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Title:
SEPARATOR APPARATUS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/021708
Kind Code:
A2
Abstract:
A separator apparatus (10), such as a separator apparatus for use with an underwater excavation apparatus (5), is configured to receive a mixture of fluid and solids from an underwater excavation apparatus (5). The separator apparatus (10) includes at least one separation arrangement or means. The separation arrangement or means is configured to separate at least a portion or part of the solids from a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing in or through the separator apparatus (10).

Inventors:
STEWART, Donald (Whitemyres Avenue, Mastrick Industrial Estate, Aberdeen Aberdeenshire AB16 6HQ, AB16 6HQ, GB)
STEWART, Kenneth Roderick (Whitemyres Avenue, Mastrick Industrial Estate, Aberdeen Aberdeenshire AB16 6HQ, AB16 6HQ, GB)
Application Number:
GB2016/052339
Publication Date:
February 09, 2017
Filing Date:
July 29, 2016
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
ROTECH GROUP LIMITED (Whitemyres Avenue, Mastrick Industrial Estate, Aberdeen Aberdeenshire AB16 6HQ, AB16 6HQ, GB)
International Classes:
E02F7/06; E02F3/88; E02F3/92
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MARKS & CLERK LLP (Aurora Building, 8th Floor120 Bothwell Street, Glasgow G2 7JS, G2 7JS, GB)
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Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A separator apparatus, such as a separator apparatus for use with an underwater excavation apparatus, the separator apparatus being configured to receive a mixture of fluid and solids from an underwater excavation apparatus, wherein the separator apparatus comprises

at least one separation arrangement or means, the separation arrangement or means being configured to separate at least a portion or part of the solids from a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing in or through the separator apparatus.

2. The separator apparatus as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the separator apparatus comprises a flow deceleration arrangement configured to gradually, controllably or sequentially reduce a speed or velocity of a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing in or through the separator apparatus.

3. The separator apparatus as claimed in claim 1 or 2, wherein the separator apparatus is configured to be connected or connectable to an underwater excavation apparatus such that the separator apparatus is supported by an underwater excavation apparatus.

4. The separator apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the separator apparatus is configured for displacing a fluid and/or solids at least partially separated from a mixture of fluid and solids from an excavation site or location to a predetermined or pre-selected location on a seabed below, such as directly below, the separator apparatus, optionally wherein the pre-determined or pre-selected is spaced or located at a distance from an excavation site or location on a seabed.

5. The separator apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the separator apparatus comprises a flow passage configured to receive a mixture of fluid and solids, from an underwater excavation apparatus, a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing in or through the flow passage, in use.

6. The separator apparatus as claimed in claim 5, wherein the separator apparatus comprises a separation chamber, the separation chamber defining or comprising at least one part of the flow passage.

7. The separator apparatus as claimed in claim 5 or 6, wherein the at least one separation arrangement is arranged in the separation chamber to extend across or span part or all of the flow passage. 8. The separator apparatus as claimed in claim 5 or 6, wherein the at least one separation arrangement is provided in the separation chamber, such as to protrude or at least partially extend into or through the flow passage.

9. The separator apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the separator apparatus comprises an inlet and/or an outlet, the inlet being configured to receive a mixture of fluid and solids from an underwater excavation apparatus and the outlet of the separator apparatus being configured to expel or discharge a fluid at least partially separated from a mixture of fluid and solids, in use. 10. The separator apparatus as claimed in claim 9, wherein the inlet of the separator apparatus comprises or defines a cross-sectional area and/or wherein the outlet of the separator apparatus defines or comprises a cross-sectional area, the cross-sectional area of the outlet being larger than the cross-sectional area of the inlet. 1 1. The separator apparatus as claimed in claim 9 or 10, wherein the separator apparatus is configured to taper from the outlet towards the inlet, the separator apparatus being tapered at an angle of about 5 to 20 degrees, such as about 10 degrees, relative to a central or longitudinal axis of the separator apparatus. 12. The separator apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, wherein the separator apparatus comprises a diffuser passage.

13. The separator apparatus as claimed in claim 12, wherein the diffuser passage is configured to reduce a speed or velocity of a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing through the diffuser passage, in use.

14. The separator apparatus as claimed in claim 12 or 13, wherein the diffuser passage comprises an inlet and an outlet, each defining a cross-sectional area, the cross-sectional area of the outlet being larger than the cross-sectional area of the inlet.

15. The separator apparatus as claimed in claim 15, wherein the diffuser passage is configured to taper from the outlet towards the inlet of the diffuser passage, the diffuser passage being tapered at an angle of about 5 to 20 degrees, such as about 10 degrees, relative to a central or longitudinal axis of the diffuser passage.

16. The separator apparatus as claimed in any one of claim 12 to 15, wherein the separator apparatus comprises a guide arrangement configured to impart a spiral motion or rotational motion on a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing through the separator apparatus and/or configured to subject a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing through the separator apparatus to a centrifugal force, the guide arrangement being arranged or provided in the diffuser passage.

17. The separator apparatus as claimed in claim 16, the guide arrangement comprises one or more guide elements, the one or more guide element(s) being arranged or provided in at least one other part of the flow passage defined by the diffuser passage to protrude or at least partially extend into the at least one other part of the flow passage.

18. The separator apparatus as claimed in claim 17, wherein the one or more guide element(s) comprises one or more vane(s) or blade(s).

19. The separator apparatus as claimed in claim 18, wherein the guide arrangement comprises an elongate member arranged or provided to extend in a longitudinal direction of the separator apparatus and/or through at least part of the separator apparatus, the one or more guide element(s) being arranged, disposed or provided on the elongate member to define or form a threaded, helical or spiral member.

20 The separator apparatus as claimed in claim 19, wherein the elongate member is configured to move, such as rotate around a longitudinal axis of the elongate member and/or separator apparatus, thereby causing movement, such as rotational movement, of the one or more guide element(s) in the separation apparatus.

21. The separator apparatus as claimed in claim 19 or 20, wherein the guide arrangement is coupled, coupleable, connected or connectable to a moving arrangement, such as an electric or hydraulic motor, to permit movement, such as rotational movement, of the elongate member and/or guide element(s).

22. The separator apparatus as claimed in claim 6 or any one of claims 7 to 21 when dependent on claim 6, wherein the separator apparatus comprises at least one or a plurality of separation element(s), the at least one or plurality of separation element(s) being part of or comprised in the separation arrangement and/or provided in the separation chamber. 23. The separator apparatus as claimed in claim 22, wherein at least one/each or the plurality of separation element(s) are configured to reduce a speed or velocity of a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing in or through the separator apparatus and/or to at least partially separate fluid and/or solids from a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing through the separator apparatus.

24. The separator apparatus as claimed in claim 22 or 23, the at least one/each or the plurality of separation element(s) are arranged in the separation chamber to permit movement, such as slidable movement, of at least a portion or end of the separation element(s), in a direction substantially perpendicular to a longitudinal or central axis of the separator apparatus.

25. The separator apparatus as claimed in any one of claims 22 to 24, wherein the at least one/each or the plurality of separation element(s) are arranged in the separation chamber to prohibit movement of the at least one/each separation element in a longitudinal direction of the separator apparatus.

26. The separator apparatus as claimed in any one of claims 22 to 25, wherein a number of separation elements provided in the separation chamber increases in a longitudinal direction of the separation chamber.

27. The separator apparatus as claimed in claim 26 when dependent on any one of claims 9 to 11 , wherein the separation elements arranged or provided at the outlet of the separator apparatus are spaced more closely to each other, such as in a transverse direction of the separator apparatus or separation chamber, than the separation elements arranged or provided at an inlet of the separation chamber.

28. The separator apparatus as claimed in any one of claims 22 or 27, wherein the at least one/each separation element comprises a further elongate member, such as an elongate bar, elongate rod or a length or portion of chain, arranged in the separation chamber to span or extend across the at least one part of the flow passage of the separation chamber and/or separator apparatus.

29. The separator apparatus as claimed in any one of claims 1 or 23, wherein the separation arrangement or means comprises a further helical or spiral member, such as an auger, cork screw, provided in the flow passage of the separator apparatus to impart a spiral motion or rotational motion on a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing through the flow passage and/or to reduce a speed or velocity of a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing in the flow passage, in use. 30. The separator apparatus as claimed in any one of claims 1 or 23 , wherein the separation arrangement comprises a further threaded member, such as a screw thread, provided in or to protrude into the flow passage of separator apparatus to impart a spiral motion or rotational motion on a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing through the flow passage and/or to reduce a speed or velocity of a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing in the flow passage, in use.

31. The separator apparatus as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 21 , wherein the separator apparatus comprises a centrifugal arrangement, the centrifugal arrangement being part of or comprised in the separation arrangement.

32. The separator apparatus as claimed in claim 31 , wherein the centrifugal arrangement comprises an inner chamber and/or an outer chamber, the inner and outer chambers being arranged to be in communication with each other. 33. The separator apparatus as claimed in claim 32, wherein the centrifugal arrangement comprises one or more channel(s) connecting the inner chamber with the outer chamber.

34. The separator apparatus as claimed in claim 33, wherein the one or more channel(s) are configured to permit passage of a fluid at least partially separated from a mixture of fluid and solids from the outer chamber to the inner chamber. 35. The separator apparatus as claimed claim 32 to 34, when dependent on claim 9, wherein the inner chamber is in communication with the outlet of the separator apparatus.

36. The separator apparatus as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 21 , wherein the separator apparatus comprises a baffle arrangement, the baffle arrangement being part of or comprised in the separation arrangement.

37. The separator apparatus as claimed in claim 36, wherein the baffle arrangement comprises a baffle, vane or panel arranged/configured to direct flow of fluid at least partially separated from a mixture of fluid and solids to the outlet of the separator apparatus.

38. The separator apparatus as claimed in any one of claims 6 to 37, the separator apparatus comprises one or more opening(s) arranged or provided on or in the upper portion, such as the upper or top surface, of the separation chamber.

39. The separator apparatus as claimed in claim 38, wherein the opening(s) are configured to permit passage or flow of a fluid at least partially separated from a mixture of fluid and solids from an interior of the separator apparatus chamber to an exterior of the separator apparatus, in use.

