The Freewater Knockout (FWKO) has been the basic oil field standard in oil-water separation for many years; The Performax R Matrix Plate Coalescer is an improved enhanced oil-water separator which satisfies the oil producers' desire for a simple, efficient separator. Sizing and case history information is reviewed. Results from light gravity paraffinic oils to heavy gravity asphaltic oils are detailed. The Performax Coalescer with improved oil, gas, and water quality is becoming the new industry standard for oil-water separation.
The production of water with oil continues to be a problem for the engineer and the oil producer. Since 1865 when water was coproduced producer. Since 1865 when water was coproduced with hydrocarbons, it has challenged and frustrated the industry on how to separate the valuable from the disposable. Innovation over the years has lead from the skim pit to installation of the stock tank, to the gunbarrel, to the freewater knockout, to the hay-packed coalescer and most recently to the Performax Matrix Plate Coalescer, an enhanced gravity settling separator.
The history of water treating for the most part has been sketchy and spartan. There is little part has been sketchy and spartan. There is little economic value to the produced water, and it represents an extra cost for the producer to arrange for its disposal. Today oil fields produce greater quantities of water than they produce oil. Along with greater water production are emulsions and dispersions which are more difficult to treat. The separation process becomes interlocked with a myriad of contaminants as the last drop of oil is being recovered from the reservoir.
In contrast, advances in gas-liquid separation were continuous and innovative. Wire mesh was used in the 1940's to remove entrained oil droplets. In the 1950's C-E Natco produced the first Dixon Plate Separator with marked improvements and enhanced performance. Later these were modularized as the removable Stockton box with stainless steel Dixon plates. Innovation continued with the installation of the C-E Natco Wrinkle Dimple (Crinkle) baffles and serpentine vanes which are corrugated parallel plate interceptors.
Water treatment was not without innovation. Shell patented the first parallel plate interceptor (PPI) for treatment of refinery plate interceptor (PPI) for treatment of refinery oily wastes in the mid 1950's. This was a dramatic improvement over the API Settler (pit). Shortly thereafter corrugated designs (CPI) as well as flow improvement designs were implemented such as the tube coalescer and the tilted plate interceptor (TPI). Each of these designs were for refinery applications - essentially atmospheric separation of wastes. Unfortunately, these advances did not find much acceptance in the oil patch.
In 1975, C-E Natco introduced the first Performax Coalescer to bridge the technical gap Performax Coalescer to bridge the technical gap between the refinery and producing operations. The Performax Matrix Plate design was well suited to Performax Matrix Plate design was well suited to the changing needs of the oil producers. The equipment was useful over the entire range of producing conditions, temperatures, and gravities. producing conditions, temperatures, and gravities. However, as with anything new the word was slow to spread; today the Performax is ready to establish itself as the new standard in the oil patch replacing the established freewater knockout as the primary oil-water separator.