Hydrocarbon systems frequently encounter aqueous contamination. The aqueous component typically exceeds the soluble limit, and accumulates within the hydrocarbon as a separate dispersed and emulsified phase. This stable emulsion is typically observed as a stable haze.
The challenge associated with conventional separation mechanisms is that they depend on capturing the droplets through impaction of the droplet on a separation medium (such a wire mesh or filter media). As the droplets become smaller, the boundary layers around such media increase in dimension to the point that the droplets are much more likely to move around the fiber rather than collide into it. The capture of such fine droplets, then, requires advances in technology to reduce such boundary layers, as well as create additional mechanisms for droplet capture.The Apex element is specifically intended to keep annular velocities constant across the entire height of the element. This is accomplished by introducing a gentle taper in the element, so that the annular space on the outside of the element gradually increased from the bottom to top, keeping pace with the external fluid flow as it exited the element. The high fluid velocities at the circumference of the cylindrical element require the cylindrical elements to be spaced further apart. Apex elements do not have to be spaced as far apart allowing the same flows to be handled in a smaller vessel, implying lower capital costs.