40. The separator apparatus as claimed in claim 38 or 39, wherein the one or more opening(s) are configured to reduce a speed or velocity of a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing through the separator apparatus, in use.

41. The separator apparatus as claimed in any one of claims 6 to 40, wherein the separator apparatus comprises an open portion or further outlet for discharge and/or deposition of solids at least partially separated from a mixture of fluid and solids onto a seabed, the open portion being arranged in the separation chamber to face downwards towards a seabed and/or a predetermined location on a seabed, in use.

42. The separator apparatus as claimed in claim 41 , wherein the open portion or further outlet is arranged in or on the separator apparatus such that solids at least partially separated from a mixture of fluid and solids are discharged below, such as directly below, the separator apparatus.

43. The separator apparatus as claimed in any one of claims 6 to 42, wherein a cross-sectional area of the separation chamber increases in a/the longitudinal direction of the separation chamber.

44. An excavation apparatus, such as an underwater excavation apparatus, comprising a separator apparatus according to any preceding claim.

45. The excavation apparatus as claimed in claim 44, wherein the excavation apparatus comprises a suction member or means configured to excavate seabed material from a predetermined or preselected location using suction.

46. The excavation apparatus as claimed in claim 45, wherein the suction member is configured to pump or transport a mixture of fluid and solids excavated by the underwater excavation apparatus to the separator apparatus, in use.

47. The excavation apparatus as claimed in any one of claims 44 to 46, wherein the excavation apparatus further comprises a flow producing device configured to produce and/or direct a flow of fluid to a predetermined or preselected location to be excavated, in use.

48. The excavation apparatus as claimed in any one of claims 44 to 47, wherein the excavation apparatus is configured to impart a rotational or swirl motion on a mixture of fluid and solids excavated by the excavation apparatus.

49. The excavation apparatus as claimed in any of claims 44 to 48, wherein the excavation apparatus is configured to subject a mixture of fluid and solids excavated by the excavation apparatus to a centrifugal force.

50. The excavation apparatus as claimed in any one of claim 44 to 49, wherein the excavation apparatus comprises at least one impeller configured to produce suction for excavating seabed material, the impeller being configured to impart a swirl or rotational motion on a mixture of fluid and solids excavated by the excavation apparatus, which is directed from the excavation apparatus to the separator apparatus.

51. The excavation apparatus as claimed in any one of claims 44 to 50, wherein the excavation apparatus is part of or comprised in a burial, de-burial and/or dredging apparatus.

52. The excavation apparatus as claimed in any one of claims 44 to 51 , wherein the excavation apparatus is configured to be movable or moved on a seabed, in use.

53. The excavation apparatus as claimed in any one of claims 44 to 52, wherein the excavation apparatus comprises a housing, chamber or hood.

54. A method of separating fluid and/or solids from a mixture of fluid and solids, the method comprising

providing a separator apparatus according to any one of claims 1 to 43 and/or an excavation apparatus according to any one of claims 44 to 53;

receiving a mixture of fluid and solids from an/the excavation apparatus, passing a mixture of fluids and solids through the separator apparatus; and separating at least a part or portion of the solids and fluid from a mixture of fluid and solids.

55. The method as claimed in claim 54, wherein separating at least a part or portion of the solids and fluid from a mixture of fluid and solids comprises reducing a speed or velocity of a mixture of fluid and solids flowing or passing through the separator apparatus.

56. The method as claimed in claim 54 or 55, wherein separating at least a part or portion of the solids and fluid from a mixture of fluid and solids comprises imparting a spiral motion or rotational motion on a mixture of fluid and solids flowing or passing through the separator apparatus.

57. The method as claimed in any one of claims 54 to 56, wherein separating at least a part or portion of the solids and fluid from a mixture of fluid and solids comprises subjecting a mixture of fluid and solids flowing or passing through the separator apparatus to a centrifugal force.

58. The method as claimed in any one of claims 54 to 57, wherein the method comprises discharging solids at least partially separated solids from a mixture of fluid and solids at a predetermined or pre-selected location on a seabed. 59. The method as claimed in any one of claims 54 to 58, wherein the method comprises expelling or discharging fluid at least partially separated from a mixture of fluid and solids.

Description:
SEPARATOR APPARATUS

FIELD OF INVENTION

The present invention relates to a separator apparatus, such as for use with an underwater excavation apparatus. The invention also relates to associated apparatus, devices and methods.

BACKGROUND TO INVENTION

Subsea excavation equipment typically directs a flow of seawater towards the seabed to disturb or displace seabed material. The material may then be contained in a seawater/seabed material suspension within a housing or hood of a subsea excavator. The seawater/seabed material suspension contained in the housing may be captured by a suction means, which discharges the seawater/seabed material from the housing, for example, along a discharge pipe or hose onto the seabed. GB Patent No. 24 59 700 (Rotech Holdings Ltd.) discloses an example of underwater excavation apparatus, which comprises a mass flow excavation means, a suction means and a housing.

For some applications, subsea excavation equipment may use high volume water flow or high pressure water jets to create trenches into which cables or pipes are laid, to expose sections of damaged cables or pipes for repair and/or maintenance, or to uncover large structures buried under the seafloor. During excavation operations excavated seabed material may be blown a short distance from the immediate excavation area by the water jet, leaving the target permanently exposed unless natural backfill occurs or other remedial action is taken to re-cover the target. For some applications it may desirable that at an end of the discharge pipe the seabed material is discharged at a predetermined location on the seabed.

In some applications, for example, where the subsea excavator is used to create a trench to lower an object, e.g. a subsea electric cable or communication cable, below the level of the seabed, it may be desirable for excavated seabed material to be discharged over the trench to bury and provide protective cover for the lowered cable.

It will be appreciated that controlled discharge of excavated seabed material may be of importance for excavation operations, which may require rebury or covering of cable or pipe after exposure of the same, for example, for maintenance, repair or installation purposes.

This background serves only to set a scene to allow a skilled reader to better appreciate the following description. Therefore, none of the above discussion should necessarily be taken as an acknowledgement that that discussion is part of the state of the art or is common general knowledge. One or more aspects/embodiments of the invention may or may not address one or more of the background issues.

it is an object of at least one embodiment of at least one aspect of the present invention to obviate or mitigate one or more problems or disadvantages in the prior art.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

According to a general solution the present invention provides a separator apparatus, such as for use with an excavation apparatus particularly an underwater excavation apparatus. The separator apparatus may be configured to receive a mixture of fluid and solids from an underwater excavation apparatus. The separator apparatus may comprise at least one separation arrangement or means. The separation arrangement or means may be configured to separate at least a portion or part or all of solids from a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing in or through the separator apparatus, e.g. in use.

According to a first aspect of the present invention there is provided a separator apparatus, such as for use with an excavation apparatus. The separator apparatus may be particularly adapted for use with an underwater excavation apparatus. The separator apparatus may be configured to receive or for receiving a mixture of fluid and solids from an underwater excavation apparatus.

A mixture of fluid and solids may be or comprise a slurry. The fluid may be or comprise a liquid, such as water, e.g. sea water or brine. The solids may be or comprise solid particles and/or material, e.g. seabed material, e.g. material excavated by an excavation apparatus (e.g. underwater excavation apparatus). The solids may be or comprise particles or particulate material. For example, a mixture of fluid and solids may be or comprise material, e.g. seabed material, which may be contained in a fluid/solids suspension, e.g. a water/material suspension or sea water/seabed material suspension.

The separator apparatus may comprise at least one separation arrangement or means. The separation arrangement or means may be configured to separate or for separating at least a portion or part or all of the solids and/or fluid from a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing in or through the separator apparatus, e.g. in use. The separation arrangement may be configured to reduce or for reducing a velocity of a mixture of fluid and solids, e.g. a mixture fluid and solids received from an excavation apparatus. For example, the separation arrangement may be configured to controllably, sequentially or gradually reduce or for controllably, sequentially or gradually reducing a velocity of a mixture of fluid and solids, e.g. a mixture of fluid and solids received from an excavation apparatus and/or a mixture of fluid and solids flowing or passing through the separator apparatus. This may allow solids to be separated (e.g. at least partially separated) from a mixture of fluid and solids, e.g. due to gravitational forces acting on the solids. Additionally or alternatively, this may allow fluids separated (e.g. at least partially separated) from a mixture of fluid and solids to be discharged at a reduced speed or velocity, thereby preventing disturbance of seabed material and/or separated, (e.g. at least partially separated) solids that were discharged from the separator apparatus.

The separator apparatus may comprise a flow deceleration arrangement. The flow deceleration arrangement may be configured to reduce or for reducing a speed or velocity, e.g. configured to controllably, sequentially or gradually reduce or for controllably, sequentially or gradually reducing a speed or velocity, of a mixture fluid and solids passing or flowing in or through the separator apparatus and/or received from an excavation apparatus. The separation arrangement or means may define, be part of or be comprised in the deceleration arrangement.

The separator apparatus may be configured to be connected or connectable to an excavation apparatus, e.g. an underwater excavation apparatus. The separator apparatus may be connected or connectable to an excavation apparatus such that the separator apparatus is supported by an excavation apparatus. The separator apparatus may be configured to be mounted on or to an excavation apparatus.

The separator apparatus may be configured to displace or for displacing a fluid and/or solids separated (e.g. at least partially separated) from a mixture of fluid and solids from an excavation site or location on a seabed, e.g. a site or location on a seabed excavated by an excavation apparatus, to a pre-determined or pre-selected location on a seabed, e.g. below or directly below the separator apparatus. The separator apparatus may be configured for discharging of solids separated (e.g. at least partially separated) from a mixture of fluid and solids at a pre-determined or pre- selected location on a seabed. The pre-determined or pre-selected may be spaced or located at a distance from an excavation site or location on a seabed, e.g. a site or location on a seabed excavated by an excavation apparatus. This may allow the separator apparatus to be used for the burial of an object, such as a pipe or cable located on a seabed or in a channel, trench, or hole in a seabed. The separator apparatus may comprise or define a flow passage. The flow passage may be configured to receive or for receiving a mixture of fluid and solids, e.g. from an excavation apparatus. A mixture of fluid and solids may pass or flow in or through the flow passage, e.g. in use.

