What Are Gas-Liquid Separators?

Wright-Austin 10R gas/liquid separator

Wright-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.


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 steam, 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 creates a 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.

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


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.


Type DTL gas liquid separators are designed for applications that have a high percentage of solids.
CLC coalescer style separators have an extra stage to improve removal efficiency down to 4 microns.
Wright Austin exhaust heads reduce visible condensate plumes and help recover expensive boiler additives.

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