Electrical utility transformer substations play a crucial role in ensuring reliable power distribution, but they also present a risk of oil leaks and spills that can contaminate the environment. Oil is used as a cooling and insulation medium, but can leak through faulty seals and gaskets, corrosion, mechanical defects, or over pressurization, among other causes. When an oil leak occurs, effective methods for separating oil from water in transformer substation berms are essential to mitigate these environmental risks. In this case study, we explore the development and implementation of an innovative multi-layer composite solution to address that essential need.
The challenge presented was to establish an efficient method for encapsulating 20 ounces per square yard of an oleophilic/hydrophobic polymer powder between needle-punched nonwoven layers, while ensuring a flow rate of greater than 10 gallons per square meter per minute. It was essential to create a durable bond that would not negatively impact the polymer’s ability to filter water and capture hydrocarbons.
The Shawmut technical engineering team first identified an appropriate thermoplastic polyester adhesive and carefully blended it within the oleophilic/hydrophobic polymer powder at a ratio that achieved the optimal bond and performance of the polymer. This adhesive blend served as a critical component in ensuring the durability and effectiveness of the final composite.
Secondly, the technical team then engineered a precise lamination process methodology that allowed for the uniform dispersion of the blended adhesive and polymer. This method not only facilitated the bonding process but also provided for an optimum flow rate of water through the laminated structure, with limited loss of the polymer during lamination and post-processing. This innovation was a game-changer in achieving the desired flow rate and maintaining the polymer’s hydrocarbon capture performance.
The implementation of Shawmut’s multi-layer composite solution offered numerous benefits. By encapsulating the oleophilic/hydrophobic polymer powder with the tailored thermoplastic polyester adhesive blend, the decontamination berm now effectively allows water to pass through while efficiently absorbing oil leaked from nearby transformers, delivering several key advantages:
The development and implementation of this innovative multi-layer composite addressed a critical challenge in electrical utility transformer substation berms. By encapsulating oleophilic/hydrophobic polymer powder with a precisely engineered adhesive blend and lamination process, Shawmut has achieved an efficient, durable, and sustainable solution that enhances hydrocarbon separation and environmental protection. This case study exemplifies the success of innovative engineering in mitigating environmental risks in critical infrastructure.
Multi-Layer Composite for Hydrocarbon Separation in Electrical Utility Transformer Substation Berms
Application weight of oleophilic/hydrophobic polymer powder
Up to 82″