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What is the Difference Between a Decanter and a Tricanter Centrifuge?

Difference between decanter and tricanter centrifuge - rotating solutions

The main difference between decanter and tricanter centrifuges is that the tricanter centrifuge not only separates solids but also separates two phase of the liquid.

Here's more on how each centrifuge works and what to expect from each system.

What is a Decanter Centrifuge?

A decanter centrifuge is useful in that it separates solids and liquids, and has become an essential component of water waste facilities and the chemical, oil and gas drilling, manufacturing and food processing industries, as well as the hemp manufacturing industry.

There are several types of decanter centrifuges currently utilized in the industry, the most common of which are vertical, horizontal and conveyor centrifuges. The principle behind a decanter centrifuge is based on the theory of gravitational separation.

How does a Decanter Centrifuge operate?

A decanter centrifuge employs the same principles of gravitational force. However, unlike the glass mixture, the process is expedited through the use of continuous rotation. In fact, rotation provides anywhere from 1000 to 4000 times the normal gravitational force, reducing the time required for separation from hours to seconds.

The concept of rotational separation is similar to rides found at amusement parks and county fairgrounds. In these rides, placing yourself at an angle allows you to overcome the gravitational forces induced by rotation.

A decanter centrifuge is ultimately a bowl tube that rotates at an extremely high speed. The bowl tube is equipped with an internal conveyor which moves in the same direction but at a different velocity.

Advantages and Limitations

The use of decanter centrifuges for a two-phase separation may have several pros and cons.


1. Clean Appearance 

Decanter centrifuges have a clean appearance and have little to no odor problems.

2. Fast commissioning and start-up

Not only is the device easy to install and fast at starting up and shutting down, but also only requires a small area for operation compared to other competitive processes.

3. Size Versatility

The decanter centrifuge, as well as the 3 Phase Centrifuge, is versatile as different lengths of the cylindrical bowl section and the cone angle can be selected for different applications.

Also the system can be pre-programmed using automation to predict the sludge type, while some competitive processes, such as a belt filter press, cannot change the belt type to operate for different sludge types. Its versatility allows the machine to have various functions such as operating for thickening or dewatering.

4. Higher Throughput Capacity

The machine can operate with a higher throughput capacity than smaller machines. This also reduces the number of units required.

Compared to some competitive process such as the belt filter process, the decanter centrifuge has more process flexibility and higher levels of performance.

5. Simple To Optimize and Operate

Decanter centrifuges are is simple to optimize and operate as they have few major variables and reliable feedback information.

6. Reduced Labor Costs

The decanter centrifuge has reduced labor costs compared to other processes, as it requires low continuous maintenance and operator attention.


1. Cannot Separate Biological Solids

The decanter centrifuge cannot separate biological solids with very small density differences, such as cells and viruses. 

2. Noise and Vibration

The machine can be very noisy and can cause vibration.

3. High-Energy Consumption

The device has a high-energy consumption due to high G-forces.

4. High equipment capital costs

The decanter centrifuge has high equipment capital costs. Hard surfacing and abrasion protection materials are required for the scroll to reduce wear and therefore reduce the maintenance of the scroll wear.

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What is a Tricanter Centrifuge?

In the typical separation process, solids are separated from liquids. This scenario can often be accomplished by using a decanter centrifuge. However, in some situations there are 2 liquids of different densities that need to be separated in addition to the solids.

Enter the right solution: Tricanter centrifuges (also known as 3-phase centrifuges).

Why use a Tricanter Centrifuge?

Tricanter centrifuges allow for continuous separation of three phases (solid-liquid-liquid) in one process. Having a continuous separation of three phases in a single process is extremely beneficial in many applications where there is value in recovering a particular product or products from a multi-phased mixture.

Tricanter centrifuges are useful separating solids and two liquids of different densities, and are valuable components of the tank cleaning, oil processing, metal recycling, and hemp industries just to name a few. Tricanters allow these industries to separate out components of a mixture of solid and 2 liquids of different densities such as oil and water.

Moreover, with a centrifuge, companies operating in these industries are more efficient and can provide a beneficial return of valuable materials through 3-phase separation.

