Centrifuge for Wastewater and Sludge Dewatering

Alfa Laval Wastewater Decanter Centrifuge - New York

Table of Contents

Types of Wastewater

Wastewater is a generic term for used water with solid and or liquid contaminants. For example, municipal wastewater has organic sludge, and industrial wastewater carries industrial or inorganic sludge, etc.

Generation in large volume is the other aspect of wastewater, and therefore, the separation equipment needs to be able to process large amounts of contaminated fluid.

Wastewater from the sources, as mentioned earlier, contains bulk sludge, which is easier to separate. On the other hand, wastewater from mines and oilfield drilling operations contains fine, suspended solids requiring smaller mesh filtration or higher g-force centrifuges.

We also have industrial effluent water, which contains oil in addition to the solids or sludge. This application may need two different centrifuges to first separate the sludge and then the oil from the de-sludged water.

Separation Technologies for Wastewater

Filtration is not an option for this application, given the type and volume of wastewater that needs to be purified. Other separation technologies such as belt and filter presses have limited uses in wastewater separation duties. Again, these technologies have their drawbacks, including labor and equipment reliability issues that limit their widespread use in wastewater treatment plants.

Mechanical separation using a centrifuge has many advantages for the continuous processing of large quantities of wastewater. As with all technologies, centrifuges also have some drawbacks that we have highlighted below.

Sharples P3000 Wastewater Decanter
Sharples P3000 – 40 GPM – Wastewater Decanter

Wastewater Centrifuge Operation

A wastewater centrifuge is a separation machine that utilizes centrifugal force to separate water from heavy sludge. The sludge accumulates on the bowl periphery, which the internal auger scrapes towards the sludge discharge ports. The water flows out through the bowl’s liquid outlet at the opposite end.

Types of Wastewater Centrifuges

Three types of centrifuges apply to wastewater depending on the type and amount of sludge. The following section describes these broad categories.

Sludge Thickening or Sludge Dewatering Centrifuge

A sludge dewatering or sludge thickening centrifuge is a decanter type horizontal de-sludger that can remove water from slurries to thicken the sludge. In other words, a heavy-duty industrial centrifuge dewaters and concentrates (thickens) the sludge is also known as a sludge thickening machine. These machines are available in different sizes to process large quantities of sludge laden water continuously.

Livestock farm manure, municipal sewage, car-washes, and oilfield drilling mud produce wastewater with high sludge content up to 50%. The primary objective of such applications is to reduce the sludge volume to minimize handling and disposal costs. The recovered water is often clean enough to be reused or discharged with minimal environmental impact.

Clarifying Centrifuge for Mining Effluent

A wastewater clarifier centrifuge is a disc-stack type, high speed, self-cleaning separator that produces very high centrifugal forces that can separate micron-level suspended particles. The particles are pushed towards the bowl wall and automatically purged during the cleaning cycle. The cleared centrate discharges the bowl continuously through a centrally located outlet port.

Wastewater from mining applications is one such example. This stream contains minute silt and clay particles that are difficult to separate with a wastewater decanter. A high-speed, disc centrifuge has sufficient g-force to pull out these particles and clarify the water.

Separator for Industrial Oily WasteWater

Industrial wastewater often carries oil in addition to the sludge. This oily water is a challenge because it cannot be disposed of into standard drains. A three-phase industrial centrifuge separates the oil from the water, which can make it disposable.

Industrial cleaning fluid containing shop-floor sludge and oil from the manufacturing run-off is ideal for separation with a liquid-liquid-solid separator.

Alfa Laval Decanter Centrifuge for Vegetable Processing Wastewater
Alfa Laval Decanter – Onion Processing Wastewater

Benefits of Centrifuges

Centrifuge offers many benefits compared to other dewatering and separation technologies. A brief description of some of the advantages follows.

Reduced Transportation and Disposal Expense

Centrifuges produce dry sludge cake, which results in a significant reduction in transportation costs (up to 50%). Dry sludge also reduces disposal cost because the disposal volume is a fraction of the wet sludge.

Equipment Durability and Longevity

Industrial decanters are heavy-duty machines that have long service lives. Their material of construction (Stainless Steel) provides corrosion resistance in corrosive processing applications.

These centrifuges have superior erosion protection in critical areas for enhanced wear protection. It is not uncommon for these dewatering machines to operate for decades without the need for replacement or even significant rebuilds.

Low Operating Expense

Unlike belt and filter presses, centrifuges do not use any filter media, which is a significant benefit to these machines’ users. Also, this eliminates the labor cost related to media replacement.

The only operational expense associated with centrifuges is for maintenance. The only parts that need occasional replacement are the bearings because a decanter has fewer moving parts than filter presses.

Minimized Operator Requirements

Most sludge-thickening and dewatering centrifuges are fully automatic. The control systems have builtin sensors that have self-correcting features to allow operator-free processing.

Other methods mentioned above need manual service to replace media or perform other periodic functions.

Compact Size for Processing Capacity

Centrifuges are compact when compared to other dewatering equipment. For equivalent capacity, a decanter footprint is often a fraction of other comparable machines. This small size makes them a viable option for wastewater de-sludging in confined areas in treatment plants.

The centrifuge equipment’s compact size means that its location can be changed or moved to the worksite for ease of use and flexibility.

Wastewater Centrifuge Specifications and Sizing

Centrifuge specifications and sizing are highly dependent on the manufacturer and the customer’s capacity throughput requirements. Listed below are some specific technical details and sizes of the commonly used dewatering separators from Alfa Laval.

