What Are Gas-Liquid Separators?

Pressure vessels using centrifugal force to separate fine dropelts from gasses

Eaton (Wright-Austin) Receiver Separator DesignWright-Austin gas/liquid separators are designed to separate entrained liquid droplets and particles from a gas stream prior to being discharged into the atmosphere or next stage in the pipeline.  Sometimes they are referred to as knock-out drums, flash tanks or demister drums.  When properly sized they will remove 99% of all liquids and solids greater than 10 microns in size.


Gas/Liquid separators are used to prevent corrosion, protect process equipment, reduce energy costs and increase system efficiencies.  Wright-Austin separators will not separate solids from liquids, separate liquids from liquids or remove a vaporized liquid from a gas stream.


A significant feature of our design is its infinite turndown capability, meaning efficiency is either maintained or increased at lower flow rates. Although when at or near the maximum capacity centrifugal force might be the primary separation factor, at lower flow rates  change in velocity or torturous path are more effective.  This essentially means that you cannot oversize a separator!


There are three principles contributing to the separator efficiency; torturous path, change in velocity, & centrifugal force.

  1. Torturous path: There is no direct path for droplets to exit the separator and droplets greater than 10 microns in size are unable to “turn” with the gas, impact the internal geometry and coalesce to a  common drain point.  Re-entrainment is prevented by a vortex containment plate (VCP), a patented design within the separator body.

  2. Change in velocity:  The volume of the separator vessel is greater than the volume of the incoming pipeline, thus there is a change (loss) in velocity within the separator vessel resulting in heavier droplets (greater than 10 microns in size) to fall to the bottom of the vessel and coalesce to a common drain point; the VCP prevents re-entrainment.

  3. Centrifugal force: Internal geometry made of 304L SS or other alloys creates centrifugal force, propelling droplets larger than 10 microns to the side wall and bottom of the separator vessel where they coalesce to a common drain point; re-entrainment is prevented by the VCP.

Refer to the following articles for additional information about the design of Wright-Austin centrifugal separators:

  1. Design and Capabilities of Gas Liquid Separators

  2. Types of centrifugal separators

  3. Sizing factors to consider for liquid separation

Wright-Austin gas/liquid separators are offered in several configurations to accommodate various pipeline pathways and can be custom fabricated to meet your specific requirements.  T style air liquid separators are common for smaller pipelines and for high percentages of entrainment.  Some Wright-Austin gas/liquid separators have built-in drain traps and for those that do not, we offer float style air liquid drain traps to safely drain the separated fluid from the pipeline without product or pressure loss.


Typical Gas/Liquid Separator Applications

• Steam Drums • Gas Well Heads
• Steam Turbines • Deep Well Heads
• Intercooler Equipment • Oil Extraction
• Aftercooler Equipment • Chemical Processing
• Scrubbing Systems • Evaporator
• Glycol Dehydration • Mist Elimination
• Sulfur Condenser • Heat Exchangers
• Reactors • Landfill/Waste Gas