Advantages and Limitations

The use of tricanter centrifuges for a three-phase separation may have several pros and cons.


1. Reduced Processing Time

Tricanter centrifuges allow for faster and more efficient separation than other technologies such as settling tanks and skimmers.

2. Fast commissioning and start-up

Not only is the device easy to install and fast at starting up and shutting down, but also requires a small area for operation compared to other competitive processes.

3. Size Versatility

Tricanter centrifuges (3 Phase Centrifuge) are versatile, different diameters of the cylindrical bowl section and the cone angle can be selected for different applications.

Also, centrifuge technology allows for adjustments in processing and bowl speed to improve separation and provide a cleaner product on the back end of the process. Other competitive technologies don’t allow for this fine tuning.

4. Higher Throughput Capacity

Depending on the size of the machine centrifuges can offer a higher throughput than other technologies.


1. Noise and Vibration

The machine can be very noisy

2. High-Energy Consumption

The device has a high-energy consumption due to large motors and pumps needed to run the unit.

3. High equipment capital costs

The tricanter centrifuge has high equipment capital costs. But with this cost comes increased efficiency allowing this cost to be recovered over time.

Everything you need to know about tricanter centrifuges - Rotating Solutions

Compare and Contrast Decanter and Tricanter Centrifuges

  • Both, decanter and tricanter centrifuges, use high rotational speeds to separate components of different densities. The principle of a decanter centrifuge is to separate solids materials from liquids in a slurry.

  • The rotational speed is typically between 2500 and 5000 rpm depending on the diameter of the decanter. This creates a G force of typically 3000 G.

  • The three main components in the paste are solids with a density of approximately 1.2; water with a
    density of 1.08 and oil with a density of 0.916 grams per cm3).

  • A decanter centrifuge, as well as a tricanter centrifuge, employ the same principles of gravitational force.
  • Both decanter and tricanter centrifuges have very similar extraction processes.
  • In terms of water use, more water is used in a 3 phase decanter.
  • The material processed is drier from 3 phase decanter and can be stockpiled to be dealt with later.
  • In terms of material consistency, the material is a sloppy consistency from a 2 phase decanter. It needs to be constantly taken away and spread or a shallow dam is needed.
  • In terms of water distribution, water from a 3 phase decanter can go into a skimmer box and then put through the separator to get any remaining oil.
  • In terms surroundings, the area around a 2 phase decanter is less complicated as there is no water to deal with.

Where do I get Decanter and Tricanter Centrifuges?

Are you interested in getting more information on Rotating Solutions, Inc. 2-Phase or 3-Phase Centrifuge Packages?

Contact us today! Our company’s continued success and rapid development are due to our ability to provide our clients with top notch specialty service and excellent value on quality centrifuges.

Rent A Unit Today

Are you interested in renting a 2-phase or 3-phase centrifuge? RSI Rental Solutions has 2phase and 3 phase centrifuge rental packages available for rent, as well as for sale.

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About Rotating Solutions

Rotating Solutions Rayne LARotating Solutions was founded in 2007, and since day one, our vision was to provide a one-stop destination for industrial, refinery, wastewater management, and oilfield solutions, services and rental offerings. Presently, we are a leading provider of equipment and support to industrial refining zones, major operators, independent operators, service companies, rental tool companies, contractors, drilling companies, workover companies, engineering companies, completion companies, and many more.

RSI Rental Solutions, a division of Rotating Solutions Inc., focuses primarily on industrial service rentals for the petrochemical markets, offering superior service while meeting all of your rental needs.

With a focus on 2 & 3 phase centrifuge packagesmanway cannonstank sweeps, vacuum systems, decontaminator units and diesel pressure washers, we are dedicated to being your one-stop shop, and will work with you and your team to find the solutions that meet your business’s needs, including providing custom equipment and mobile repair and maintenance solutions.

At Rotating Solutions, we pride ourselves at being far more than a typical centrifuge repair facility, we offer a complete Life Cycle Management Program (CLCM). With CLCM, we completely digitize the entire process of the repair cycle

Topics: Manufacturing, centrifuge, 2 & 3 Phase Centrifuge Packages

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