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Landfill Gas Recovery - Caterpillar 3516

Converting Waste to Energy and Eliminating Crankcase Emissions

 


The Challenge

A worldwide landfill Operator, manages a plant in southern Wisconsin. At this site, eight Caterpillar 3516 gen-sets are used to convert waste methane gas into electricity. The gen-sets are arranged in two separate buildings with four in each. The Operator uses a single fan assisted oil mist eliminator to capture the total crankcase oil mist emissions from each set of four. The existing mist eliminators are expected to capture emissions and regulate the vacuum level in each crankcase.

Over time, the blow-by from each engine increased due to normal wear and tear; therefore, the existing mist eliminators proved to be undersized to handle four machines. The results were visible oil mist emissions exhausted outside of the buildings and difficulty maintaining the required negative pressure in the crankcase. (The Operator stated that –.5” to –1” H20 is ideal)

In order to remedy the situation, the Operator decided to test a new mist eliminator on a single engine rather than four. One objective was to find a solution that was suitable for both new engines and retro-fit applications for other sites around the U.S.

A second objective was to find a product suitable for both the CAT 3516 and 3520 models, since both are commonly used.

After an initial meeting at the SWANA Waste to Energy trade show and subsequent discussions, the Operator commissioned Solberg Manufacturing to develop a solution.



The Equipment

Engine Gen-Set:
Caterpillar 3516

Total Flow Through Engine:
55 CFM (includes 27 cfm blow-by and 28 cfm filtered air through CAT breather)

Oil Challenge (Crankcase Emissions):
1000 mg/m3

Required Crankcase Vacuum:
-.5” to –1” H20



The Solution

Solberg designed a Vacuum Assisted Oil Mist Eliminator (VAE) to maintain the required level of crankcase vacuum and capture the blow-by emissions. The design was based on field experience with the CAT 3520 and additional specifications provided by the Operator.



Installation

Solberg Sales and Engineering staff visited the plant to survey the layout and provide installation advice. Custom made brackets were included with the VAE to allow for wall mounting at the plant.


System Components

Internal Air/Oil Separator Element: 99.97% efficient for 0.3 micron oil mist. Designed to eliminate visible blow-by emissions


Regenerative Blower: Creates vacuum to overcome differential pressure created by the separator element and to maintain negative pressure in the crankcase


Differential Pressure Gauge: Displays differential pressure across the separator element.


Vacuum Relief Valve: Opens to allow air into the blower if vacuum exceeds a set value


Ball Valve and Fresh Air Filter for Vacuum Control: Valve is closed to decrease fresh air flow into the blower which increases the vacuum it produces. Allows control through the life cycle of the element and engine


Pressure Relief Valve: Opens at 1” of H20 positive pressure. Protects engine seals and prevents leakage


Oil Return Drain: This drain runs to a waste bucket where used oil is collected. The oil is not returned to the crankcase due to contaminants from the landfill methane.


Results

During two subsequent visits by Solberg Sales and Engineering, the VAE functioned well. Crankcase vacuum was maintained at approximately –.75” H20. Emissions were reduced to .4 mg/m3 and there was no visible smoke.

Solberg staff will regularly visit the Operator to ensure the VAE installation works properly and to collect validation data.


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