The separator apparatus may comprise a separation chamber. The separation chamber may define, be part of or be comprised in the flow deceleration arrangement. The separation chamber may define or comprise at least one part of the flow passage. The separation arrangement or means may be part of or comprised in the separation chamber.

In some examples, the separation arrangement or means may be arranged in the separation chamber, e.g. to extend across or span the flow passage (e.g. the at least one part of the flow passage). Alternatively or additionally, the separation arrangement or means may be provided in the separation chamber e.g. to protrude or at least partially extend into or through the flow passage (e.g. the at least one part of the flow passage).

The separator apparatus may comprise an inlet and/or an outlet. The inlet may be provided or arranged at a first end, e.g. a front end, of the separator apparatus. The outlet may be provided or arranged at a second end, e.g. a rear end, of the separator apparatus. The inlet of the separator apparatus may be connectable, attachable, connected or attached to an underwater excavation apparatus, e.g. an outlet of an excavation apparatus. The inlet of the separator apparatus may be configured to receive or for receiving a mixture of fluid and solids, e.g. from an excavation apparatus, e.g. in use.

The outlet of the separator apparatus may be configured to expel or discharge or for expelling or discharging a fluid separated (e.g. at least partially separated) from a mixture of fluid and solids, e.g. in use.

The inlet of the separator apparatus may comprise or define a cross-sectional area. The outlet of the separator apparatus may define or comprise a cross-sectional area. The cross-sectional area of the outlet may be larger than the cross-sectional area of the inlet. The separator apparatus, e.g. an internal portion thereof, may be configured to taper from the outlet towards the inlet. In other words, a cross-sectional area of the separator apparatus may increase from the inlet towards the outlet, e.g. in a longitudinal or axial direction of the separator apparatus. The separator apparatus may be tapered at an angle of about 5 to 20 degrees, e.g. about 10 degrees, relative to a central or longitudinal axis of the separator apparatus. The outlet of the separator apparatus may be part of or comprised in the separation chamber. The separation chamber may comprise or define an inlet and/or an outlet. In some examples, the outlet of the separator apparatus may be, comprise or define the outlet of the separation chamber.

The separator apparatus may comprise a diffuser passage. The diffuser passage may define or comprise at least one other part of the flow passage. The diffuser passage may be attachable, connectable, attached or connected to an excavation apparatus, e.g. in use.

The diffuser passage may comprise an inlet and/or an outlet.

The inlet of the separator apparatus may be part of or comprised in the diffuser passage. For example, the inlet of the separator apparatus may be, comprise or define the inlet of the diffuser passage.

The outlet of the diffuser passage may be attachable, connectable, attached, connected to the inlet of the separation chamber. The outlet of the diffuser passage may be in communication, e.g. fluid communication, with the inlet of the separation chamber.

The inlet of the diffuser passage and/or separator apparatus may comprise or define a cross-sectional area.

The diffuser passage may define, be part of or be comprised in the flow deceleration arrangement. The diffuser passage may be configured to reduce or for reducing a speed or velocity, e.g. a flow speed or velocity, of a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing through the diffuser passage, e.g. in use.

The outlet of the diffuser passage may define or comprise a cross-sectional area. The cross-sectional area of the outlet of the diffuser passage may be larger than the cross-sectional area of the inlet of the diffuser passage. The diffuser passage may be configured to taper from the outlet towards the inlet of the diffuser passage. In other words, a cross-sectional area of the diffuser passage may increase from the inlet towards the outlet, e.g. in a longitudinal or axial direction of the separator apparatus, e.g. the diffuser passage. The diffuser passage may be tapered at an angle of about 5 to 20 degrees, e.g. about 10 degrees, relative to a central or longitudinal axis of the diffuser passage. The diffuser passage may define or comprise a frusto-conical shape.

In some examples, the separator apparatus, e.g. the flow deceleration arrangement, may be configured to impart or for imparting a spiral motion or rotational motion on a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing through the separator apparatus, e.g. the flow passage, e.g. in use. The separator apparatus, e.g. the flow deceleration arrangement, may be configured to subject or for subjecting a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing through the separator apparatus, e.g. the flow passage, to a centrifugal force, e.g. in use. This may permit the solids to become separated (e.g. at least partially separated) from fluid and/or reduce a speed or velocity of a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing in or through the separator apparatus, e.g. the flow passage, e.g. in use. A reduction or decrease of a/the speed or velocity of a mixture of fluid and solids may permit the solids to become separated, e.g. further separated, from fluid, e.g. due to gravitational forces acting on the solids.

The separator apparatus may comprise a guide arrangement. The guide arrangement may be configured to impart or for imparting a spiral motion or rotational motion on a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing in or through the separator apparatus, e.g. the flow passage, e.g. in use. The guide arrangement may be configured to subject or for subjecting a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing in or through the separator apparatus, e.g. the flow passage, to a centrifugal force, e.g. in use. The guide arrangement may be part of or comprised in the diffuser passage. The guide arrangement may be arranged or provided in the flow passage, e.g. the at least one other part of the flow passage, e.g. defined by the diffuser passage.

In some examples, the guide arrangement may comprise one or more guide element(s). The one or more guide element(s) may be arranged or provided in the flow passage, e.g. the at least one other part of the flow passage, e.g. diffuser passage, to protrude or at least partially extend into the flow passage, e.g. the at least one other part of the flow passage, e.g. the diffuser passage. For example, the one or more guide element(s) may be arranged or provided on an internal surface of the flow passage, e.g. the at least one other part of the flow passage, e.g. the diffuser passage. The one or more guide element(s) may be or comprise one or more vane(s) or blade(s), e.g. guide vane(s)or guide blade(s), or the like.

In some examples, the separator apparatus may comprise an elongate member. The elongate member may be part of or comprised in the guide arrangement. The elongate member may be arranged or provided to extend in a longitudinal direction of at least a portion of or all of the separator apparatus, e.g. the at least one part of the flow passage and/or the at least one other part of the flow passage, e.g. the diffuser passage and/or the separation chamber. The elongate member may be arranged or provided to extend through at least a portion of or all of the separator apparatus, e.g. the at least one part of the flow passage and/or the at least one other part of the flow passage, e.g. the diffuser passage and/or the separation chamber. The one or more guide element(s) may be arranged, disposed or provided, e.g. circumferentially arranged, disposed or provided, on the elongate member, e.g. to define or form a threaded, helical or spiral member, e.g. a corkscrew or auger or the like. The elongate member may be or comprise a shaft or rod or the like.

In some examples, the guide arrangement may be arranged to be stationary in at least a portion of or all of the separator apparatus, e.g. the diffuser passage.

In some examples, the guide arrangement may be movably arranged or provided in the separator apparatus, e.g. the diffuser passage. For example, the elongate member may be movably arranged, e.g. rotatably arranged, and/or configured to move, e.g. rotate, around a longitudinal axis of the elongate member and/or separator apparatus, e.g. diffuser passage. For example, in use, movement, e.g. rotational movement, of the elongate member may permit or cause movement, e.g. rotational movement, of the one or more guide element(s) in the separator apparatus, e.g. the flow passage, e.g. diffuser passage and/or separation chamber. Movement, e.g. rotational movement of the one or more guide elements may impart a spiral motion or rotational motion on a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing through the separator apparatus, e.g. the flow passage, e.g. diffuser passage and/or separation chamber. This may subject a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing through the separator apparatus, e.g. the flow passage, e.g. diffuser passage and/or separation chamber, to a centrifugal force, e.g. in use. The guide arrangement, e.g. the elongate member, may be coupled, coupleable, connected or connectable to a moving arrangement, e.g. to permit movement, e.g. rotational movement, of the elongate member and/or the one or more guide element(s), e.g. in use. The moving arrangement may be or comprise an electric or hydraulic motor, or the like.

In some examples, the separator apparatus may comprise at least one separation element or a plurality of separation elements. The at least one separation element or plurality of separation elements may be part of or comprised in the separation arrangement or means. The at least one separation element or the plurality of separation elements may be part of, arranged or provided in the separation chamber. The separator apparatus, e.g. the at least one separation element, each of the plurality of separation elements or the plurality of separation elements, may be configured to separate or for separating, e.g. to at least partially separate or for partially separating, solids from a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing in or through the separator apparatus. The separator apparatus, e.g. the at least one separation element, each of the plurality of separation elements or the plurality of separation elements, may be configured to reduce or for reducing a speed or velocity of a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing in the flow passage and/or in or through the separator apparatus, e.g. the separation chamber. A reduction or decrease of a/the speed or velocity of a mixture of fluid and solids may permit the solids to become separated, (e.g. at least partially separated) from the fluid, e.g. due to gravitational forces acting on the solids.

The at least one separation element, each separation element or the plurality of separation elements may be arranged in the separator apparatus, e.g. the separation chamber, to span or extend across the flow passage, e.g. the at least one part of the flow passage. The at least one separation element, each separation element or the plurality of separation elements may be arranged in the separator apparatus to span or extend across all or at least part of the flow passage.

In some examples, the at least one separation element, each separation element or the plurality of separation elements may be arranged in the separation chamber and/or separator apparatus to permit movement, e.g. slidable movement, of at least a portion or end of the separation element(s), in a direction perpendicular (e.g. substantially perpendicular) to a longitudinal or central axis of the separation chamber and/or separator apparatus. For example, at least a portion or end of the least one/each or the plurality of separation element(s) may be movable, e.g. slidably movable, in a transverse (e.g. substantially transverse or in a direction substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal or central axis of the separator apparatus) direction of the separation chamber and/or separator apparatus.

Alternatively or additionally, at least a portion or end of the least one/each separation element may be movable, e.g. slidably movable, in a vertical (e.g. substantially vertical or in a direction substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal or central axis of the separator apparatus) direction of the separation chamber and/or separator apparatus. By allowing at least a portion or end of the at least one separation element or each of the plurality of separation elements to be movable and/or slidable in a direction perpendicular (e.g. substantially perpendicular) to the longitudinal or central axis of the separator apparatus and/or separating chamber, the risk of large particles/solids becoming trapped in the separator apparatus and/or clogging of the separator apparatus may be reduced.

