Performance Evaluation of Helical Separators Applied to Olive Oil–Water Two-Phase Flows at Low Reynolds Numbers
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One of the unit operations involved in the production of olive oil is the separation of liquid–liquid systems (and other multiphase flows) in their fundamental phases. The use of helical separators could be an alternative to be considered for that task in order to reduce energy consumption and improve the quality of products in olive oil mills (‘almazaras’). In this work, four models of helical separators have been built and tested in order to manage olive oil and water two-phase flows (with olive oil as the majority phase). Separation yields were analyzed from a dimensional analysis perspective, considering variables such as density and viscosity, flow rate, head losses, or the water concentration in the flows studied. The best separation yields (of the order of 80% to 100%) were obtained for olive oil–water two-phase flows in which the water concentrations could be higher, in some cases, than 5–10% for Reynolds numbers of below 60.