ACQUA has an active Research
and Development (R&D) program headed by the original inventor
of the separation technologies, Mr Neville Clarke (Clarke). The
genesis of the idea to develop separation technologies came from
Clarke's 15 years of experience in the oil and gas industry with
Esso Australia, and in particular while managing Esso's offshore
oil platforms in Bass Strait.
R&D activities conducted
by Clarke for ACQUA, began in 1993 with the initial objective of
developing a more efficient hydrocyclone for use as an oil water
separator in the oil and gas industry, particularly offshore.
The Vertical Gravity Separator
(VGS*) was initially developed to handle hydrocyclone (centrifugal
sedimentation) reject flow, predominately water with small amounts
of oil, in general applications. These reject flows created water
handling problems in service stations and general industrial applications,
due to imposed fines and charges for the removal of contaminated
oil and water.
During 1994/95, the VGS* was
developed as a stand-alone unit to handle oil/water effluent, directly
competing with Cross Plate Interceptors (CPI) and Enhanced Triple
Plate Interceptors (ETPI). The first test unit was installed at
a Shell Service Station in Oyster Bay, NSW, Australia. From test
results obtained over a 2 month period it was evident that the VGS*
was a viable technology in its own right.
Problems with solids and debris
in the effluent stream became a major stumbling block until a range
of Liquid Skimmers (Skimmer*) was developed. The Skimmer* needed
to be low cost, small in size, lightweight and able to handle solids
and debris that would block traditional skimmers; eg. floating grass,
leaves, paper and plastic items.
In mid 1994, a test program
was undertaken with Shell (Australia) at their Newport Distribution
Terminal in Victoria, Australia. The task was to remove free oil
from existing Triple Interceptor (TIT) pits and ponds, and to enhance
the first flush and clean water phases for discharge to sewer and
stormwater. The first polyethylene bodied VGS* was installed at
Shell Newport and it soon became obvious that the performance of
the VGS* improved dramatically when superior oleophilic construction
materials were used.
By November 1995, six test units
were operating at Shell Newport and subsequently, Shell ordered
and installed 11 VGS* and Skimmer* systems to replace existing CPI's
at their Distribution Terminal.
After an initial 12 month test
period, at various locations as requested by the Sydney Water Board,
the VGS* was approved by the Sydney Water Board for commercial use.
While product development has
continued on the standard VGS*, the initial R&D program for
this product was basically completed during 1997. The Skimmer* was
developed in conjunction with the VGS*.
The development of the IC-SEP*
and CycloVap* technologies occurred from 1997 onwards, to address
specific industry needs that had been identified during tests and
trials of the VGS* and the ISG* hydrocyclone.