The at least one separation element, each separation element or the plurality of separation elements may be arranged in the separation chamber and/or separator apparatus to prohibit movement of the at least one separation element, each separation element or the plurality of separation elements in a/the longitudinal direction of the separation chamber and/or separator apparatus. By restricting movement of the at least one separation element, each separating element or the plurality of separation elements in a longitudinal direction of the separating chamber and/or separator apparatus, the at least one separation element, each separating element or the plurality of separation elements may be maintained in a position spanning the flow passage, e.g. in a position spanning at least part of or all of the flow passage, of the separating chamber. In some examples, at least one other portion or end of the at least one/each separation element may be fixed or attached to separation chamber (e.g. the separator apparatus) or a portion thereof, e.g. to prohibit movement of the at least one other portion or end of the at least one separation element, each separation element or the plurality of separation elements relative to the separator apparatus, e.g. the separation chamber. For example, the at least one other portion or end of the at least one separation element, ,each separation element or the plurality of separation elements may be attached or fixed to an upper portion, e.g. an upper surface, of the separator apparatus, e.g. separation chamber.

In some examples, a number of separation elements provided in the separation chamber and/or separator apparatus may increase in a/the longitudinal direction of the separation chamber and/or separator apparatus. In other words, a number of separation elements provided at or in vicinity of the inlet of the separation chamber may be less than a number of separation elements provided at or in vicinity of the outlet of the separation chamber (e.g. separator apparatus). For example, the separation elements arranged or provided at the outlet of the separator apparatus and/or separation chamber may be spaced more closely to each other, e.g. in a transverse direction of the separator apparatus, e.g. the separation chamber, than the separation elements arranged or provided at the inlet of the separation chamber. A density of the separation elements may increase in a longitudinal direction of the separation chamber and/or separator apparatus e.g. from the inlet to the outlet of the separation chamber. By providing or arranging less separation elements at the inlet than at the outlet of the separation chamber, a speed or velocity of a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing in or through the separator apparatus, e.g. the separation chamber, may be reduced or decreased, e.g. gradually reduced or decreased.

The at least one separation element, each separation element or the plurality of separation elements may be or comprise a further elongate member, e.g. an elongate bar, elongate rod or a length or portion of chain or the like. The further elongate member may be flexible or rigid. The further elongate member may be arranged in the separation chamber and/or separator apparatus to span or extend across the flow passage (e.g. the at least one part of the flow passage), e.g. of the separation chamber and/or separator apparatus.

In some examples, the separation arrangement may comprise a further threaded, helical and/or spiral member. The further threaded, helical and/or spiral member may be, define or comprise the at least one separation element or the plurality of separation elements. The further threaded, helical and/or spiral member may be provided in the flow passage of the separator apparatus, e.g. to impart a spiral motion or rotational motion on a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing through the flow passage and/or to reduce a speed or velocity of a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing in the flow passage, e.g. in use.

The further threaded, helical and/or spiral member may be provided in or to protrude into the flow passage of separator apparatus, e.g. to impart a spiral motion or rotational motion on a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing through the flow passage and/or to reduce a speed or velocity of a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing in the flow passage, e.g. in use.

The further threaded, helical and/or spiral member may comprise one or more further vane(s) or blade(s), e.g. guide vane(s) or guide blade(s). The one or more further vane(s) or blade(s) may be arranged or provided in the flow passage of the separator apparatus (e.g. the at least part of the flow passage), e.g. to impart a spiral or rotational motion on a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing in or through the flow passage (e.g. at least one part of the flow passage). The one or more further vane(s) or blade(s) may be configured to subject or for subjecting a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing through the flow passage (e.g. the at least one part of the flow passage) to a centrifugal force, e.g. in use. This may permit the solids to become separated (e.g. at least partially separated) from fluid and/or a reduction in a speed or velocity of a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing in the flow passage (e.g. the at least one part of the flow passage) and/or in or through the separator apparatus and/or in or through the separation chamber, e.g. in use. A reduction or decrease of a/the speed or velocity of a mixture of fluid and solids may permit the solids to become separated (e.g. at least partially separated) from fluid, e.g. due to gravitational forces acting on the solids.

In some examples, the one or more further vane(s) or blade(s) may be arranged in the separation chamber, e.g. to protrude or extend at least partially in the flow passage of the separator apparatus (e.g. the at least part of the flow passage). For example, the one or more further vane(s) or blade(s) may be arranged on an internal surface of the separation chamber, e.g. the at least part of the flow passage. The one or more vane(s) or blade(s) may be arranged in the separator apparatus, e.g. the separation chamber, to form or define a further screw thread or the like.

In some examples, the elongate member may be arranged to extend into and/or through the separation chamber. In examples where the elongate member may extend into and/or through the separation chamber, the one or more vane(s) or blades may be arranged, disposed or provided, e.g. circumferentially arranged, disposed or provided, on the elongate member.

In some examples, the separator apparatus may comprise a yet further elongate member. The yet further elongate member may be arranged to extend into and/or through the separation chamber (e.g. the at least one part of the flow passage). The one or more further vane(s) or blades may be arranged, disposed or provided, e.g. circumferentially arranged, disposed or provided, on the yet further elongate member. The yet further elongate member may be or comprise a further shaft or rod or the like.

The elongate member, yet further elongate member and/or the one or more further vane(s) or blade(s) may comprise, define or form a further corkscrew, auger or the like.

The further threaded, helical and/or spiral member may be arranged in the separator apparatus, e.g. the separation chamber, to be stationary, e.g. in use.

The further threaded, helical and/or spiral member may be movably arranged in the separator apparatus, e.g. the separation chamber. For example, the elongate member and/or yet further elongate member may be movably arranged, e.g. rotatably arranged, and/or configured for move, e.g. for rotating, around a longitudinal axis of the elongate member, yet further elongate member and/or separator apparatus, e.g. separation chamber. For example, in use, movement, e.g. rotational movement, of the elongate member and/or yet further elongate member may permit or cause movement, e.g. rotational movement, of the one or more further vane(s) or blade(s) in the separator apparatus, e.g. separation chamber. Movement, e.g. rotational movement of the one or more further vane(s) or blade(s) may impart a spiral motion or rotational motion on a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing through the separator apparatus, e.g. the separation chamber.

The further threaded, helical and/or spiral member, e.g. the elongate member and/or yet further elongate member, may be coupled, coupleable, connected or connectable to a/the (further) moving arrangement, e.g. to permit movement, e.g. rotational movement, of the elongate member, the one or more further vane(s) or blade(s) and/or the yet further elongate member, e.g. in use. The moving arrangement may be or comprise an electric or hydraulic motor, or the like.

In some examples, the separator apparatus may comprise a centrifugal arrangement. The centrifugal arrangement may be part of or comprised in the separation arrangement or means. The centrifugal arrangement may comprise an inner chamber and/or an outer chamber. The inner and outer chambers may be arranged to be in communication with each other. The centrifugal arrangement may comprise one or more channel(s). The one or more channel(s) may connect the inner chamber with the outer chamber. The one or more channel(s) may be or comprise one or more slot(s), hole(s), slit(s) or passage way(s) or the like. The one or more channel(s) may extend in a longitudinal direction of the separator apparatus and/or may be provided circumferentially around a wall of the inner chamber. The one or more channel(s) may be configured to permit passage of a fluid separated (e.g. at least partially separated) from a mixture of fluid and solids from the outer chamber to the inner chamber.

The inner chamber may be in communication, e.g. direct communication, with the outlet of the separator apparatus, e.g. to permit discharge of a fluid separated (e.g. at least partially separated) from mixture of fluid and solids.

The centrifugal arrangement may be configured for receiving and/or separating a mixture of fluid and solids comprising or having a spiral or rotational motion, e.g. imparted by the excavation apparatus or a portion thereof.

In some examples, the separator apparatus may comprise a baffle arrangement. The baffle arrangement may be part of or comprised in the separation arrangement or means. The baffle arrangement may be arranged or configured to direct flow of fluid separated (e.g. at least partially separated) from a mixture of fluid and solids to the outlet of the separator apparatus. The baffle arrangement may comprise a baffle, vane or panel.

The separator apparatus may comprise one or more opening(s). The one or more opening(s) may be part of or comprised in the separation chamber. The one or more opening(s) may be part of or comprised in the flow deceleration arrangement. The one or more opening(s) may be arranged to be opposite an open portion or further outlet of the separator apparatus, e.g. the separation chamber. For example, the opening(s) may be arranged or provided on or in the upper portion, e.g. the upper or top surface, of the separation chamber. By providing the one or more opening(s) opposite the open portion or further outlet of the separator apparatus, e.g. separation chamber, e.g. on or in the upper portion of the separation chamber, a portion or amount of fluid separated (e.g. at least partially separated) from a mixture of fluid and solids that may otherwise be projected from the open portion or further outlet, e.g. in a downwards direction, e.g. towards a seabed, may be reduced.

The opening(s) may be configured or arranged to permit passage or flow of a fluid separated or at least partially separated from a mixture of fluid and solids from an interior of the separator apparatus and/or separation chamber to an exterior of the separator apparatus and/or separation chamber, e.g. in use. A/the fluid separated or at least partially separated from a mixture of fluid and solids may comprise a portion or part of solids, e.g. light and/or fine solids, e.g. that may be inseparable or more difficult to separate from a/the fluid. The one or more opening(s) may be configured to reduce a speed or velocity of a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing in or through the separator apparatus and/or separation chamber (e.g. the flow passage), e.g. in use. A reduction or decrease of a/the speed or velocity of a mixture of fluid and solids may permit the solids to become separated or at least partially separated from fluid, e.g. due to gravitational forces acting on the solids.

The one or more opening(s) may be arranged to extend transversely (e.g. substantially transversely) and/or perpendicularly (e.g. substantially perpendicularly) relative to the longitudinal or central axis of the separation chamber and/or separator apparatus.

In some examples, the upper portion of the separation chamber may be continuous.

