Why so Many Companies Need CentrifugesJuly 23, 2018
If you’ve watched any kind of media ad, you’ve seen that show where someone in a lab coat is peering through a microscope while their colleague wears cool neon goggles and works with a centrifuge of spinning test tubes. Or maybe you’ve seen those viral videos from amusement arcades where grown men are squealing like little girls as they ride a rollercoaster or centrifugal ride. You might even have seen the NASA antigravity simulation shots.
These tropes make for great entertainment, and there’s some accuracy to them, but they’re a world away from industrial centrifuges. They work on the same principles – spinning something at immense speeds to push solid particles towards the sides of the chamber. For astronauts and pilots, they function less as separation devices and more as speed training. So what drives the need for centrifuges in manufacturing plants?
Harvesting food by-products
We don’t think too much about the food and drink industry. We just buy our fresh items from the farmers’ market, or canned goods from the grocery store. However, manufacturing and processing these goods is quite labour-intensive. Fruits have to be pulped for juice, jam, and alcohol. Vegetables have to be washed, peeled, pickled, and boiled. Ready-to-eat food has to be cooked and canned. Preservatives have to be added.
In the process, food-grade by-products are generated. Some – like whey, cream, and ghee – are extracted, processed, and sold as individual edible products. Others are taken raw and repurposed for diverse functions. For example, vegetable starch can be used to thicken sauces, as a laundry agent, or as part of commercial adhesives. Centrifuges can be used to separate the wastewater form these solid products.
However, it isn’t enough just to part the sludge from the water. It needs to be done in a way that retains the food-grade rating of the by-product and doesn’t cause any stoppages in the manufacturing process. Using a centrifuge like a self-cleaning IC-45 is a good option. It has distinct outlets for the liquid and sludge and can auto-clean while the machine is still filtering your wastewater, establishing a continuous production cycle.
Maintaining industrial machinery
Sometimes, the centrifuge is more for the protection of your equipment than it is for your end product. Industries that use coolants, cutting fluids, and lubricants need an extra round of filtration to clean these liquids before re-use or disposal. Cleaning them stretches the duration of their use, and this is essential because the products themselves can be quite expensive. At the same time, dirty coolant damages equipment.
If your coolant has foreign particles of metal, glass, dirt, or anything abrasive, they can scrape and scratch the surfaces of the machines they’re trying to cool. Also, if the coolant is cloudy or soiled, it won’t extract the heat from your equipment as effectively. All these results could damage the end product, but they can also spoil your equipment, leaving you in need of pricey replacements and repairs.
Those repairs may need you to stop the production line, which will cost you even more money. Regularly filtering your coolant will therefore let you re-use it, but it will also keep your production equipment safer for longer, reducing the cost of machine maintenance, and allowing your manufacturing process to proceed uninterrupted.
Lowering waste disposal costs
Getting rid of waste products is expensive. If your waste is bulky, it needs larger trucks to transport it, which adds up your fuel consumption. Certain types of waste can only be released in allocated places, and these are sometimes far away from your manufacturing plant, which means you use extra fuel and you lose time driving all the way to the dump.
There are measures you can take to reduce this cost, and they involve centrifuges. By filtering wastewater, you can remove dissolved solids, turning it into a dry cake. This cake is lighter in weight and smaller in mass, so it costs less to transport it to the landfill or incinerator. Meanwhile the wastewater will have achieved safe levels of solid contamination so it can be released into the sewers without harming the environment or accruing fines and penalties.
Similarly, fuel needs to be filtered using diesel centrifuges like the OC 50. It removes bio germs like mould and algae, as well as water. These foreign particles can adulterate your oil and damage your engine. Used oils have to be filtered before disposal to avoid releasing toxins into the environment. And of course at the most basic level, oil and water need to be separated from wastewater so they can be individually and appropriately disposed.