The real cost of compressor condensate

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Are you aware of how to properly dispose compressor condensate? Because if the answer is no, you could be breaking environmental laws and risk a hefty fine!

The condensate released by your compressed air system has particles of oil in it, so tiny that they aren’t visible to the naked eye which is why it needs to be disposed of correctly.

Compressor condensate discharge: the legal stuff

To help you understand why compressor condensate needs to be responsibly disposed of, here is a quick summary of important legislation.

  • The Water Resources Act (1991) Chapter II, para 85, (1) refers to an offence of knowingly polluting controlled waters, by the disposal of poisonous, noxious or polluting matter. Compressor condensate falls within this category, and can render the polluter liable to fines of up to £20,000 or imprisonment for up to 3 months.
  • The Health and Safety Commission Statutory Instrument 1989, No 2169 covering Pressure Systems and Transportable Gas Containers makes it clear that as from 1994 all new installations should have condensate drainage points feeding into an oil/water separator prior to final discharge.
  • Finally, the British Compressed Air Society, in its publication CAC 9407 summarises the position by stating categorically that: “under no circumstances should it be permitted to discharge untreated compressed air condensate to public surface water, sewers, or to ground.”

So now you have the know-how, how can you stop your compressed air equipment catching you out? It’s time to get pro-active with your condensate management!

Compressor condensate drain

Zero loss drains are designed to remove condensate from your compressed air system, while ensuring no compressed air escapes during the removal process. This is also good for energy efficiency as you’re not having to re-compress air lost when manually draining condensate.

Oil-water separator

Check where your condensate drains are piped to as it should ideally be an oil-water separator. Approximately 99% of condensate is water, which after treatment, can legally be disposed of down the drain saving costs on waste disposal companies.

Portable and without any electronics, oil water separators supplied by Direct Air & Pipework have no moving parts meaning very little maintenance is required until a service exchange is due.

Emulsion

In addition to the above, you may also have to consider other oil-containing industrial waste-waters such as emulsion. Splitting plants enable these to be processed along with your compressed air condensate. Water-insoluble organic substances and a large variety of solid contaminations are removed from the water and any heavy metals, dirt and paint particles contained in the water are reliably adsorbed.

Following the above steps will keep your business compliant with the latest regulations regarding compressor condensate.

If you would like any further advice or information about how to implement the suggestions contact us today.