The separator apparatus may comprise an/the open portion or further outlet for discharge and/or deposition of solids separated (e.g. at least partially separated) from a mixture of fluid and solids, e.g. onto a seabed. The open portion or further outlet may be arranged in or on the separator apparatus such that solids separated (e.g. at least partially separated) from a mixture of fluid and solids are discharged or deposited below, e.g. directly below, the separator apparatus, e.g. the separation chamber. The open portion or further outlet may be part of or comprised in the separation chamber. The open portion or further outlet may be part of or comprised in a lower portion, e.g. a lower or bottom surface, of the separation chamber. The open portion or further outlet may be arranged in the separation chamber to face downwards towards a seabed and/or a predetermined location on a seabed, e.g. in use. In some examples, a cross-sectional area of the separation chamber may increase in a/the longitudinal direction of the separation chamber. In other words, separation chamber may be configured to taper from the outlet of the separator apparatus and/or separation chamber towards the inlet of the separation chamber. The separation chamber may be tapered at an angle of about 5 to 20 degrees, e.g. about 10 degrees, relative to a central or longitudinal axis of the separation chamber.

According to a second aspect of the present invention there is provided an excavation apparatus, e.g. an underwater excavation apparatus, comprising a separator apparatus according to the aforementioned general solution or first aspect.

The excavation apparatus may be or comprise a suction member or means, e.g. a pump or suction pump or the like. The suction member or means may be configured to excavate seabed material from a predetermined or preselected location using suction. The suction member or means may be configured to pump or transport a mixture of fluid and solids excavated by the underwater excavation apparatus to the separator apparatus, e.g. in use.

The excavation apparatus may be configured to impart a rotational or spiral motion on a mixture of fluid and solids excavated by the excavation apparatus. The excavation apparatus may be configured to subject a mixture of fluid and solids excavated by the excavation apparatus to a centrifugal force, e.g. in use. For example, the excavation apparatus may comprise at least one impeller. The impeller may be arranged and/or configured to produce suction to permit excavation of seabed material, e.g. in use. The impeller may be configured to impart a spiral or rotational motion on a mixture of fluid and solids excavated by the excavation apparatus. A mixture of fluid and solids excavated by the excavation apparatus may be directed from the excavation apparatus to the separator apparatus, e.g. in use. The impeller may be configured to subject or for subjecting a mixture of fluid and solids excavated by the underwater excavation apparatus to a centrifugal force, e.g. prior to pumping or transporting a mixture of fluid and solids to the separator apparatus, e.g. in use. This may permit the solids to become separated (e.g. at least partially separated) from fluid.

In some examples, the excavation apparatus may further comprise a flow producing device. The flow producing device may be configured to produce and/or cause a flow of fluid, e.g. controlled flow, e.g. at a pressure of around 35 to 120 KPa (KiloPascals) and/or at a volume rate of around 1 m 3 /s to 8m 3 /s, mass flow, e.g. at a pressure of around 10 to 50 KPa (KiloPascals) and/or at a volume rate of around 1 m 3 /s to 8m 3 /s and/or jet flow, e.g. at a pressure of around 100 to 500 KPa (KiloPascals) and/or at a volume rate of around 0.5m 3 /s to 2m 3 /s/, e.g. in use. The flow producing device may be configured to produce, cause and/or direct a flow of fluid to a predetermined or preselected location to be excavated, e.g. in use. The flow producing device may be configured to disturb, cut and/or disrupt material at and/or around the location to be excavated.

In some examples, the excavation apparatus may be or be comprised in a burial, de-burial and/or dredging apparatus, e.g. an underwater burial, deburial and/or dredging apparatus.

In some examples, the excavation apparatus may be configured to be movable or moved on a seabed, e.g. in use. For example, the excavation apparatus may comprise a moving arrangement, e.g. a sledge or one or more belts or the like, for moving the excavation apparatus, e.g. underwater on a seabed.

In some examples, the excavation apparatus may comprise a housing, chamber or hood. The suction member or means and/or the flow producing device may be provided in the housing, chamber or hood. The housing, chamber or hood may comprise an opening through which the flow producing device may direct a flow of fluid to a predetermined or preselected location to be excavated and/or through which the suction member or means may to pump or transport a mixture of fluid and solids excavated by the underwater excavation apparatus, e.g. to the separator apparatus, e.g. in use.

In some examples, the housing, chamber or hood may comprise a first and/or a second portion or part. In some examples, the suction member or means may be provided or arranged in the first part or portion of the housing. The flow producing device may be provided or arranged in the second part or portion of the housing.

In some examples, the excavation apparatus comprises tubular or hose, e.g. a discharge pipe, tube or conduit. The tubular or hose may be connectable, attachable, connected or attached to the suction member or means (e.g. an outlet of the suction member or means) and the inlet of the separator apparatus. The discharge pipe, tube or conduit may be configured to provide a passage for a mixture of fluid and solids extracted or excavated by the excavation apparatus to the separator apparatus.

According to a third aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of separating fluid and/or solids, e.g. particles, from a mixture of fluid and solids. The method may comprise providing a separator apparatus according to the aforementioned general solution or first aspect and/or an excavation apparatus according to the second aspect. The method may comprise receiving a mixture of fluid and solids from an excavation apparatus, e.g. an underwater exaction apparatus.

The method may comprise flowing or passing a mixture of fluids and solids in or through the separator apparatus, e.g. the flow passage.

The method may comprise separating at least a part or portion of the solids and fluid from a mixture of fluid and solids. Separating at least a part or portion of the solids and fluid from a mixture of fluid and solids may comprise reducing, e.g. gradually or controllably reducing, a speed or velocity of a mixture of fluid and solids flowing or passing in or through the separator apparatus. A decrease or reduction in speed or velocity of a mixture of fluid and solids allows the solids to become separated (e.g. at least partially separated) from fluid, e.g. due to gravitational forces acting on the solids.

Separating at least a part or portion of the solids and fluid from a mixture of fluid and solids may comprise imparting a spiral motion or rotational motion on a mixture of fluid and solids flowing or passing through the separator apparatus, e.g. the diffuser passage and/or separation chamber.

Separating at least a part or portion of the solids and fluid from a mixture of fluid and solids may comprise subjecting a mixture of fluid and solids flowing or passing through the separator apparatus, e.g. the diffuser passage and/or separation chamber, to a centrifugal force.

Separating at least a part or portion of the solids and fluid from a mixture of fluid and solids may comprise moving, e.g. rotating the guide arrangement, e.g. the elongate member and/or the one or more guide element(s), in the separator apparatus.

The method may comprise discharging solids separated or at least partially separated solids from a mixture of fluid and solids at a predetermined or pre-selected location on a seabed, e.g. from the open portion or further outlet of the separator apparatus.

The method may comprise expelling or discharging fluid separated or at least partially separated from a mixture of fluid and solids, e.g. through the one or more opening(s) and/or outlet of the separator apparatus.

It should be understood that the features defined above in accordance with any aspect of the present invention or below in relation to any specific embodiment of the invention may be utilised, either alone or in combination with any other defined feature, in any other aspect or embodiment of the invention. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

These and other aspects of the present invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, which are: Figure 1 a side view of a separator apparatus according to one or more described examples connected to an example of an underwater excavation apparatus;

Figure 2(a) side view of the separator apparatus of Figure 1 connected to another example of an underwater excavation apparatus;

Figure 2(b) a perspective view of the separator apparatus and underwater excavation apparatus of Figure 2(a) without an separation arrangement;

Figure 2(c) a cross-sectional view of the separator apparatus and underwater excavation apparatus of Figure 2(a);

Figure 2(d) a side view of the separator apparatus of Figure 1 connected to another example of an underwater excavation apparatus;

Figure 3(a) a cross-sectional view of the separator apparatus of Figure 1 connected to another example of underwater excavation apparatus;

Figure 3(b) a side view of the separator apparatus of Figure 1 connected to yet another example of underwater excavation apparatus;

Figure 4(a) a side view of the separator apparatus of Figure 1 disconnected from an underwater excavation apparatus;

Figure 4(b) a perspective view of the separator apparatus of Figure 4(a); Figure 4(c) an underneath view of the separator apparatus of Figure 4(a);

Figure 5 a side view of the separator apparatus and underwater excavation apparatus of Figure 1 in use; and

Figure 6(a) a cross-sectional view of a separator apparatus according to another described example;

Figure 6(b) a cross-sectional view of a separator apparatus according to another described example;

Figure 6(c) a cross-sectional view of a separator apparatus according to another described example;

Figure 7(a) a cross-sectional view of a separator apparatus according to another described example; and Figure 7(b) a cross-sectional view of a separator apparatus according to yet another described example.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

Referring to Figures 1 to 3 (b) there are shown examples of an underwater excavation apparatus 5 comprising a separator apparatus 10. Here, the excavation apparatus 5 includes a suction member or means in the form of a pump or suction pump 15 or the like, which is configured to pump or transport a mixture of fluid and solids excavated by the underwater excavation apparatus 5 to the separator apparatus 10, in use.

In the examples shown in Figures 1 , 2(d), 3(a) and 3 (b), the excavation apparatus 5 additionally includes a flow producing device 20, which is configured to produce and/or direct a flow of fluid to a predetermined or preselected location to be excavated, in use. The flow of fluid produced by the flow producing device 20 may be controlled flow, e.g. at a pressure of around 35 to 120 KPa (KiloPascals) and/or at a volume rate of around 1 m 3 /s to 8m 3 /s, mass flow, e.g. at a pressure of around 10 to 50 KPa (KiloPascals) and/or at a volume rate of around 1 m 3 /s to 8m 3 /s, and/or jet flow, e.g. at a pressure of around 100 to 500 KPa (KiloPascals) and/or at a volume rate of around 0.5m 3 /s to 2m 3 /s, e.g. in use. The flow producing device 20 can be configured to disturb, cut and/or disrupt material at and/or around a location to be excavated. It will be appreciate that in some examples the flow producing device 20 may be configured to produce one of a controlled flow, mass flow or jet flow while in other examples the flow producing device 20 may be configured to produce a mass and/or controlled flow in combination with a jet flow.

In the examples shown in Figures 2(a) to 2(c) the underwater excavation apparatus 5 is provided in the form of a suction pump 15, which may be configured to pump seabed material, i.e. a mixture of fluid and solids, from the seabed and transport the mixture of fluid and solids to the separator apparatus 10, in use.

