explains FitzGerald.He adds: “Additives are contained in oil to improve lubricating properties. These additives can, however, be washed out or removed by water contamination, chemically altering and leaving the oil underperforming.”
The Vacuum Dehydrator, which was developed in-house by Filter Focus in 2010, has the ability to rapidly remove all water, gases and acids from oil. “Emulsified oil, or moisture, is drawn into the system by vacuum. This provides the ideal environment to quickly and effectively evaporate dissolved water and gases.”
Further, all vapours and gases enter a condensation unit and are released into the water receiver, where cleaner and drier oil is then passed back to an oil tank. “Depending on the volume of water contamination, multiple passes will be required to achieve target dehydration levels,” he adds.
He notes that contamination directly impacts on the life span of an oil as well as that of the component in which it is operating, highlighting that all oil is to a greater or lesser degree contaminated when bought. Storage and handling practices will then determine the actual cleanliness of the oil, until put into operation.
In numerous tests, run by Filter Focus on the Vacuum Dehydrator, results have been impressive to date. FitzGerald points out that during an in-house test whereby a stand- alone tank of lubricating gear oil was purposely contaminated with water, independent oil analysis showed that the initial state of the oil had 4.7% water content, or 47 000 parts per million (ppm).
A second sample was taken after eight hours of Vacuum Dehydration was applied and showed an improvement in water contamination to only 124 ppm. After attaching a Filter Focus proprietary filtration system to the outlet of the Vacuum Dehydrator, results showed an improvement of a further reduction to 39 ppm water content, which is regarded as negligible, as this is drier than unused bulk oil supplies.