Free-Water-Knock-Outs (FWKO) should be placed near the beginning of the process flow. This ensures downstream equipment does not have to be sized with the large water volume.
The water being heavier than the oil will sink to the bottom. The oil will move over a weir to a separate part of the tank. The water is removed from the bottom of the vessel.
Free Water Knock out Features
The internal design allows the liquid to flow at an even rate through the vessel and not channel. Free Water Knock Outs are used where the oil and water exist separately are not in an emulsion, and easy to separate.
The degree of separation depends on:
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Heater treaters can also function as a free water knockout, a heat exchanger, a filter, and as a water wash tank.
Horizontal heater treaters are used in the oil/gas industry to help facilitate oil/water separation by speeding up emulsions separation through applying heat. Heater treaters can be thought of as low pressure, three phase separators equipped with fire tubes. They separate gas from the incoming emulsion and separate the emulsion into a water phase and an oil phase.