In the examples shown in Figures 3(a) and 3(b) the underwater excavation apparatus 5 is provided in the form of an underwater burial, de-burial and/or dredging apparatus including the suction pump 15 and the flow producing device 20. Here, the excavation apparatus 5 includes a moving arrangement in the form of a sledge 25a or tracks/belt(s) 25b or the like for moving the underwater excavation apparatus on the seabed. In some examples, the underwater excavation apparatus 5 includes a housing 30. It will be appreciated that in other examples, the underwater excavation apparatus 5 may include a chamber or hood or the like. The suction pump 15 and/or the flow producing device 20 can be provided in the housing. In the examples shown in Figures 1 and 2(d) both the suction pump 15 and the flow producing device are provided in the housing 30 while in the examples of Figures 2(a) to 2(c) only the suction pump 15 is provided in the housing 30. The housing 30 has an opening 32 through which the flow producing device 20 can direct a flow of fluid to a predetermined location to be excavated and/or the suction pump 15 can pump or transport the mixture of fluid and solids to the separator apparatus 10, e.g. in use.

In the examples of Figures 3(a) and 3(b) the housing has a first part 30a and a second part 30b. Here, the suction pump 15 is arranged in an inclined position in the first part 30a of the housing and the flow producing device 20 is arranged in the second part 30a of the housing to face downward towards the seabed (not shown). The suction pump 15 pumps and transports the mixture of fluid and solids disturbed, disrupted or cut by the flow producing device 20 to the separator apparatus 10, e.g. in use.

It should be understood that the underwater excavation apparatus and/or separator apparatus disclosed herein are not restricted to the above described arrangements.

In the examples shown in Figures 1 to 3 (b), the underwater excavation apparatus 5 includes a tubular, which may be provided in the form of discharge pipe 35. The discharge pipe 35 connects the suction pump 15 to an inlet 40 of the separator apparatus 10, and is configured to provide a passage for the mixture of fluid and solids excavated by the underwater excavation apparatus 5 to the separator apparatus 10. The inlet 40 of the separator apparatus 10 is connectable/attachable or connected/attached to an outlet 42 of an underwater excavation apparatus 5 and is configured to receive the mixture of fluid and solids from the underwater excavation apparatus 5.

It will be appreciated that in some examples the excavation apparatus 5 may be configured to impart a rotational or spiral motion on the mixture of fluid and solids excavated by the excavation apparatus and/or to subject the mixture of fluid and solids to a centrifugal force, in use. For example, the excavation apparatus 5 can include an impeller (not shown), which may be arranged and/or configured to produce suction to permit excavation of seabed material, in use. The impeller can be configured to impart a spiral or rotational motion on the mixture of fluid and solids excavated by the excavation apparatus and subsequently directed to the separator apparatus 10. The impeller may subject the mixture of fluid and solids excavated by the underwater excavation apparatus to a centrifugal force, e.g. prior to pumping or transporting a mixture of fluid and solids to the separator apparatus 10, in use. This may permit the solids to become separated (e.g. at least partially separated) from fluid.

Figures 4(a) to 4(c) show an example of the separator apparatus 10 separate/disconnected from the underwater excavation apparatus 5 and Figures 1 to 3(b) show an example of the separator apparatus attached/connected to the underwater excavation apparatus 5.

The separator apparatus 10 includes at least one separation arrangement 45, which is configured for separating at least a part of the solids from the mixture of fluid and solids received into the separator apparatus 10. The separation arrangement 45 configured to reduce a velocity of the mixture and solids received from an excavation apparatus. For example, the separation arrangement 45 can be configured to controllably, gradually or sequentially reduce the velocity of the mixture and solids. This may allow solids to be separated, e.g. at least partially separated, from the mixture of fluid and solids, e.g. due to gravitational forces acting on the solids. Additionally or alternatively, this may allow fluid separated (e.g. at least partially separated) from the mixture of fluid and solids to be discharged at a reduced speed or velocity, thereby preventing disturbance of seabed material and/or separated or at least partially separated solids discharged from the separator apparatus. The separation arrangement 45 can be or define at least part of a flow deceleration arrangement of the separator apparatus 10.

The mixture of fluid and solids may be a slurry, whereby the fluid may be a liquid, such as water, brine or sea water, and the solids may be solid particles and/or material, such as seabed material excavated by the underwater excavation apparatus 5. The mixture of fluid and solids can be in the form of a fluid/solids suspension, e.g. sea water/seabed material suspension. It will be appreciated that in this example and/or other examples the solids may include particles or particulate material.

The separator apparatus 10 defines a flow passage 50 configured to receive the mixture of fluid and solids from the underwater excavation apparatus, which flow through the flow passage 50, in use, as shown in the example of Figure 4(c).

Here, the separator apparatus 10 includes a separation chamber 55, which defines a part 50a of the flow passage 50 and includes the separation arrangement 45. The separation chamber 55 can define at least one other part of the flow deceleration arrangement of the separator apparatus 10.

In the examples shown in Figures 2(c), 3(a), 4(b) and 4(c) the separation arrangement 45 is arranged in the separation chamber 55 to extend across or span the flow passage 50a. It will be appreciated that in other examples the separation arrangement 45 may be provided in the separation chamber 55 to protrude or at least partially extend into and/or through the part 50a of the flow passage 50 and/or another part 50b of the flow passage 50.

As shown in the examples of 2(c), 3(a), 4(b) and 4(c) the separator apparatus 10 includes a plurality of separation elements 60, which in this example are provided in the separation chamber 55. It will be appreciated that in other examples the separator apparatus 10 may include at least one or a single separation element 60 and/or that the at least one or plurality of separation element(s) 60 may be provided in another part or portion of the separator apparatus 10. Here, each/the separation elements 60 are configured to reduce a speed or velocity of the mixture of fluid and solids flowing in the flow passage 50 and/or through the separator chamber 55, i.e. the separator apparatus 10. In use, a reduction in speed or velocity of the mixture of fluid and solids may permit the solids to become separated (e.g. at least partially separated) from fluid due to gravitational forces acting on the solids.

The/each separation element 60 may be provided in the form of an elongate member, which in this example is a portion of chain. The/each separation element 60 is arranged in the separation chamber 55 to span the part 50a of the flow passage 50 of the separation chamber 55. It will be appreciated that in other examples the elongate member may be in the form of an elongate bar, elongate rod or the like, which may be flexible or rigid and/or arranged in the separation chamber 55 to span the flow passage 50.

Each/the separation element(s) can be arranged in the separation chamber 55 to permit movement, such as slidable movement, of at least a portion or end of the separation element(s), in a direction perpendicular (e.g. substantially perpendicular) to a longitudinal or central axis A of the separation chamber 55 and/or separator apparatus 10 shown the example of Figure 4(c).

For example, a portion or end of each/the separation element(s) 60 may be movable, such as slidably movable, in a transverse (e.g. substantially transverse) direction of the separation chamber 55 and/or separator apparatus 10. In the examples shown in Figures 2(c), 3(a), 4(b) and 4(c) a first end of each separation element 60 is attached/fixed to an upper portion 65, e.g. a top/upper surface, of the separation chamber 55. Further elongate members 70, which in this example are in the form of wires but may in other examples be in the form of bars, rods or the like, are arranged in the separation chamber 55 to horizontally extend across a bottom or lower portion 75 of the separation chamber 55. The further elongate members 70 are threaded through or coupled to a second end of each separation element 60 to permit a portion or the second end of each/the separation elements to transversely slide along the further elongate members 70. It will be appreciated that in other examples, at least a portion of each/the separation element(s) may be movable, such as slidably movable, in a vertical (e.g. substantially vertical) and/or transverse (e.g. substantially transverse) direction of the separation chamber 55 and/or separator apparatus 10. By allowing a portion or end of each/the separation element(s) to be movable and/or slidable in a direction perpendicular to the longitudinal or central axis A of the separator apparatus 10 and/or separating chamber 55, the risk of large solids/particles becoming trapped in the separator apparatus 10 and/or clogging of the separator apparatus 10 may be reduced.

In this example each/the separation element(s) 60 is arranged in the separation chamber 55 to prohibit movement of each/the separation element(s) in a longitudinal direction of the separation chamber 55 and/or separator apparatus 10. For example, while the further elongate members 70 permit transverse (e.g. substantially transverse) movement of the first end of each/the separation element(s) 60, the further elongate members restrict or prohibit movement of each/the separation element(s) in a longitudinal direction, e.g. in a direction along the longitudinal or central axis A of the separator apparatus. By restricting movement of each/the separating element(s) in a longitudinal direction of the separating chamber and/or separator apparatus, the/each separating element(s) may be maintained in a position spanning the flow passage 50a of the separating chamber 55. In other words, each/the separation element(s) may not be blown out of the fluid passage 50 by the mixture of fluid and solids flowing through the separation chamber 55, in use.

In the example shown in Figure 4(c) the number of separation elements 60, which are provided in the separation chamber 55 and/or separator apparatus 10, increases in a longitudinal direction of the separation chamber 55 and/or separator apparatus 10. In other words, the number of separation elements 60 provided at or in vicinity of an inlet 80 of the separation chamber 55 is less than the number of separation elements 60 provided at or in vicinity of an outlet 85 of the separation chamber 55. For example in Figure 4(c), in the vicinity of the inlet 80 four separation elements 60 are provided whereas in the vicinity of the outlet 85 eight separation elements are provided. It will be appreciated that in other examples more or less than four separation elements may be provided at or in vicinity of the inlet 80 of the separation chamber and/or more or less than eight separation elements may be provided at or in vicinity of the outlet 85 of the separation chamber 55. As can be seen in the example of Figure 4(c) the separation elements 60 provided at the outlet 85 are spaced more closely to each other, e.g. in a transverse direction of the separator apparatus 10, than the separation elements 60 provided at the inlet 80 of the separation chamber so that, for example, a density of the separation elements 60 increases in a longitudinal direction of the separation chamber 55 and/or separator apparatus 10 (a direction along the longitudinal axis A of the separator apparatus 10) e.g. from the inlet 80 to the outlet 85 of the separation chamber 55. By arranging less separation elements 60 at the inlet 80 than at the outlet 85 and increasing the number of separation elements 60 towards the outlet 85, the speed or velocity of the mixture of fluid and solids travelling through the separator apparatus 10 may be controllably, sequentially or gradually reduced. It will appreciated that by arranging a larger number of separating elements 60 at the inlet 80 compared to the number of separation elements 60 arranged at the outlet 85, the inflowing mixture of fluid and solids may be presented with an obstacle or blockage created by the separation elements 60, which may cause the mixture of fluid and solids to be diverted towards the seabed before the velocity of the mixture of fluid and solids has been sufficiently reduced. This could result in the mixture of fluid and solids being directed in a jet towards the seabed at a velocity sufficient to excavate the seabed rather than depositing of the solids on the seabed.

