Why Treat Oily Air Compressor Condensate


Why Treat Oily Air Compressor Condensate

Did you know it is unlawful to drain your dirty or oily air compressor condensate directly to the sewer without first treating it for harmful contaminants?

  • The Clean Water Act of 1970 created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which is currently enforcing its regulations to maintain a safe and green environment.
  • Title 40, Part 279 of the Code of Federal Regulations dictates the Rules Governing Proper Handling and Disposal of Used Oil. These rules specify that there can be no more than 40 ppm oil in the waste water drained to sewers.
  • Some local regulations are even stricter, depending upon a municipality’s ability to treat the waste water at the local level.
  • Most oily compressor condensate contains a minimum of 300 ppm of oil, so dispensing it directly to your drain is a thing of the past, as you face large fines if your facility is inspected.

A compressed air system produces condensation, which is the moisture that drops out of a compressed air flow as it cools. This condensation will contain oil if the compressors uses lubrication in its compression chamber. These include oil-flooded rotary screw compressors and reciprocating compressors with lubricated cylinders. This oily water mixture causes an environmental concern, as there are local regulations limiting the amount of lubricants that can be drained into municipal sewer systems.

Treating condensate waste on site is simple and effective utilizing an oil/water separator.

Dirty air compressor condensate is mostly water. Expect a 50:1 ratio, 50 parts water to 1 part oil (or just 1 gallon of oil in a 55 gallon drum of condensate).

Air systems can produce an enormous amount of condensate each day. A 100 HP compressor operating in a climate of 70°F with 80% humidity generates 2 gallons of condensate each hour.