Marine Oil Purifier’s Bowl Assembly: Causes of Failure, Maintenance, and Troubleshooting

Marine oil purifier bowl is a vital component of a centrifugal purifier that is used to separate water and solid impurities from fuel oil or lube oil on board ships. The purifier bowl is a kind of  container that rotates at a high speed and creates a centrifugal force that pushes the heavier water and solids to the periphery, while the lighter oil remains in the center. The purified oil is then discharged through a paring disc, while the water and solids are collected in the sludge space of the bowl.

The purpose of marine oil purifier bowl is to ensure the quality and efficiency of the fuel oil or lube oil used by the ship’s engines and other machinery. By removing water and solids from the oil, the purifier bowl prevents corrosion, wear, clogging, and damage to the engine components. It also reduces fuel consumption, emissions, and maintenance costs.

If you want to read and learn more about oil purifiers please follow THIS LINK.

Operation of marine oil purifier’s bowl

The operation of marine oil purifier bowl involves several steps:

    • The oil to be purified is heated to a suitable temperature and fed into the purifier bowl through a feed pipe.
    • The purifier bowl rotates at a high speed (up to 10,000 rpm) and creates a centrifugal force that separates the oil from the water and solids based on their density difference.
    • The purified oil flows to the center of the bowl and is discharged through a paring disc, which is a conical device that skims off the oil from the surface.
    • The water and solids accumulate in the sludge space of the bowl and are periodically discharged through an automatic or manual valve.
    • The purifier bowl is equipped with a gravity disc or a clarifier disc, depending on whether it is used as a purifier or a clarifier. A purifier separates both water and solids from the oil, while a clarifier only separates solids from the oil. A gravity disc has two holes: one for water and one for oil. A clarifier disc has only one hole for oil.

Maintenance of marine oil purifier’s bowl

The maintenance of marine oil purifier bowl is essential to ensure its proper functioning and performance. The maintenance tasks include:

    • Cleaning the purifier bowl regularly to remove any sludge or deposits that may affect its efficiency or cause imbalance.

      Example of large amount of sludge accumulated inside purifier bowl

    • Checking the condition of the bearings, seals, gaskets, springs, discs, valves, and other parts of the purifier bowl and replacing them if necessary.

      Purifier bowl cleaning and overhauling

    • Lubricating the bearings and other moving parts of the purifier bowl with suitable grease or oil.
    • Calibrating the purifier bowl according to the manufacturer’s specifications and adjusting the speed, temperature, pressure, and flow rate as required.
    • Testing the purifier bowl for leaks, vibrations, noise, or any other abnormalities and rectifying them promptly.

Marine oil purifier’s bowl failure troubleshooting

The troubleshooting of marine oil purifier bowl is important to identify and resolve any problems or faults that may occur during its operation. Some common problems and their possible causes and remedies are:

    • Low purification efficiency: This may be caused by incorrect gravity disc size, improper feed temperature or flow rate, worn or damaged discs or valves, excessive sludge accumulation, or air ingress. The remedy is to select the correct gravity disc size, adjust the feed temperature or flow rate, replace or repair the discs or valves, clean the sludge space, or vent out the air.
    • High vibration or noise: This may be caused by imbalance of the purifier bowl, loose or broken parts, misalignment of the drive shaft or motor, or faulty bearings. The remedy is to balance the purifier bowl, tighten or replace the parts, align the drive shaft or motor, or replace the bearings.
    • Oil leakage: Bowl leaking in marine oil purifiers can occur due to several reasons. Some of the main causes include:
        • Bowl Gasket Failure: The bowl of the oil purifier is sealed with a gasket to prevent leakage. If this gasket becomes worn out, damaged, or improperly installed, it can lead to oil leaking from the bowl.
        • Bowl Cracks: Over time, the bowl of the purifier may develop cracks due to wear and tear, corrosion, or improper handling. These cracks can result in oil seepage.
        • Bowl Seal Groove Damage: The seal groove in the bowl where the gasket sits can get damaged due to mishandling or prolonged use, leading to a compromised seal and eventual leakage.
        • Bowl Misalignment: Improper installation or misalignment of the bowl with the other components of the purifier can create gaps and openings that cause oil to leak.
        • High Vibration: Marine engines and machinery are subjected to high levels of vibration during operation. Excessive vibration can weaken the bowl’s integrity, leading to leaks.
        • Overpressure: If the oil purifier experiences an unexpected increase in pressure beyond its design limits, it can cause the bowl’s seals to deform or crack, resulting in oil leakage.
        • Inadequate Maintenance: Regular maintenance and inspections are essential to identify and address potential issues before they escalate into major problems. Lack of proper maintenance can lead to the development of leak-prone conditions.
        • Poor Quality or Contaminated Oil: Low-quality or contaminated oil may contain abrasive particles or corrosive substances that can cause accelerated wear and tear on the bowl’s surfaces, increasing the risk of leakage.
        • Age and Wear: As the oil purifier ages, its components may wear out, including the bowl material and gaskets, making them more susceptible to leakage.

To prevent bowl failure, it is crucial to follow the manufacturer’s maintenance guidelines, conduct regular inspections, use high-quality replacement parts, and ensure proper installation and alignment. Additionally, monitoring the purifier’s operating parameters and keeping the oil clean and free from contaminants can also help prolong the equipment’s life and reduce the risk of leaks.

Marine oil purifier bowl failure can have serious consequences for the ship’s engines and machinery. Therefore, it is essential to monitor its operation regularly and perform preventive maintenance and troubleshooting as needed. By doing so, you can ensure the quality and efficiency of your fuel oil or lube oil and extend the life span of your equipment.

If you have any questions regarding above, please feel free to use our existing forum Seafarer’s World, Telegram Chief Engineer’s Log Chat or Instagram and will try to answer to all your queries. You can use the feedback button as well!

If you like my posts, please don’t forget to press Like and Share. You can also Subscribe to this blog and you will be informed every time when a new article is published.

Also you can buy me a coffee by donating to this website, so I will have the fuel I need to keep producing great content! Thank you!


Source and credit: Video animation – Alfa Laval

Please feel free to leave a reply!