In the examples of Figures 1 to 4(c) the separator apparatus 10 includes a diffuser passage 90, which defines the other part 50b of the flow passage 50. The diffuser passage 50 can defline at least one other part of the flow deceleration arrangement of the separator apparatus 10. Here, the diffuser passage 90 is of a substantially frusto-conical shape. It should be understood that the diffuser passage disclosed herein is not restricted to a substantially frusto-conical shape. For example, in other examples, the diffuser passage may have a tubular, frustum, rectangular shape or the like. The diffuser passage 90 is attachable/connectable or attached/connected to an underwater excavation apparatus 5. In some examples, the diffuser passage 90 is configured to reduce a speed or velocity of a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing through the diffuser passage, in use.

In the examples of Figures 1 to 4(c) the inlet 40 of the separator apparatus 10 defines an inlet 40 of the diffuser passage 90. The outlet 85 of the separation chamber defines the outlet 85 of the separator apparatus 10 and is configured for expelling or discharging a fluid separated (e.g. at least partially separated) from the mixture of fluid and solids. The inlet 40 of the separator apparatus 10 is provided at a front or first end of the separator apparatus, e.g. proximally to the underwater excavation apparatus 5 and outlet 85 of the separator apparatus is provided at a rear or second end of the separator apparatus 10, e.g. distally from the underwater excavation apparatus 5, in use.

As shown in the example of Figure 4(c) a cross-sectional area defined by the outlet 85 of the separator apparatus 10 is larger than a cross-sectional area defined by the inlet 40 of the separator apparatus. For example, the separator apparatus 10 or an internal portion thereof may be configured to taper from the outlet 85 towards the inlet 40. In other words, a cross-sectional area of the separator apparatus may increase from the inlet 40 towards the outlet 85, e.g. in a longitudinal or axial direction of the separator apparatus 10. For example, the separator apparatus 10 may be tapered at an angle of about 5 to 20 degrees, e.g. about 10 degrees, relative to a central axis of the separator apparatus.

As shown in the example of Figures 1 to 4(c), the diffuser passage includes an outlet 95, which may be attachable/connectable or attached/connected to the inlet 80 of the separation chamber 55 and is in communication with the inlet 80 of the separation chamber 55.

As illustrated in Figures 4(a) to 4(c), a cross-sectional area defined by the outlet

95 of the diffuser passage 90 is larger than the cross-sectional area of the inlet 40. Similarly as described above, the diffuser passage 90 can be configured to taper from the outlet 95 towards the inlet 40 of the diffuser passage. In other words, a cross- sectional area of the diffuser passage 90 increases from the inlet 40 towards the outlet 95, e.g. in a longitudinal or axial direction of the diffuser passage. The diffuser passage may be tapered at an angle of about 5 to 20 degrees, e.g. about 10 degrees, relative to the central or longitudinal axis A of the diffuser passage. By increasing a cross- sectional area of the diffuser passage from the inlet 40 to the outlet 95 of the diffuser passage 90, the speed or velocity of the mixture of fluid and solids flowing through the diffuser passage 90 may be reduced, e.g. gradually, controllably or sequentially reduced.

Alternatively or additionally, a cross-sectional area of the separation chamber 55 may increase in a/the longitudinal direction of the separation chamber 55 and the separation chamber may be configured to taper from the outlet 85 of separation chamber 55 towards the inlet 80 of the separation chamber 55. For example, the separation chamber may be tapered at an angle of about 5 to 20 degrees, e.g. about 10 degrees, relative to the central or longitudinal axis A of the separation chamber 55. In this example, the upper portion 65 of the separation chamber is of a half cylindrical shape while the lower portion 75 is of a rectangular shape. It will be appreciated that in other examples, the separation chamber 55 may be of a different shape, such as a frusto-conical or frustum shape or the like.

In the examples shown in Figures 1 to 4(c), the separator apparatus 10 includes one or more opening(s) 100, which are arranged on the upper portion 65, e.g. the upper or top surface, of the separation chamber 55. Here, the openings 100 are arranged on the upper portion 65 of the separation chamber 55 to extend transversely (e.g. substantially transversely) or perpendicularly (e.g. substantially perpendicularly) relative to the longitudinal or central axis A of the separation chamber 55 and/or separator apparatus 10. By providing the one or more opening(s) on the upper portion 65 of the separation chamber, a portion or amount of fluid separated (e.g. at least partially separated) from the mixture of fluid and solids that may otherwise be projected in downwards direction, e.g. towards the seabed, is reduced.

The openings 100 are configured to permit passage or flow of a fluid separated (e.g. at least partially separated) from the mixture of fluid and solids from an interior 105 of the separator apparatus and/or separation chamber to an exterior 1 10, e.g. a surrounding body of water, of the separator apparatus 10, in use. The fluid separated (e.g. at least partially separated) from the mixture of fluid and solids may include a portion of solids, e.g. light and/or fine solids, e.g. which may be inseparable or more difficult to separate from the fluid. The openings 100 are configured to reduce (e.g. to further reduce) the speed or velocity of the mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing through the separator apparatus and/or separation chamber (e.g. the flow passage), e.g. in use. The reduction or decrease of the speed or velocity of the mixture of fluid and solids may permit the solids to become separated (e.g. at least partially separated) from fluid, e.g. due to gravitational forces acting on the solids. It will be appreciated that in other examples the upper or top surface of the separation chamber may be continuous.

In the examples shown in Figures 1 to 4(c), the separator apparatus 10 includes an open portion or further outlet 115 for discharge/deposition of solids separated (e.g. at least partially separated) from the mixture of fluid and solids. The open portion or further outlet 1 15 can be arranged in the separator apparatus such that solids separated (e.g. at least partially separated) from the mixture of fluids and solids are discharged below, such as directly below, the separator apparatus 10. The open portion or further outlet 1 15 is provided in the lower portion 75 e.g. a lower or bottom surface of the separation chamber 55. The open portion or further outlet 1 15 is arranged in the separation chamber 55 to face downwards towards a seabed and/or a predetermined location on the seabed, in use.

Figure 5 shows an example of the separator apparatus 10 being used with the underwater excavation apparatus 5. In use, the mixture of fluid and solids excavated by the underwater excavation apparatus 5 flows from the outlet 42 of the excavation apparatus through the discharge pipe 35 into the separator apparatus 10. As described above, the cross-sectional area of the diffuser passage 90 increases in a longitudinal direction of the separator apparatus 10. In use, when the mixture of fluid and solids flows in the flow passage 50 and through the separator apparatus 10, the increasing cross-section (e.g. in a longitudinal direction of the separator apparatus) of the diffuser passage 90 can lead to a reduction in speed or velocity of the mixture of fluid and solids flowing through the separator apparatus 10.

In use, on entering the separation chamber 55, the speed of mixture of fluid solids is further reduced by the separation elements 60. Solids in the mixture of fluid and solids remain in suspension above a certain speed or velocity, e.g. about 4 m/s, of the mixture of fluid and solids, which may be determined by the viscosity of the mixture, the size, shape of the solids and/or the density of the solids in the mixture of fluids and solids.

In use, large particles contained in the mixture of fluid and solids can collide with the separation elements 60 and subsequently drop through the open portion or further outlet 115 on the seabed at the predetermined location, which is spaced from an excavation site or location on the seabed. The reduction in speed of the mixture of fluid and solids permits separation or at least partial separation of the fluid and solids due to the gravitational forces acting on the solids. In use, when the speed of the mixture of fluid and solids is reduced, the solids drop or fall out of the mixture onto the seabed at the predetermined location. This may allow the separator apparatus 10 to be used for the burial of an object, such as a pipe or cable located on a seabed or in a channel, trench, or hole in a seabed.

While the solids are discharged/deposited on the seabed, e.g. at the predetermined location, the fluid is expelled/discharged through the outlet 85 provided at the rear end of the separator apparatus 10 and/or the openings 100 of the separator apparatus 10, as shown in the example of Figure 5. This arrangement may prevent a jet of fluid (e.g. sea water) from being directed on to the seabed , which may result in carrying away solids deposited on the seabed or unintended excavation of a location, e.g. a burial site, on the seabed.

Reference is now made to Figures 6(a) to 6(c) in which alternative examples of a separator apparatus are shown. The separator apparatus, which is generally identified by reference numeral 200, is similar to that shown in Figures 1 to 5 and as such like components share like reference numerals, incremented by 200. As the structure and operation of the examples shown in Figures 6(a) to 6(c) is similar to that shown in Figures 1 to 5, only the differences will be highlighted.

In the examples shown in Figures 6(a) to 6(c) the separator apparatus 200 is configured to impart a spiral motion or rotational motion on a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing through the separator apparatus 200 and/or configured to subject a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing through the flow passage to a centrifugal force, in use. This may permit the solids to become separated (e.g. at least partially separated) from fluid and/or reduce the speed or velocity of the mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing in the flow passage and/or in or through the separator apparatus and/or in or through the separator chamber, e.g. in use. A reduction or decrease of a/the speed or velocity of the mixture of fluid and solids may permit the solids to become further separated from fluid, e.g. due to gravitational forces acting on the solids.

The exemplary separator apparatus 200 shown in Figures 6(a) to 6(c) includes a guide arrangement 120, which is configured to impart a spiral motion or rotational motion on a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing through the separator apparatus 200 and/or configured to subject the mixture of fluid and solids to a centrifugal force, in use. In Figures 6(a) to 6(c) the guide arrangement is shown as being arranged or provided in the other part of the flow passage 250b defined by the diffuser passage 290. The guide arrangement 120 includes one or more guide elements, which are in this example in the form of guide vanes 125. It will be appreciated that in other examples, the one or more guide elements may be in the form of one or more guide blades, a screw thread or a corkscrew, an auger or the like.