Dewatering Decanter Manufacturer’s Specifications

Manufacturer Alfa Laval Separator
Model NX-418-B31-G NX-314-B31-G
Rated Capacity 170 GPM 80 GPM
Capacity on Wastewater with 5% Sludge 100 GPM 40 GPM
Capacity on Wastewater with 10% Sludge 60 GPM 25 GPM
Motor Power 20 ~ 25 HP 10 ~ 15 HP
Weight 4,000 Lbs 2,500 Lbs
Size / Dimensions 3′ x 10′ x 4′ (H) 3′ x 8′ x 4′ (H)
Material of Construction (MOC) 316L Stainless Steel  316L Stainless Steel
Wear Protection – Auger Tungsten Carbide Hard Surfaced Auger Tungsten Carbide Hard Surfaced Auger
Wear Protection – Sludge Ports Stellite Bushings Stellite Bushings
Wear Protection – Inlet Feed Zone Hard Surface or Stellite Insert Hard Surface or Stellite Insert

High-Speed Disc Centrifuge for Wastewater Specifications

Fine Clay Clarification; Oily Water Separation of WasteWater

Manufacturer Alfa Laval Separator
Model WHPX-513 MOPX-205
Type Hi-Speed; Disc-Stack; Self-Cleaning
Efficiency Solids Particles down to 0.5 µ
Rated Capacity 100 GPM 20 GPM
Capacity with 5% Sludge (Max.) 80 GPM 15 GPM
Motor Power 15 HP 5 HP
Skid Weight 4,000 Lbs 2,500 Lbs
Size / Dimensions 6′ x 7′ x 7′ (H) 4′ x 5′ x 6′ (H)
Bowl Material of Construction (MOC) 316L SS w/ Some Red Metal Parts
Disc Stack Configurations 2-Phase or 3-Phase
Control System Fully Automatic PLC Based

Applications for Centrifuges in Sludge-Thickening or Dewatering

Dolphin Centrifuge has supplied industrial decanter and disc-stack clarifiers for a wide range of wastewater applications. Some of these applications are listed below.

  • Bakery Bread Mold – Wash-water

    A bakery in Texas was producing over 20,000 gallons of wash-water from bread mold washing every day. The water was contaminated with flour, bread-crust, and other organic residues. Dolphin Centrifuge pilot tested the water, recommended, and supplied an Alfa Laval NX-414 Decanter that is rated at 40 GPM on the water with light solids.

  • University Composting Leachate

    A university in California was having trouble handling abnormally high solids in the composting leachate. The leachate also carried a small amount of oil. Dolphin Centrifuge supplied a Sharples P3000 Decanter (pictured above) accompanied by an Alfa Laval WHPX510 (3-phase) oily water separator centrifuge

  • Tortilla Factory Wash-Water

    Dolphin Centrifuge supplied an Alfa Laval NX-314B-31 Decanter to thicken the flour sludge in a tortilla factory wastewater stream. Waste hauling and disposal costs were reduced by over 60% due to the compacted sludge. Separated water was clean enough for sewer discharge.

  • Small Municipal Water Treatment Plant

    A small municipality in the mid-west needed a sludge-thickener for their sewage treatment operation. Dolphin Centrifuge supplied an Alfa Laval NX-418B-31 Decanter centrifuge with Chemical Dosing attachment. Municipal sewage dewatering is a common application and the decanter works as expected to produce dry cake minimizing disposal costs.

  • Large Onion Factory – Process Water

    One of the largest onion producers in California was having issues with their organic sludge carrying wastewater disposal. Dolphin Centrifuge supplied an Alfa Laval NX-416 2-Phase Decanter centrifuge to dewater the organic sludge from the wash water. The process throughput was approximately 40 GPM with a sludge load of about 20% by volume.

  • Automotive Supplier Industrial – Wash-Water

    A Detroit based auto supplier was generating over 10,000 gallons of wash-water from floor and pit washing, every week. The wash-water carried oil in addition to the sludge. Dolphin Centrifuge supplied a 2-step water recovery system with an Alfa Laval NX-314 Decanter, followed by an Alfa Laval MOPX-207 ‘Self-Cleaning’; 3-Phase Disc-Stack Centrifuge as a polisher to remove the oil.
Disc Stack, Self-Cleaning Centrifuge for Wastewater Clarification
Disc Stack, Self-Cleaning Centrifuge for Wastewater Clarification at 80 GPM.
Wastewater Centrifuge for Food Industry
Sludge Thickener for Food Industry 40 GPM @ 15% Solids

Wastewater Centrifuge Models for Sale

Dolphin Centrifuge carries a range of Alfa Laval wastewater centrifuges in stock. The following are the various models available for the three types of wastewater centrifuges with additional options.

Dewatering Decanter Centrifuges (High Sludge Content)

Model Capacity Options Available
Alfa Laval NX 418B-31G 20 to 100 GPM Feed Pump w/ VFD Control & Torque Lock
Fluid Tank w/ Level Sensor & Pump
Sludge Auger w/ Motor & Gear Reducer
Bearing Temp. Monitoring System
Automatic Back-Drive Control System
Alfa Laval NX 314B-31G 3 to 40 GPM
Sharples P3400 20 to 100 GPM
Sharples P3000 3 to 40 GPM

Wastewater Clarifying and Purifying Centrifuges (Low Sludge Content)

WasteWater with or without Oil
Alfa Laval MOPX 213 5 to 80 GPM

Feed Pump w/ VFD Control
Sludge Tank w/ Sludge Pump
Clean Fluid Tank w/ Return Pump
Pre & Post Duplex Filters
Flow-Meter w/ Auto Pump Control

Alfa Laval MOPX 209 3 to 35 GPM
Alfa Laval MOPX 205 1 to 15 GPM