The guide vanes 125 are arranged in the separator apparatus 200 to impart a spiral or rotational motion on the mixture of fluid and solids passing through the separator apparatus 200. The guide vanes 125 are arranged or provided in the other part of the flow passage 250b, e.g. diffuser passage 290, to protrude or at least partially extend into the other part of the flow passage 250b. The guide vanes 125 are circumferentially arranged or provided about the longitudinal axis A of the separator apparatus 200, on an internal surface 130 of the other part of the flow passage 250b, e.g. the diffuser passage 290.

As shown in the example of Figure 6(c), the guide arrangement 120 can include a yet further elongate member, which may be in the form or a shaft or rod 135 or the like, for example. In this example, the shaft 135 is arranged or provided to extend in a longitudinal direction of the separator apparatus 200 and through the other part of the flow passage 250b, e.g. the diffuser passage 290. The guide vanes 125 can be arranged, such as circumferentially arranged, on the shaft 135 to define a threaded, helical or spiral member, which may be in the form or a corkscrew or auger or the like, for example.

It will be appreciated that in some examples, the guide arrangement 125 may be may be stationary in the separator apparatus 200, e.g. the diffuser passage 290, while in other examples the guide arrangement 125 may be movably arranged or provided in the separator apparatus 200.

In the example shown in Figure 6(c), the shaft 135 can be rotatably arranged and/or configured to rotate around a longitudinal axis of the shaft and/or separator apparatus 200. In use, rotation of the shaft 135 rotates the guide vanes 125 in the separation apparatus 200 to impart a spiral motion or rotational motion on the mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing through the separator apparatus 200. This may subject the mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing through the separator apparatus 200 to a centrifugal force, thereby permitting solids to become separated (e.g. at least partially separated) from fluid. It will be appreciated that the shaft 135 can be coupled or connected to a moving arrangement, which may be in the form of an electric or hydraulic motor (not shown), for example. It will be appreciated that the structure and operation of the separation elements 260 arranged in the separation chamber 255 of the separator apparatus 200, shown in the example of Figure 6(a), is similar to that described above in relation to Figures 1 to 5, in other examples, the separator apparatus 200 may include a centrifugal arrangement 140 as shown in the example of Figure 6(b). Here, the centrifugal arrangement 140 is provided in the separation chamber 255. The centrifugal arrangement includes an inner chamber 145 and an outer chamber 150, which are arranged to be in communication with each other.

As can be seen in the example of Figure 6(b) the inner and outer chambers 145, 150 may be substantially cylindrical and/or elongated in shape. Here, the inner chamber 145 is substantially concentric with the outer chamber 150.

The centrifugal arrangement 140 shown in the example of Figure 6(b) includes one or more channel(s) 155, which may be in the form of one or more slot(s), hole(s), slit(s) or passage way(s) or the like, and connect the inner chamber 145 with the outer chamber 150. Here, the one or more channel(s) 155 are shown as extending in a longitudinal direction of the separator apparatus 200 and/or as being provided circumferentially around a wall 160 of the inner chamber 145. It will be appreciated that in other examples the channels 155 may circumferentially extend and/or may be substantially circular, round, square or the like in shape.

The one or more channel(s) 155 can be configured to permit passage of a fluid separated (e.g. at least partially separated) from the mixture of fluid and solids from the outer chamber 150 to the inner chamber 145. For example, in use, due to the centrifugal force, e.g. imparted by the guide arrangement 125, acting on the mixture of fluid and solids, fluid may be urged to the inner chamber 145, while solids may be urged to the outer chamber 150. In the example of Figure 6(b) the inner chamber 145 is shown as being in communication, such as in direct communication, with the outlet 285 of the separator apparatus 200 to permit discharge of a fluid separated (e.g. at least partially separated) from the mixture of fluid and solids, while solids or particles may be discharged from the outer chamber 150 via the open portion or further outlet 315.

In the example shown in Figure 6(c), the separator apparatus 200 includes a baffle arrangement 160, which can be provided in the separation chamber 255. Here, the baffle arrangement 160 is configured to direct flow of fluid separated (e.g. at least partially separated) from the mixture of fluid and solids to the outlet 285 of the separator apparatus 200. The baffle arrangement 160 includes a baffle, vane or panel 165 or the like, which permits solids/particles urged to the outside of the baffle 165, e.g. due to the centrifugal force, to be discharged via the open portion or further outlet 315, while fluid separated (e.g. at least partially separated) the mixture of fluid and solids is discharged via the outlet 285. In this example, the outlet 285 is in the form of a tubular, while in other examples the outlet 285 may be of a frusto-conical shape or the like. It will be appreciate that in the examples shown in Figures 6(b) and 6(c) the upper or top surface 265 of the separation chamber 255 can be continuous, i.e. may be provided without any openings.

Referring to Figures 7(a) and 7(b) in which alternative examples of a separator apparatus are shown. The separator apparatus, which is generally identified by reference numeral 300, is similar to that shown in Figures 1 to 5 and Figures 6(a) to 6(c) and as such like components share like reference numerals, incremented by 300. As the structure and operation of the examples shown in Figures 7(a) and 7(b) is similar to that shown in Figures 1 to 5 and Figures 6(a) to 6(c), only the differences will be highlighted.

In the example shown in Figures 7(a) the separation arrangement 345 includes a further helical or spiral member 360a, such as an auger, cork screw, or the like. The further helical or spiral member 360a may define at least one separation element that may be part of the separation arrangement 345. In this example, the further helical or spiral member 360a is provided in the part of the flow passage 350a of the separation chamber 355 to impart a spiral motion or rotational motion on the mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing through the part of the flow passage 350a. This may subject the mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing through the part of flow passage 350a to a centrifugal force and/or permit a reduction in speed or velocity of the mixture of fluid and solids flowing through the separator apparatus, in use. The centrifugal force acting on the mixture of fluid and solids and/or the reduction in speed or velocity of the mixture may permit separation of solids from fluid, as described above.

As can be seen in Figure 7(a), the further helical or spiral member 360a extends through the separation chamber, e.g. part of the flow passage 350a, in a longitudinal direction of the separator apparatus 300. Here, the further helical member or spiral member 360a includes a yet further elongate member, which may be provided in the form of a further shaft or rod 170, and one or more further guide element(s) 175a, which may be in the form of, for example, one or more guide blades or vanes or the like. The further guide element(s) 175a can be circumferentially arranged on the shaft 170 to form the further helical member or spiral member 360a. It will be appreciated that in some examples, the further guide element(s) 175a may be provided integrally with the further shaft 170, while in other examples the further guide element(s) 175a and the further shaft 170 may be separately provided. In some examples, the further helical member or spiral member 360 may be integral with the separation chamber 355, while in other examples, it may be provided separate to or distinct from the separation chamber. The separation chamber 355 may be retrofitted with the further helical or spiral member 360a.

Although the further helical or spiral member 360 is shown in Figure 7(a) as being only arranged in the separation chamber 355, it will be appreciated that in other examples the further helical or spiral member may extend through both the diffuser passage and separation chamber or only the diffusor passage. In such examples, the further helical or spiral member may be provided in the addition to or instead of the guide elements in the diffusor passage.

It should be understood that in some examples the further helical or spiral member 360a may be arranged in the separator apparatus 300 to be stationary, e.g. in use, while in other examples further helical or spiral member may be movably arranged in the separator apparatus 300. For example, the further shaft 170 may be movably arranged, e.g. rotatably arranged, and/or configured for move, e.g. for rotating, around a longitudinal axis of the further shaft 170 and/or separator apparatus 300. For example, in use, movement, e.g. rotational movement, of the further shaft 170 may permit or cause movement, e.g. rotational movement, of the further guide element(s) 175a in the separator apparatus 300. Movement, e.g. rotational movement of the further guide element(s) 175a may impart a spiral motion or rotational motion on a mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing through the separator apparatus 300, e.g. the separation chamber 355.

The further helical or spiral member 360a, e.g. the further shaft 170, may be coupled, coupleable, connected or connectable to a/the (further) moving arrangement, e.g. to permit movement, e.g. rotational movement, of the further shaft 170 and the guide vanes 175a e.g. in use. The moving arrangement may be or comprise an electric or hydraulic motor, or the like.

It will be appreciated that in some examples, the separation arrangement 345 includes a further threaded member 360b, such as a screw thread or the like. The further threaded member 360b may define at least one separation element that may be part of the separation arrangement 345. In the example of Figure 7(b) the further threaded member 360b is shown as being provided in and/or to protrude into the part of the flow passage 350a of separation chamber 355 to impart a spiral motion or rotational motion on the mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing through the flow passage. This may subject the mixture of fluid and solids passing or flowing through the part of the flow passage 350a, e.g. the separation chamber 355, to a centrifugal force and/or permit reduction in speed or velocity of the mixture of fluid and solids flowing through the separator apparatus, in use.

As can be seen in Figure 7(b), the further threaded member 360b is provided on an internal surface 430 of the part of the flow passage 350a, e.g. the separation chamber 355. Here, the further threaded member 360b includes one or more further guide element(s) 175b, which may be in the form of, for example, one or more guide blades or guide vanes or the like. The further guide element(s) 175b can be circumferentially arranged or provided about the longitudinal axis A of the separator apparatus 300, e.g. to form the further threaded member 360b. It will be appreciated that in some examples, the further guide element(s) 175b may be integral with the part of the flow passage 350a, e.g. the separation chamber, while in other examples the further guide element(s) 175b may be provided separately or may be retrofitted to the separation chamber 355.

It should be understood that the embodiments described herein are merely exemplary and that various modifications may be made thereto without departing from the scope of the invention.

While in the examples described above, openings 100 are provided in the upper portion 65, 265, 365 of the separation chamber 55, 255, 355 it will be appreciated that in other examples the upper portion 65, 265, 365 of the separation chamber 55, 255, 355 may be continuous.

For example, the guide element(s) 125 may be integrally provided with the shaft 135, while in other examples the guide element(s) 125 may be provided and the shaft 135 may be separately provided.

In some examples, the helical member or spiral member may be integral with the separation chamber 55, 255, 355, while in other examples, it may be provided separately to or distinct from the separation chamber 55, 255, 355. The separation chamber 55, 255 355 may be retrofitted with the helical or spiral member 360.

For example, the guide element(s) 125 may be integral with the part of the flow passage 50a, 250a, 350a, e.g. the separation chamber, while in other examples the guide element(s) 125 may be provided separately or may be retrofitted separation chamber 55, 255, 355.